Squatters occupy London mansion believed to belong to Russian oligarch

A group of squatters displayed banners and a Ukrainian national flag on the facade of a mansion believed to belong to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska in Belgrave Square, central London, on March 14, 2022 as they occupy it . Oleg Deripaska is one of seven Russian oligarchs sanctioned by the British government.

Tolga Akmen | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON β€” Squatters have occupied a London mansion believed to belong to one of the British government’s sanctioned Russian oligarchs.

The property in Belgrave Square, one of London’s most exclusive areas, located minutes from Buckingham Palace – is believed to be owned by billionaire energy tycoon Oleg Deripaska, who was sanctioned by authorities last week for his links to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Protesters took possession of the luxury property early Monday, displaying it with Ukrainian flags and a sign that read “this property has been vacated”.

According to the BBC, the group claimed to be “doing the job” of the authorities, who have been criticized for their apparent delay in cracking down on members of Putin’s inner circle.

Police in riot gear reportedly entered the property at noon on Monday after reporting that the squatters were on the property. It is unclear how protesters gained access to the building.

In a statement seen by Sky News, the Metropolitan Police said they had carried out a search of the property and were “satisfied” that no protesters were inside. They added that they “continue to engage” with those on the balcony.

Ownership details of the historic multi-million pound Five Belgrave Square property are murky. However, High Court documents named Deripaska as the beneficial owner more than a decade ago, according to Sky.

Public records show the mansion was originally purchased and is currently owned by Ravellot Limited, an offshore company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, the BBC reported.

People protesting the invasion of Ukraine occupy a mansion, believed to be owned by family members of billionaire Oleg Deripaska, in London, Britain, Monday, March 14, 2022. The group plans to remain in the property until the end of the war and all of the refugees have been accommodated, said one of the protesters.

Jason Alden | Bloomberg | Getty Images

At the request of the National Crime Agency, five bank accounts belonging to Graham Bonham-Carter, the named contact for Ravellot Limited, are now subject to asset freezing orders over his alleged links to Deripaska.

“We can confirm that the NCA has obtained two account freezing orders relating to five bank accounts held by Mr. Graham Bonham-Carter,” the NCA said in a statement shared with CNBC.

β€œThe orders were obtained on the basis that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that the money in the accounts came from the laundering of funds from a sanctioned individual in the United States, namely Oleg Deripaska. “

The British government on Thursday listed Deripaska, founder of metallurgical and hydroelectric company EN+ and six other companies, on a growing list of Putin allies sanctioned by the authorities. The sanctions stipulate that his assets will be seized and his movements will be restricted.

The tycoon, whose wealth comes from the privatization of Russian state assets, has been under US sanctions since 2018.

Protesters reportedly demanded that the seven-bedroom mansion, which houses a Turkish bath and home cinema, be made available to Ukrainian refugees.

It comes after Britain’s Housing Minister Michael Gove touted a similar idea on Sunday, telling the BBC he was exploring the possibility of housing migrants in properties seized by the government.

“I want to explore an option that would allow us to use the homes and properties of sanctioned people for as long as they are sanctioned for humanitarian and other purposes,” he told the BBC.

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