MOSCOW (AFP) – Interpol has launched a hunt for a powerful Kremlin insider turned critic who was once known as “Putin’s banker” but more recently ran into bankruptcy and left the country.
Russian authorities accuse Sergei Pugachyov of stealing state money issued to support his now-defunct Mezhprombank during the 2008-2009 global financial crisis.
The 51-year-old was once viewed as a leader of a hawkish Kremlin clan that allegedly was responsible for the arrest and jailing of former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky a decade ago.
Pugachyov was until June also the majority owner of the French luxury food chain Hediard.
But he recently left Russia for an undisclosed location and has since been one of the most vocal critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his new circle of rich confidants.
Pugachyov told the Financial Times in October that “today in Russia there is no private property. There are only serfs who belong to Putin.”
“Big business cannot live as before. It has to live under military rules,” he added.