Russian billionaire Alexander Ponomarenko has lost his bid to lift the asset freeze from his $88.9 million Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat villa.
The tycoon, who was among the first Russians to be sanctioned following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, laid out his defense this week, arguing that he couldn’t finish paying the bills to complete the villa’s renovation work because the holding company which owns it has its assets was frozen. The Paris administrative court was not swayed, however, ruling against the billionaire.
The villa, which spans four acres and offers direct ocean views, is sited in one of France’s most coveted locations, regularly attracting Hollywood celebrities, royals and tech billionaires alike, according to Bloomberg.
They tycoon may still have hope of getting his both his villa back. French judges pointed out that the banker can turn to the mother of his children (who currently owns 95 percent of his company’s shares), to possibly free the seized assets since she was not a part of the investigation.
Pononomerenko isn’t the only high-profile Russian with villa problems. Billionaire Roman Abramovich’s Château de la Croë mansion in Cap d’Antibes near Nice, was seized last April. The property was originally purchased 2004. Andrey Melnichenko and Mikhail Fridman also had properties seized.
These seizures are no accident, of course. Earlier this year, French finance minister Bruno Le Marie created a special task force to draw up a list of all assets belonging to these billionaires and begin seizures. Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the French government has tracked down over 20 villas on the Côte d’Azur that belong to oligarchs facing sanctions.
Ponomarenko’s lawsuit will be heading to a different chamber within the courts’ system to further examine the substance of his arguments and come to a final decision.