The daughter of a Russia billionaire businessman, who has close links to Vladimir Putin and co-owns London’s biggest private home, has urged Britain not to give her father a visa.
Olga Litvinenko, 34, accused her father, Vladimir, of making his fortune through his personal relationship with the Russian president – whom he has known since the 90s.
The call comes amid signs a wider crack down is already under way on wealthy Russians in Britain – with delays in issuing a new visa to Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.
Olga Litvinenko, 34, accused her father, Vladimir, of making his fortune through his personal relationship with the Russian president – whom he has known since the 90s
Mr Litvinenko has been called ‘Russia’s richest professor’ by opposition figures and is the rector of the St Petersburg Mining Institute
Ms Litvinenko, who fled Russia in 2011, claims that her father is one of the owners of Witanhurst in Highgate – London’s biggest private home (pictured)
Mr Litvinenko has been called ‘Russia’s richest professor’ by opposition figures and is the rector of the St Petersburg Mining Institute.
He has an estimated wealth of more than £749million and headed Putin’s presidential campaign in St Petersburg in 2000, 2004 qand 2012.
In a letter to the Home Office, a copy of which has been seen by The Times, Ms Litvinenko also urged the Home Office to block two other men, both wealthy individuals and close friends of her father, from being granted UK visas.
Mr Litvinenko has always denied allegations of corruption and it is unclear if Mr Litvinenko currently possesses an investment visa.
Ms Litvinenko, who fled Russia in 2011, claims that her father is one of the owners of Witanhurst – London’s biggest private home.
The Highgate mansion is said to echo the grandeur of Versailles: a 25-bedroom mansion with a 70ft-long ballroom, whose yellow, blue and gold ceiling took six months to paint and gild.
The Georgian ‘Orangery’, a three-storey addition, has a basement with massage rooms, a gym and a swimming pool fit for Olympic athletes.
Ms Litvinenko is currently fighting with her father over custody of her daughter, Ester-Maria, eight, who she has not seen since 2010.
British ministers are facing demands to hammer Russian oligarchs with tough sanctions today as the new Magnitsky law comes into force.
Campaigners and MPs want the government to make immediate use of the powers to hit allies of Vladimir Putin linked to human rights abuses.
The issues with Mr Abramovich’s visa case are separate to the Magnitsky measures. Sources close to the billionaire have reportedly denied he is being asked to prove where his money comes from, instead blaming normal visa processing delays.
But with relations between the countries the worst for decades, security minister Ben Wallace has made clear he expects more oligarchs will find life ‘trickier’ in London in the future.
Campaigners and MPs want the government to make immediate use of the powers to hit allies of Vladimir Putin (pictured) linked to human rights abuses
The issues with Mr Abramovich’s visa case are separate to the Magnitsky measures. Sources close to Mr Abramovich have reportedly denied he is being asked to prove where his wealth comes from and he is just experiencing normal visa processing delays
The Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act containing the Magnitsky measures is due to get Royal Assent later, and allows Whitehall to take swingeing steps including freezing assets when people are linked to human rights abuses.
The sanctions were named to commemorate Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian lawyer who claimed in 2008 that fraud was being committed by corrupt Interior Ministry officials.
Mr Magnitsky was arrested shortly after, accused of stealing the money himself and died a year later in jail after what supporters claim was a systematic torture campaign.
Five of the Russians named in US list as Putin’s cronies who have links to Britain
(estimated wealth: £9.6bn)
Born in what is now Uzbekistan, Mr Usmanov has interests in metals and mining as well as some of Russia’s biggest telecoms and internet firms.
He is also a part-owner of Arsenal FC in and president of the International Fencing Federation.
Last year, he won a libel case against Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny over a video regarding Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s alleged secret wealth.
Mr Usmanov was jailed for six years in 1980 on charges of fraud and ‘theft of socialist property’ in the Uzbek SSR.
But his conviction was quashed in 2000 when independent Uzbekistan’s supreme court said it was ‘unjust’.
(estimated wealth: £8.3bn)
Perhaps best known internationally as the owner of Chelsea FC, he made his fortune in oil and aluminium during the chaotic years that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Mr Abramovich has since embraced a glamorous lifestyle, with vast private yachts, art deals and his ownership of Chelsea, which he bought in 2003 and turned into title contenders in England.
His former business partner, Boris Berezovsky, accused Mr Abramovich of harassing him with ‘threats and intimidation’ in 2008 so he would sell shares at a lower price than their value.
Mr Berezovsky later brought a High Court suit against Mr Abramovich in London, seeking over £3billion in damages, but it was dismissed in 2012.
