The Uzbek-Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov won another legal battle in Germany after a Frankfurt court on October 26th ruled that all items seized during 2022 illegal searches as part of investigation against him must be returned to their rightful owners, according to a statement of his press office.
A copy of the ruling was obtained by EU Today.
In addition to various documents, seized properties include pieces of art, including a Chagall painting. The ruling follows a May 12th, 2023 court decision that a series of searches by Germany’s General Prosecutor’s Office of several properties, conducted as part of a money laundering investigation against Usmanov, were unlawful and based on “unsubstantiated speculation”.
In the fall of 2022, German prosecutors and the Federal Criminal Police Office carried out large-scale searches, involving armed special forces, in the town of Rottach-Eggern in Bavaria, on the Dilbar yacht in Hamburg and in an apartment near Frankfurt belonging to Usmanov’s friend.
Usmanov has denied ownership of the properties, including the luxury yacht, and maintained his innocence against money laundering charges.
Usmanov’s lawyers have called his prosecution “groundless” and “politically motivated” and have argued that the retention by the Prosecutor’s office of property seized during searches that were recognized as illegal was a deliberate action.
The court on October 26th ruled that the retention of seized property by German law enforcement authorities was unlawful and the items in question should be returned to their last known owners.
“The actions of the German investigative authorities against Alisher Usmanov can be characterised as a cascade of illegal actions that offend the notions of justice and legality.
Presented to the public as an impressive demonstration of political resolve, they in no way fulfil the principle of proportionality, which is the standard of law enforcement in a state governed by the rule of law,” lawyers Dr Peter Gauweiler and Dr Thomas Fischer, who represent the Embassy of Uzbekistan in Germany, said in statement commenting the decision.
“The decision of the Frankfurt District Court once again reminds the German law enforcement authorities of the need to respect the laws of our country and of the inadmissibility of arbitrary behaviour, including in relation to foreign nationals.”
Earlier, in July 2023, the Frankfurt’s Regional Court ruled that a search warrant issued in January 2023 to search the Munich law office representing Usmanov in Germany was unlawful and ordered that it be annulled.
According to Forbes List 2023, Uzbekistan-born Alisher Usmanov is Russia’s 8th richest man with a net worth of $14.4 billion from his wide array of assets in metals, telecoms and media.