Russian billionaires and businessmen: Mikhail Fridman (L) and Petr Aven (R) attend the plenary session of the Congress of Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) on the sidelines of Russian Business Week in Moscow, Russia, March,16,2017.
The EU sanctioned both Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven on February 28.Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images
  • Two Russian billionaires resigned from Alfa-Bank's board the day after the EU sanctioned them.
  • Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven also left the board of the ABH Holdings, per Bloomberg.
  • The EU called Aven one of Putin's "closest oligarchs" and Fridman an "enabler of Putin's inner circle."

Two Russian billionaires resigned from the boards of the Russian banking company Alfa-Bank, along with the holding company that owns it, days after they were sanctioned by the European Union.

Alfa-Bank's website lists Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven as having left the Moscow-based bank's board of directors in resignation applications dated March 1, one day after they were sanctioned. Bloomberg reported that they also resigned as directors of ABH Holdings, the bank's Luxembourg-based owner, citing a registry filing from March 3.

Bloomberg reported that Fridman is ABH Holdings' largest shareholder with a 33% stake, while Aven owns 12.4%.

The West has imposed heavy sanctions on Russia in an attempt to pressure President Vladimir Putin to end the invasion of Ukraine. As well as Russian banks, the West has sanctioned Russian elites and oligarchs.

The EU sanctioned Fridman and Aven on February 28 and has also imposed sanctions on Alfa-Bank.

The EU said that Aven, who formerly served as Russia's minister of foreign economic relations, is one of Putin's "closest oligarchs" and that he regularly meets the Russian president in the Kremlin. It added that Fridman was known as a "top Russian financier and enabler of Putin's inner circle."

Bloomberg reported that the day after Fridman and Aven resigned from ABH Holdings' board, Mervyn Davies, the new chairman of LetterOne, and Andrea Maffezzoni, an executive at UniCredit SpA, also resigned. Andrei Kosogov, a shareholder in LetterOne shareholder, resigned as an ABH director in a filing Monday, Bloomberg reported.

Alfa-Bank said on its website that Sergey Masotskiy and Alexander Galitsky resigned from its board in an application dated March 1, the same day as Fridman and Aven's applications.

ABH Holdings is owned by Russian conglomerate Alfa Group, which was founded by Fridman, who is a main shareholder alongside Aven, the EU says.

ABH Holdings has investments in banking groups and owns Alfa-Bank. ABH Holdings' website said that alongside Russia it operates in the Netherlands, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Cyprus, and Belarus, and that its total assets were valued at $73 billion as of December 2020.

According to its website, Alfa-Bank has 491 retail offices and around 25,000 employees. It describes itself as Russia's "largest privately owned bank." It has a subsidiary in the Netherlands, alongside financial subsidiaries in the UK and Cyprus.

Alfa-Bank and ABH Holdings didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment made outside of normal working hours.

Fridman and Aven were both board members at London-based investment firm LetterOne but it froze them out after they were sanctioned. Another member of Alfa-Bank's board, Andrei Kosogov, resigned from LetterOne's board on Monday.

Fridman has spoken out against Russia's invasion of Ukraine, calling it a "huge tragedy." He said that the EU's sanctions on him were "groundless and unfair." Fridman and Aven both told Reuters that they would "contest the spurious and unfounded basis for the imposition of these sanctions."

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