A billionaire once known as "Putin's banker" fears for his life in France, his lawyers say, and has brought an 11 billion ($19.5 billion) lawsuit against the Russian state claiming it unlawfully seized his assets without compensation.

Sergey Pugachev, 52, once a confidant of both Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin, lives in fear and is constantly followed, a court heard.

Pugachev accuses Russia of stripping him of property, mining, and shipping assets without compensation after he fell out with members of Putin's inner circle in the late 2000s. The Government denies the accusations and is seeking Pugachev's arrest for embezzlement and misappropriation of assets, claims his lawyers have rejected.

In a press conference in Paris, they said a notice of arbitration had been delivered to Putin and several of his ministers. The claim is likely to be heard at the International Arbitration Court in the Hague.


"Russia has pursued a multi-pronged attack against me, my family, and my investments," Pugachev said. "I refuse to be intimidated by Russia's tactics."

In July, the one-time billionaire fled London, where his wife and children live, for France, where he has citizenship, saying he feared for his life after "devices" were found attached to his own car and one used for transporting his children.

He is receiving similar treatment in Paris, according to Lea Forestier, his Paris-based lawyer. His wife, Alexandra Tolstoy, an English descendant of the novelist Leo Tolstoy, declined to comment.