People vow to stop shopping at Holland & Barrett over oligarch Mikhail Fridman links


Brits are vowing to boycott Holland & Barrett after its billionaire oligarch owner was accused of enabling Vladmir Putin in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Mikhail Fridman, 57, was the UK’s 11th wealthiest man in The Sunday Times Rich List 2021, with a fortune of £10.9 billion. He was ranked as the 128th richest man in the world by Forbes in 2021. 

He has now been placed on the EU’s sanctions list in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, freezing his assets in member countries and banning him from travelling within the bloc. 

The Russian father-of-five calls Britain his home after buying Athlone House in North London for £65million in 2016. 

Together with fellow billionaires German Khan and Alexei Kuzmichev, Fridman owns Alfa Group and LetterOne investment groups. 

LetterOne is the owner of Holland & Barrett and outraged Brits are now calling for a boycott of the company in light of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Mikhail Fridman, 57, has been slapped with sanctions by the EU over Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Mikhail Fridman, 57, has been slapped with sanctions by the EU over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

Together with fellow billionaires German Khan and Alexei Kuzmichev, Fridman owns Alfa Group and LetterOne investment groups. LetterOne is the owner of Holland & Barrett

Together with fellow billionaires German Khan and Alexei Kuzmichev, Fridman owns Alfa Group and LetterOne investment groups. LetterOne is the owner of Holland & Barrett

A Holland & Barrett spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘Our thoughts are with those affected by the situation in Ukraine. We are a UK registered company that has grown over the last 150 years from one store in the UK to over 1,600 stores and operations in 19 countries around the world. 

‘We are not affected by any sanctions, nor do we expect to be. Our focus, as always, is on supporting the wellness of our colleagues and customers.’ 

A source also insisted that Fridman ‘does not own’ Holland & Barrett and pointed out that Fridman stepped down from the board of LetterOne last night.  

The EU put Fridman on its sanction list, alongside his business partner Petr Aven and Everton football club-linked financier Alisher Usmanov. 

It described Fridman as ‘a top Russian financier and enabler of Putin’s inner circle’.

Fridman is accused of being close to Putin and of using his connections within the Russian government to acquire state assets.  

Vladimir Putin’s eldest daughter, Maria, ran a charity project, Alfa-Endo, which was funded by Fridman’s Alfa Bank. 

Later, Putin rewarded Alfa Group by providing political help to its ‘foreign investment plans’, according to the EU. 

Aven, 66, is described by the EU as one of Putin’s ‘closest oligarchs’. He joined Alfa Bank in the 1990s after serving as President Yeltsin’s trade minister. 

The EU document added: ‘He is one of approximately 50 wealthy Russian businessmen who regularly meet with Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin.’ 

Meanwhile, Usmanov, 68, is said to be ‘one of Putin’s favourite oligarchs’ and is linked to Everton through sponsorship deals, having previously been a major shareholder at Arsenal.  

The EU says that Kremlin figures ‘benefited from the personal use of luxurious residences controlled by Mr Usmanov’ and he made a $6 payment to Putin’s adviser Valentin Yumashev.  

The Russian father-of-five calls Britain his home after buying Athlone House in North London for £65million in 2016

The Russian father-of-five calls Britain his home after buying Athlone House in North London for £65million in 2016

Though Fridman has refused to criticise Putin and Russia since the invasion began, he called for bloodshed to end over the weekend. 

He said the war was a ‘tragedy’ for both countries’ people and told LetterOne staff in a letter that the conflict was driving a wedge between the two eastern Slav peoples of Russia and Ukraine, who have been brothers for centuries.

He wrote: ‘I was born in Western Ukraine and lived there until I was 17. My parents are Ukrainian citizens and live in Lviv, my favourite city.

‘But I have also spent much of my life as a citizen of Russia, building and growing businesses. I am deeply attached to the Ukrainian and Russian peoples and see the current conflict as a tragedy for them both.’ 

Britain has not placed Fridman, Aven or Usmanov under sanctions. 

However, the Foreign Office is preparing a ‘hit list’ of Russian oligarchs to be targeted by sanctions in the coming months and fears the conflict in Ukraine could last a decade.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said there would be ‘nowhere left to hide’ for the super-rich allies of Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin.

It comes after Boris Johnson last week named eight high net worth Russians who will be hit by travel bans and asset freezes along with more the 100 individuals, entities and subsidiaries.

Separately the Home Office is going to give more power to the National Crime Agency to explore issuing Unexplained Wealth Orders to find out where money has come from.

Ms Truss said there would be new names added to the list every few weeks as ministers seek to ratchet up the pressure on Mr Putin following his invasion of Ukraine. 

Roman Abramovich is selling off his £200m London property portfolio within days to avoid having his assets frozen in case he is sanctioned by Britain, it was reported last night

Roman Abramovich is selling off his £200m London property portfolio within days to avoid having his assets frozen in case he is sanctioned by Britain, it was reported last night

Now Abramovich is said to be looking to offload his 15-bedroom mansion at Kensington Palace Gardens, valued at more than £150 million. The property sits on a road between several embassies and is guarded at each end

Now Abramovich is said to be looking to offload his 15-bedroom mansion at Kensington Palace Gardens, valued at more than £150 million. The property sits on a road between several embassies and is guarded at each end

Abramovich also wants to offload a three-storey penthouse at Chelsea Waterfront, worth an estimated £22 million

Abramovich also wants to offload a three-storey penthouse at Chelsea Waterfront, worth an estimated £22 million

Sources in the Foreign Office are said to be bracing for the possibility Russian aggression in the region could go on for as long as ten years.

It comes as it was reported that Roman Abramovich is selling off his £200m London property portfolio within days to avoid having his assets frozen in case he is sanctioned by Britain. 

He is also said to have instructed American bank the Raine Group to handle the sale of Chelsea football club.

Mr Abramovich vehemently denies he is close to the Kremlin or has done anything that would merit sanctions being imposed against him 

It is understood that the Russian is targeting American buyers as investment from China, the Far East and Eastern Europe has dried up for political reasons, although there are major doubts that any potential buyer will meet his £3billion valuation.

The Raine Group first acted for Chelsea in 2018 after talks with US private equity firm Silverlake and British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe broke up without reaching an agreement.

The club has effectively been for sale ever since due to Abramovich’s conflict with the UK government after the Home Office declined to issue him a visa, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine giving him fresh impetus to sell.

Chelsea declined to comment. Abramovich wants a minimum of £3billion to sell Chelsea as he invites bids for the club.

But there are emerging doubts that the Russian oligarch will receive anywhere near that mark. 

Swiss billionaire Hansjorg Wyss, worth £4.3bn, claims he has been approached to consider buying Chelsea, potentially as part of a consortium.

Speaking to Swiss newspaper Blick, Wyss said: ‘Like all other oligarchs, he (Abramovich) is also in a panic. Abramovich is trying to sell all his villas in England. He also wants to get rid of Chelsea quickly. I and three other people received an offer on Tuesday to buy Chelsea from Abramovich.

‘I have to wait four to five days now. Abramovich is currently asking far too much. You know, Chelsea owe him £2bn.

‘As of today, we don’t know the exact selling price. I can well imagine starting at Chelsea with partners. But I have to examine the general conditions first. But what I can already say: I’m definitely not doing something like this alone. If I buy Chelsea, then with a consortium consisting of six to seven investors.’

Abramovich is also said to be looking to offload his 15-bedroom mansion at Kensington Palace Gardens, valued at more than £150 million, and a three-storey penthouse at Chelsea Waterfront, worth an estimated £22 million.

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