Russia Vows to Seek Recovery of Late Tycoon Berezovsky’s Assets

Russia will continue attempts to return the late tycoon Boris Berezovsky’s assets from abroad, Deputy Chief Prosecutor Alexander Zvyagintsev said.

“Berezovsky was accused of committing a number of grave economic crimes,” Zvyagintsev said today in an e-mailed statement from the prosecutor’s office in Moscow. The office will continue its efforts to ensure that “Berezovsky and his accomplices’ criminal assets, legalized abroad,” are returned to Russia, according to the statement.

The 67-year-old tycoon, one of Russia’s first and best-known oligarchs, was found dead March 23 at his U.K. home. Thames Valley Police, which is investigating at the property in Ascot, near London, said yesterday it had found no evidence “at this stage to suggest any third-party involvement” in the death, which remains “unexplained.” Police said they would announce the results of the autopsy early this afternoon.

Berezovsky lived in self-imposed exile in the U.K. to avoid potential prosecution in Russia. Once a close patron of Russian power as a friend of Boris Yeltsin, he sparred publicly in recent years with President Vladimir Putin.

Berezovsky fled Russia for the U.K. in 2000 after backing Putin in his first presidential campaign. He was given political asylum three years later. Berezovsky said in a 2007 interview that he was worth $4 billion and that he was using a part of his fortune to finance “a revolution in Russia without blood.” Forbes magazine dropped the tycoon from its rich list in 2010, after estimating his wealth at $1 billion the previous year.

During the Yeltsin era, Berezovsky built his political influence, serving as Security Council deputy secretary in 1996 to 1997 and as a lawmaker in 1999 to 2000. He gained holdings of companies including OAO Aeroflot, Russia’s biggest airline, state-run television channel ORT and the Kommersant publishing house. He claimed stakes in OAO Sibneft, the oil producer now named OAO Gazprom Neft, and Russian Aluminum, now part of fellow billionaire Oleg Deripaska’s United Co. Rusal.