(estimated wealth: £8.3bn)
Mr Rotenberg is Mr Putin’s former judo partner, and hit the headlines in Britain last month after he lost a battle to stay anonymous following a court dispute in London with his ex-wife over money.
Mr Rotenberg and his ex-wife Natalia were locked in a legal dispute after he argued that he should not have to make a divorce payout to her because his assets within the EU were frozen.
The long-term acquaintance of Mr Putin cannot come to Britain, where his ex-wife now lives in Surrey, because of European Union sanctions.
Most of his money comes from Kremlin-awarded contracts given to his engineering company, including a current project to build a bridge between Russia and Crimea.
Four years ago EU ministers froze funds – and imposed a ‘ban on staying’ in EU territories – against people whose ‘actions’ threatened the independence of Ukraine.
(estimated wealth: £4.6bn)
Mr Deripaska, who is said to be a close ally of Mr Putin, raised an estimated £1billion through his energy firm EN+ after floating it on the London Stock Exchange last year.
But MI6 raised concerns over the flotation by the 49-year-old father-of-two who has links to military hardware production.
In 2008, Mr Deripaska was listed by Forbes as the ninth richest man in the world, worth about $28billion.
But when the financial crisis hit he almost went bankrupt, before bouncing back with the help of the Kremlin, according to some reports.
He hit the headlines in 2017 when he was found to have ties with Paul Manfort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman.
And last year David Cameron’s former energy minister Greg Barker was appointed chairman of EN+, with critics saying the move was further worrying evidence of the ‘revolving door’ between Whitehall and the City.
Lord Mandelson was an acquaintance of Mr Deripaska, who hosted him on his super-yacht, where the pair holidayed alongside Nat Rothschild, then shadow chancellor George Osborne and Tory fundraiser Andrew Feldman in 2008.
(estimated wealth: £11.7bn)
Vladimir Potanin, one of Moscow’s most prominent tycoons, is known in the Britain press for his former marriage to Natalia Potanina.
The couple divorced in 2014 after a 31 year marriage, and she was denied £2.9billion claim by a Russian court because she made it too late.
But she launched a separate legal battle for a world-record £11.7billion against him and there is speculation that she will end up moving her claim to London, where she has a home.
Mr Potanin has previously told courts that he is no longer a billionaire, and is down to his last millions, living on a salary of £373,000 a month.
Meanwhile, Oleg Deripaska is currently taking Roman Abramovich to court in London to prevent the latter from selling his stake in mining firm Norilsk Nickel to rival Mr Potanin.
Mr Potanin, who is chief excutive of Norilsk Nickel, is being represented by former attorney general Lord Goldsmith, who is said to have charged other Russian billionaires nearly £1,000 an hour.
The US magnitsky’s law has since been extended to include allegations beyond that particular case
Financier Bill Browder, who employed Mr Magnitsky and campaigned for parliament to pass the law, said there should be ‘swift and robust action’ by the UK government and ‘top Putin oligarchs should be on that list’.
The US version of Magnitsky ‘definitely affected the psychology of Putin, and if the British government were to do anything less it would tell Russia it can keep killing people on British soil’, he told the Guardian.
John Penrose, a Conservative backbencher and former minister, also said it was time for the UK to follow the US lead.
‘Given the extensive intelligence sharing and security co-operation between Britain and USA, if we don’t announce our own sanctions pretty soon it will look extremely odd.
‘The UK needs to publish a British equivalent of the US’s list right now.’
The law would stop individuals known to be corrupt or who abuse human rights from travelling to and living in Britain, and politicians backing it say this will help stop London becoming a destination for dodgy Russian money.
The US passed its Magnitsky Act in 2012.
It initially imposed asset freezes on individuals linked to that case – but was later extended to those who had profited from other human rights abuses.
The US list includes Mr Abramovich and other senior business figures like Oleg Deripaska. There are no suggestions that either would feature on a British version.
The UK is only the third country to adopt similar measures, after Estonia followed the US in 2016. MPs passed an amendment introducing the powers in February, despite some resistance from the government.
Canada and the EU have been considering their own versions.
Security minister Mr Wallace was asked during an interview yesterday if there would be ‘more cases over the next few weeks’ where wealthy oligarchs were finding it a bit more ‘tricky’ to live in London.
‘I think I can say yes. We have put in place a series of powers through legislation,’ he said.
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson suggested this week that was looking at Donald Trump’s recent decision to target dozens of tycoons, companies and key allies of Mr Putin.
‘The truth is actually that I think the effect of some of those sanctions particularly on some individuals has been very marked, and I’ve noted that, but we have our own systems and our own approach,’ Mr Johnson told reporters on a trip to south America.
‘There is a broader question about what the UK can do to crack down on people close to Putin who may have illicit or ill-gotten wealth.’