At the Villa Hier on the French Riviera with an area of 12,000 square meters, owned, presumably, by the Russian billionaire Suleiman Kerimov, searches were conducted, writes the local edition of Nice Matin.
According to the newspaper, the cause of the investigative actions were some transactions carried out with the villa. Among the documents of the police investigation was an account with €580 000 for the manufacture of curtains on the windows, the newspaper notes. The searches were carried out on February 15, but the information has just been published.
If the investigation confirms that the real owner of this complex of villas is Kerimov, he will be one of the largest owners of housing in Cap d'Antibes, writes Nice Matin. The newspaper adds that the Kerimov family regularly appears in these places.
Officially, the owner of the Villa Hier, as well as the neighboring Medy Roc, Lexa and Fiorella (all located on the site of the former Villa Pellerin) is listed as Swiss financier Alexander Studhalter. Their total area exceeds 90,000 square meters. As Forbes wrote, in 2011 Villa Medy Rock was put up for sale for €20 million. Whether it was sold, is still unknown.
Now the French police is finding out if Studhalter is the nominal owner of this complex in the interests of Kerimov, and also studies the circumstances of the purchase: the investigators suspect that the purchase price in the documents differs from the real one. Some details suggest that the transaction was conducted through Switzerland using dark financial schemes.
The official price for the sale of the Hier villa, at least for French taxation, was €35 million. However, according to some reports, €61 million was transferred to the accounts of the seller from Switzerland. The seller was a rich Corsican family.
Since the end of 2014, when the investigation of this case began, the tax authorities have already confiscated property worth €17 million: this amount included real estate, works of art, jewelry and luxury cars. Now the tax authorities will be able to confiscate all this property, the edition said. "Although they can confine themselves to Ferrari Enzo and Bugatti Veyron, which, as the investigative team led by Alexander Julien discovered, left the garage," the edition adds.
The representative of Kerimov refused to comment on Forbes information about the searches. Assistant Senator Alexey Krasovsky later said Suleiman Kerimov is not the owner of real estate, mentioned in publications, or other real estate outside of Russia. "An exhaustive list of property owned by Kerimov is indicated in his official declaration," he explained (quoted by Interfax).
According to Forbes, the wealth of Suleiman Kerimov is estimated at $1.6 billion, in 2016 he had the 45th place in the rating of "200 richest businessmen in Russia 2016".