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Report: Russian tycoon Fridman faces quizzing on Spanish corp raid

MOSCOW, Oct 7 (PRIME) -- Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman is facing questioning in Spain over allegations he illegally laid Уeconomic siegeФ to an acquisition target while camouflaging his true role, the Financial Times reported on Monday, quoting court documents.

An anti-corruption prosecutor suspects Fridman broke the countryТs criminal code in 2016 in an attempt to take control of Zed World Wide (ZWW), a Spanish mobile content and services business that later declared insolvency.

In a submission to the court, prosecutor Jose Grinda Gonzalez described the alleged attack on ZWW as a УraidФ, noting that Уthe word СraiderТ is used in the realm of organized Russian crime to describe the theft of a business. Either through violence, killing or economic strangulation.Ф

Fridman strongly denies the allegations, maintaining he neither sought to acquire ZWW nor controlled the companies the prosecutor claims have engaged in illegal conduct.

But Grinda said in his August court submission that Уthe allegation is based precisely on Fridman camouflaging his control of the criminal conduct through subordinatesФ.

The billionaire is known for fierce corporate battles, both in Russia and the west, as his Alfa Group has acquired extensive interests in banking, oil, retail and telecoms Ц sometimes through labyrinthine ownership structures.

In 2019 he took control through his holding company LetterOne of Spanish supermarket chain Dia after a bitter dispute with its previous management as its share price slumped.

Fridman is set to appear at a preliminary hearing in the ZWW case later in October.

LetterOne owns 47.9% of common and voting shares of Amsterdam-based VEON, the sole owner of Russian mobile operator VimpelCom, working under brand Beeline.


07.10.2019 15:22
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