The former chef of Russian President Vladimir Putin evaded UK financial sanctions by giving lawyers his 81-year-old mother's gas bill as a form of ID.
Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin once provided food and catering services to Putin's Kremlin base but now heads up the feared mercenary group.
When Prigozhin was placed under sanctions by the UK, US and EU, he needed to provide ID to British law firm Discreet Law as part of anti-money laundering checks.
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In response, he handed over a picture of his passport and a gas bill belonging to his mother Viloetta.
This was oddly accepted.
According to the Financial Times, his lawyers wrote in an email to the UK firm: “The bill is issued in the name of the claimant's mother who actually lives at the client's residential address and pays the bill.”
Discreet Law responded that they were “satisfied” with the documents, and applied for permission from the UK Treasury to act on his behalf in this country.
He had hired the firm in 2021 to help file a libel case against Eliot Higgins relating to tweets about the Wagner group.
These were struck out in May, 2022, two months after Discreet Law withdrew its services.
Labour MP Margaret Hodge slammed the law firm, and called for urgent reform.
She said: “It is ridiculous that a Russian warlord avoided all suspicion of money laundering by simply using his elderly mother's gas bills.
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“Our bankers, accountants and lawyers all have a duty to perform robust checks on their customers.”
Discreet Law's founder Roger Gherson did comment on the matter.
He said: “Discreet Law cannot comment on confidential communications with their former clients.
“Discreet Law’s position is that in taking instructions and undertaking due diligence they have at all times complied fully with their legal and professional obligations.”
The Wagner Group is thought to have committed several war crimes in Ukraine in the year since the invasion began.
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