Businessman and Wagner PMC founder Yevgeny Prigozhin successfully passed a money laundering check by Discreet Law, a British law firm, by submitting a gas bill in his mother’s name. This is reported by the Financial Times.
Discreet Law Prigozhin was hired in 2021 to sue Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins over reports of his responsibility for Wagner PMC operations in Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere. At the same time, in September 2022, Prigozhin admitted that he was the creator of the Wagner PMC.
Discreet Law, prior to the conclusion of the contract, requested Prigozhin’s identity documents. In response, the businessman’s lawyers sent a copy of his passport and gas bills issued in the name of his mother, Violetta Prigozhina. Now she is 83 years old, in 2022 she fell under EU sanctions.
The lawyers of the British company reported that they were satisfied with the documents. Discreet Law then applied to government agencies for permission to act on behalf of Prigozhin, who is under sanctions.
The founder of Discreet Law, Roger Gerson, declined to answer questions from the publication, citing the confidentiality of relations with clients. According to him, the company’s position is to comply with legal and professional obligations.
Labor MP Margaret Hodge called the law firm’s decision to take on “such a client” outrageous. “It’s ridiculous that a Russian military chief avoided all suspicions of money laundering by simply taking advantage of his elderly mother’s gas bills,” she said, adding that customers need to be carefully vetted.
“PMC Wagner” does not appear on the balance sheet of military departments and in the register of legal entities, however, its fighters, according to numerous journalistic investigations, take part in Russian ground operations in Syria and in the war in Ukraine. Its fighters are suspected of committing numerous war crimes. In the summer of 2022, Wagner PMC began recruiting prisoners for the war in Ukraine. Recruitment is personally handled by Prigozhin, who travels to colonies in different regions of the country.
At the end of January, the US authorities officially declared the Wagner PMC a transnational criminal organization and imposed sanctions against structures associated with the military company and Prigozhin. Yevgeny Prigozhin himself has been under sanctions from the United States, the European Union, Great Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Japan since 2016.
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