Detectives investigating the “unexplained” death of Boris Berezovsky, the Russian oligarch, are looking into an alleged plot to kill a second Russian tycoon living in exile in Britain.
Police say they are carrying out an “ongoing investigation” after being told of a conspiracy to murder Andrey Borodin, a billionaire banker.
The existence of the plot, which has been reported to MI5, is understood to have been a factor in the surprise decision by the Home Office in February to grant Borodin political asylum.
Security sources say Thames Valley police were informed last December that a potential hitman had been approached by influential political figures in Chechnya and offered a large sum of money — thought to be as much as $1m (£660,000) — to kill Borodin. The ruling elite in Chechnya has close links to the Kremlin.
Details of the plot are said to have been disclosed after the hitman pulled out of the contract and information about it leaked to police.
While MI5 was initially wary of Borodin’s complaint, given his asylum bid, the alleged conspiracy is now understood to be considered credible.
Borodin, 45, has been labelled “the new Berezovsky” by fellow anti-Kremlin exiles after using his new base in Britain to fund human rights groups opposed to the Putin regime.
He fled to London in 2011 after claiming he was being persecuted by allies of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president. He was previously president and part-owner of the Bank of Moscow, but sold his share for $700m after becoming the subject of what he claims was a politically motivated fraud prosecution by Dmitry Medvedev, the former president, who is now Russia’s prime minister.
After arriving in Britain with his wife and daughter, Borodin bought Park Place estate, near Henley-on- Thames in Oxfordshire, for £140m, making it Britain’s most expensive home. The property is only 14 miles from Ascot, where the body of Berezovsky was found last month.
Police say that while they have so far found no evidence to suggest the involvement of a third party in his death, they cannot yet rule out foul play and are awaiting the results of toxicology and histology tests.
Thames Valley police said: “We can confirm we have received a report about a perceived threat to a 45-year-old man.” No arrests have been made.
Ian Burton, his lawyer, said: “Mr Borodin has no comment in relation to this matter.”