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German court deems raids against Russian-Uzbek oligarch unlawful -lawyers

FILE PHOTO: German police storm estate of Russian oligarch Usmanov

BERLIN (Reuters) - A German court has ruled that raids conducted last year at the Bavarian villa of Russian-Uzbek oligarch Alisher Usmanov and other locations were unlawful, a law firm representing him said in a statement on Friday.

The firm, hired by the Uzbek Embassy, said any basis for suspected money laundering by Usmanov "does not exist, has never existed, and all search measures of the public prosecutor's office in Frankfurt based on this suspicion were, without exception, unlawful".

The court in Frankfurt confirmed that it was handling the case but gave no details of the decision. The Munich prosecutor's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In September, over 250 police officers searched an apparently abandoned lakeside villa in the upmarket Bavarian holiday town of Rottach-Egern as part of the investigation against Usmanov.

Further raids were conducted on another property and a yacht registered to Usmanov, as well as an apartment belonging to another Uzbek national who was not a suspect in the money laundering investigation.

The law firm hired by the Uzbek Embassy said the court's decision confirmed that the case against Usmanov was "not factually justified, but politically motivated to the exclusion of all else".

Usmanov's own defence team also commented, saying in a statement the decision "reaffirmed our client's trust in Germany as a functioning constitutional state" and that it "should offer food for thought ... to everyone who contributed to creating a prejudiced view towards our client throughout Germany".

(Reporting by Matthias Inverardi and Friederike Heine; editing by Mark Heinrich)