Mega yacht »Dilbar«
Peter Seyfferth / IMAGO
The Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov has won a partial legal victory. According to SPIEGEL information, the Frankfurt Regional Court declared several searches that had taken place last year illegal. The decision was made as part of a money laundering proceeding against the entrepreneur. He is also being investigated for tax evasion and sanctions violations.
In September, officials from the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) and the tax investigation department searched several villas on Lake Tegernsee, an apartment near Frankfurt am Main and the mega yacht "Dilbar" in the port of Bremen. In addition to documents, the investigators also confiscated valuable works of art.
In order to substantiate the accusation of money laundering against Usmanov, white-collar criminalists from the BKA's Department of Serious and Organized Crime had collected almost 90 suspicious money laundering reports from banks describing suspicious transactions.
However, the court found that there was no initial suspicion of money laundering for the searches at Usmanov's home. In its reasoning, the Chamber also found serious deficiencies in the search warrants requested by the Frankfurt Public Prosecutor's Office.
For example, it was not nearly adequately described why the investigators suspected Usmanov of money laundering. The accusation that his billion-dollar fortune is based primarily on crimes committed in Russia is too sweeping. More general references to possibly dubious business practices and offshore companies alone were not enough.
In addition, the judges criticized the fact that the investigators had relied heavily on a YouTube video by Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny in their argumentation. They did not provide any other evidence of improper business practices. Usmanov's defense lawyers said the decision strengthened their client's confidence in the German rule of law. They deny all allegations.
However, it is unlikely that the confiscated items and documents will now have to be returned at short notice. The searches were also backed up by decisions from the other investigations against Usmanov. They continue to exist. Most recently, the Munich II Regional Court rejected Usmanov's appeal against the raids in proceedings for sanctions violations.