EU court lifts sanctions against Fridman and Aven

The European Court of General Jurisdiction on Wednesday overturned a decision to place Russian billionaires Mikhail Fridman and Pyotr Aven on an EU sanctions list.

“The European Court of General Jurisdiction considers that none of the reasons set out in the original rulings are sufficiently reasoned and thus that the inclusion of Mr. Aven and Mr. Fridman on these lists was unjustified”,  the court said in a statement.

The court ruled that the billionaires should not have been placed on the sanctions list from February 2022 to March 2023.

Fridman told RBC that he and Aven were “satisfied with this decision”.

The EU, in imposing sanctions against the billionaires in February 2022, described Aven as one of the oligarchs closest to Putin and a close friend of Rosneft chief Igor Sechin, while Fridman described Aven as one of Russia’s leading financiers and “an intermediary of Putin’s inner circle”. Both businessmen found the allegations in the EU ruling to be unfounded and challenged the sanctions.

Fridman and Aven have also been under UK sanctions since March 2022 and on the US sanctions list since August 2023.

Both businessmen are shareholders in LetterOne with investments of more than 25 billion pounds ($33.5 billion) in the technology, energy, healthcare and retail sectors. Their shares are frozen.

Fridman and Aven are also major shareholders in Alfa Group, which includes Alfa Bank and X5 Retail Group, one of Russia’s largest food retailers.

The businessmen had planned to sell their shares in Alfa Bank to another beneficiary, Andrei Kosogov, but the deal was delayed by a lack of approval in Cyprus.

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