The court banned the media from calling oligarch Usmanov the owner of the villa

A German court has ruled against a newspaper’s claim that sanctioned billionaire Alisher Usmanov is the owner of a luxury property in Bavaria, after Usmanov became the subject of an investigation based on allegations that he owned real estate in Germany.
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The Regional Court of Hamburg has prohibited a German news outlet from spreading the claim that Russian-Uzbek billionaire Alisher Usmanov owns a luxury villa on Lake Tegernsee, according to a June 7th ruling obtained by EU Today.

The court’s ruling banned the newspaper Tegernseer Stimme from making or disseminating the claim that Usmanov is the owner of a property on Ganghoferstrasse in the lakeside town of Rottach-Egern.

The decision comes after Usmanov’s lawyers filed a complaint against the newspaper over a 2017 article, which claimed that Usmanov “is rumored to have owned a massive villa for about a year” on Lake Tegernsee.

Usmanov was placed under EU, US and UK sanctions in spring 2022 in connection to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The EU described him as a “a pro-Kremlin leading businessperson” with “particularly close ties to the President of the Russian Federation.”

He subsequently became the subject of an investigation into alleged tax evasion in Germany following media claims that he secretly owned luxury properties in the country.

The billionaire’s lawyers reject the charges and maintain that the properties belong to the irrevocable discretionary trusts, of which Usmanov is not even a beneficiary, and that are managed by independent trustees.

In the fall of 2022, German prosecutors and the Federal Criminal Police carried out large-scale raids on properties in Rottach-Egern and elsewhere in Germany as part of their investigation into Usmanov.

A number of the raids were later declared unlawful by a German court, which found insufficient grounds to suspect that a crime had been committed.

The German investigation has since suffered a series of setbacks. Last summer, a Frankfurt court ruled that authorities had unlawfully searched the Munich law office representing Usmanov in Germany.

This March, the Federal Criminal Police Office quietly deleted its two posts on the social network X that named Usmanov’s sister Gulbakhor Ismailova as the ultimate owner of assets suspectedly tied to the billionaire – namely the Dilbar mega-yacht, which had also been raided by German police in searches that were later declared unlawful, and which Usmanov’s defense says is held by an irrevocable discretionary trust.

The EU imposed sanctions against Ismailova in April 2022 on the grounds of her alleged ownership of the yacht and other properties in Europe.

Ismailova’s representatives have rejected these claims and say she has also “voluntarily and irrevocably” waived the right to receive any benefits from trusts established by Usmanov, even if sanctions are lifted.

As EU Today reported earlier, Usmanov’s defence has secured a number of legal victories against media claims about Usmanov’s alleged property ownership and broader allegations about his ties to the Russian government.

In January, a court in Hamburg ruled that Forbes magazine failed to substantiate its claim that Usmanov had “fronted for Putin” in an article that later formed the basis for the EU sanctions against him.

Another court earlier ruled against the Austrian newspaper Kurier, after the latter published an article claiming that Putin had called Usmanov “one of his favourite oligarchs.”

The court found this statement to be unsubstantiated and “defamatory.”

Usmanov’s lawyers have additionally secured court injunctions against the major German-language television channel RTL and Swiss German-language daily Blick for their dissemination of claims that he owns the Dilbar yacht and real estate at Tegernsee.

These rulings were made after the media were not able to back up their statements in court.

Usmanov, who has an estimated net worth of $13.6 billion, made his fortune in metals, telecoms and investments. He is reported to mainly reside in his native Uzbekistan.

The billionaire’s lawyers have said he was targeted as “prey” by EU sanctions officials due to his prominent status as a public figure and one of Russia’s wealthiest men.