England

Russian Alexander Perepilichny 'had criminal links'

Alexander Perepilichny
Image caption Alexander Perepilichny was being investigated by Interpol, the inquest heard

A Russian whistleblower who died in Surrey in 2012 had suspected criminal links that were being investigated by Interpol, a hearing was told.

The pre-inquest hearing was told Surrey Police would have been aware of the claims about Alexander Perepilichny.

The force was asked why it wants some documents in its possession to be kept secret, but Surrey Police said the line of questioning was irrelevant.

Mr Perepilichny, 44, died after collapsing near his home in Weybridge.

The inquest heard Interpol was investigating Mr Perepilichny's suspected previous involvement with Russian criminal gangs.

A communication from Interpol to the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (Soca) in 2010 claimed Mr Perepilichny was suspected of "fraud, money laundering and abuse of power".

Hermitage Capital Management, one of the interested parties at the inquest, said it suggested Surrey Police knew of his alleged criminal links and that this contradicted public statements made by the force to that end.

Surrey Police was asked if a move to keep some documents secret under public interest immunity rules had anything to do with a suggestion that Mr Perepilichny was "running with" or being "run by" British intelligence.

A representative for the force said this had been answered in previous hearings.

And a counsel to the inquest confirmed there were no outstanding issues for Surrey Police to answer.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Perepilichny's death has been compared to that of Alexander Litvinenko

Mr Perepilichny's death was originally attributed to natural causes but an earlier pre-inquest hearing heard traces of a rare poison were found in his stomach.

His death was also said to have parallels with the murder of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko.

The earlier hearing heard that like Mr Litvinenko, Mr Perepilichny had apparently received threats, particularly after handing over sensitive documents to Hermitage Capital Management.

That had led to the freezing of foreign bank accounts belonging to a group of Russian officials suspected of money laundering after a tax fraud, the hearing was told.

The hearing continues.

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