Love for Germany can be precious to Alisher Usmanov – DW – 24/09/2022

Published by
Peter Kavinsky

The searches in Germany for villas and objects apparently related to Alisher Usmanov are strongly reminiscent of the story of Al Capone. As you know, the legendary American mobster was arrested “only” for tax evasion. Of course Usmanov is not Al Capone. But it turned out that a covert – and now official – investigation is underway against a major Russian oligarch on suspicion of committing tax crimes over a long period of time. The formal reason for the searches, which took place on September 21, was generally a trivial matter.

Punctuation of the accountant of the oligarch’s financial empire?

As the head of the Federal Criminal Investigation Service (BKA), Holger Münch, told a DW correspondent, the search was carried out in connection with suspected violations of the sanctions regime, which prohibits spending and generally uses frozen funds and objects for economic purposes. .

Al Capone, Chicago, 1931Photo: picture-alliance/AP Photo

Alisher Usmanov has been added to the personal sanction list EU number 673 four days after the start of Russian aggression against Ukraine as a person “whose actions undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine”. The money that Usmanov did not have time to transfer from his accounts with German banks to Switzerland was frozen.

He had no right to check them. But there was clearly a flat tire. Someone in the structures of the oligarch clearly overlooked it: these funds paid for the services of the guards of the villa of Usmanov in the picturesque, mundane town of Rottach-Egern on the banks of Lake Tegernsee in Bavaria. Usmanov was charged with issuing frozen funds, and four security guards and the owner of a private security company were charged with possible complicity. Here’s the basics for it Search.

Simultaneously, searches were carried out at 24 locations throughout Germany, probably related to Alisher Usmanov. The Russian oligarch will be in serious trouble if the German investigative authorities succeed in proving that he actually had one of his permanent residences on the banks of the Tegernsee and therefore had to pay tax on his income in Germany.

Usmanov and his love for the Alps

More than ten years ago, Usmanov was brought to Bavaria because of his sore eyes, which he treated with a doctor from Munich. In order not to fly back and forth, a wealthy patient decided to settle nearby. And in his own words, he fell in love with the Bavarian landscape and the mountains, which reminded him of his native Uzbekistan.

Rottach-Egern on the banks of the TegernseePhoto: Frank Hörmann/Sven Simon/photo alliance

“The charm of this unique place Rottach-Egern is that I felt at home in Uzbekistan,” Usmanov was quoted by the German edition of t-online. The “charm” was clearly so strong that, in addition to the villa bought in 2011 through shell companies, at 12 Fischerstrasse, according to the investigation, two more were bought with similar arrangements in the same village, according to the investigation. In addition, one of them – exclusively for staff – is bodyguards, servants, drivers.

The prosecutor and the detectives are sure that Usmanov’s presence in Rottach-Egern met the criteria of residence since 2014 at the latest, which also includes residence tax. In autumn and winter he lived for months on the shores of Lake Tegernsee, according to insiders he was once registered here and in Munich.

Fatal love of the oligarch

So the oligarch’s love for the Bavarian landscape can prove fatal. By continuing this thread, German investigators will likely be able to open tax evasion cases. From what income? The parquet has also taken care of that.

Winter idyll in Rottach-EgernPhoto: picture-alliance/dpa/M.Balk

For example, Alisher Usmanov formally rented alone, and for a penny, that villa at 12 Fischerstrasse, from the Tegernsee (IOM) Limited company registered on the Isle of Man, which bought it for 7.2 million euros.

Even if the investigation doesn’t show that Usmanov and his sister are behind this company – through another company in Bermuda, he will have to pay taxes on the difference between the small amount Usmanov paid (actually to himself) and the real market rent on these locations for comparable homes. The difference is considered hidden income received from Tegernsee (IOM) Limited, which should be shared with the German Financial Inspectorate. In ten years, the amount will run into several million.

Yacht Dilbar…

Another example: the yacht Dilbar. 156 meters, two helicopters and a helicopter hangar, a huge swimming pool. Launched in 2015 at the Lürssen shipyard in Bremen. The estimated value of the ship is well over half a billion euros. Hunt underwent repairs in the dry dock of the Blohm + Voss shipyard in Hamburg, was arrested in April and towed to Bremen accompanied by customs officers.

Yacht “Dilbar” (archive photo)Photo: Imago/M. Segerer

Formally, the yacht is owned by Navis Marine Limited in the Cayman Islands, which in turn co-owns a Cyprus company owned by Pomerol Capital SA in Switzerland, which is managed by a company called The Sister Trust. Since December 2017, it has been officially owned by Usmanov’s sister Gulbahor Ismailova, who was also subject to personal EU sanctions.

In this example, Usmanov could even be tried twice for tax evasion. Once, if he can’t convincingly prove that he paid the right price for chartering the “foreign” yacht. And the second time – for non-payment of the gift tax, if in the end it turns out that he ordered the ship himself, shares in it or in a company, he donated to his sister.

… and a private Airbus A340

The charge of tax evasion on hidden earnings and donations threatens Usmanov not only because of the Dilbar yacht, but also because of the personal Airbus A340 plane he is carrying. managed to fly away from Munich a few hours before the official imposition of EU personal sanctions against him.

Airbus A340Photo: Imago/Udo Kroner

For some time, the liner has also been in the possession of his sister. If Usmanov gave her a plane, you’ll have to pay gift tax. If he rented, he must show an invoice with payment at market rates.

Even more expensive for Usmanov could be the possible fraud with his billion-dollar stake USM Holding Ltd. Until 2014, the oligarch held a stake of at least 58 percent, according to the German prosecutor’s office. Later, he apparently transferred at least 10 percent to the new co-owners. Since the researchers have no data that Usmanov sold part of his property, we can also speak of non-payment of gift taxes in this case.

According to the weekly Der Spiegel, the researchers assume that from 2014 to 2022, Usmanov paid no taxes on income and donations totaling 555 million euros.

Usmanov and the German “laundry”?

But that is not everything. Apparently, compromising evidence is being collected against Alisher Usmanov in Germany and on suspicion of money launderingand large-scale searches were the start of a new investigation, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

in my time Alexey Navalny accused Usmanov of illegally obtaining huge revenues and tax evasion during the privatization of metallurgical companies using an ingenious offshore company design.

If so, if this income “flowed” to the villas on the shores of the Tegernsee, Dilbar’s yacht, then it is no longer tax evasion, but money laundering. For eight years – from 2014 to 2022 – Germany’s supervisory authorities received more than 90 signals from German banks about suspicious financial transactions related to the name of the Russian dollar billionaire.

Usmanov is currently demanding the lifting of the sanctions imposed against him at the European Court. Viktor Yanukovych once succeeded in this. But it is unlikely that Alisher Usmanov will be able to return to the Bavarian idyll on the banks of Lake Tegernsee, even if the case is won in court.

also see:

Navalny called on EU to impose sanctions on Putin’s friends

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Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at cablefreetv.org

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