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French court rules to seize Berezovsky real estate in Antibes

June 26, 2014, 13:35 UTC+3 MOSCOW
This ruling could be seen as an example of close cooperation between Russian and French prosecution agencies on the return to Russia of illegally purchased assets
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Russian Prosecutor General’s Office

Russian Prosecutor General’s Office

© ITAR-TASS/Vyacheslav Prokofyev

MOSCOW, June 26. /ITAR-TASS/. A French court has ruled to seize the real estate once owned by late Russian fugitive oligarch Boris Berezovsky.

A spokesperson for the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office told ITAR-TASS on Thursday that the Marseille court had ruled to arrest Berezovsky’s house in the city of Antibes, Alpes-Maritimes department of southeastern France.

“The court satisfied the request of the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office within a criminal case investigated by Russian law enforcement agencies,” the spokesperson said.

A French legal entity is registered as the owner of this house. Despite this, the court accepted arguments of the Russian side that this property had been bought on behalf of and in the interests of Berezovsky, according to the spokesperson.

This ruling could be seen as an example of close cooperation between Russian and French prosecution agencies on the return to Russia of illegally purchased assets, she added.

The 67-year-old businessman, on Russia’s wanted list since 1999, was found dead in March 2013 in the bathroom of his house near Ascot, west of London, where he lived at that time. According to official uncorroborated theory, Berezovsky might have committed suicide. He was buried at Brookwood Cemetery in the county of Surrey on May 8, 2013.

Meanwhile, Russia's Investigative Committee is pursuing several criminal cases, in which Berezovsky was named.

Notably, he was sentenced in absentia to six years in jail on charges of embezzling more than 200 million rubles (about $6 million) from the Aeroflot airline.

He was sentenced in absentia to 13 years' custody for embezzling property of AvtoVAZ car manufacturer worth more than 50 billion rubles, and misappropriation of a land plot owned by the Zhukovka recreation centre. Another charge related to embezzling more than $13 million from SbS-AGRO bank.

However, more accusations fused into a single litigation. Cases against Berezovsky were opened in France and Switzerland. Russia's prosecutor general sought his extradition to Russia, but to no avail. City of London Magistrates’ Court several times refused to send him back to Russia, ruling that the self-exiled tycoon had enjoyed political asylum since 2003.

Meanwhile, Russian bailiffs have been searching for Berezovsky property to enforce proceedings levying 3.3 billion rubles (about $98.7 million) on Berezovsky and joint creditors. Last November, bailiffs received from the Russian embassy in Britain a copy of a temporary document confirming Berezovsky’s death and requested Moscow's Notary Chamber to open proceedings.

To date, the following Berezovsky property has been seized in Russia: Shares in the authorized capital of IDS Borjomi, Aqua Logistica, Borjomi Mineral Waters, Edelweiss L, Aqua Star and Litepskkurortresurs; real estate registered as owned by the companies Edelweiss L, Aqua Star, Litepskkurortresurs; and securities.

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