Exiled Georgian billionaire's death 'suspicious'
Arkadi "Badri" Patarkatsishvili
An exiled Georgian billionaire who moved to Britain after threats to kill him has been found dead at his mansion in Surrey.
Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of Arkadi "Badri" Patarkatsishvili, a charismatic oligarch and Georgia’s richest man, who died last night at the age of 52.
Friends have told the Daily Telegraph the preliminary cause of death appears to be heart failure but a post mortem is being carried out to investigate what brought on the heart attack.
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His body was discovered at 11pm last night at the billionaire businessman’s £10m home in Leatherhead, Surrey.
Scotland Yard had been asked to investigate an alleged plot to assassinate Mr Patarkatsishvili after he suddenly withdrew from the Georgian presidential elections in December.
In one of his last interviews, he told the Daily Telegraph he was too afraid to return home to Georgia, and that his life was in danger after at least two attempts had been launched to try and kill him in Britain.
The businessman, who is worth around £6bn, said: "The way they are going is proving they have only one plan – to get rid of me."
Asked if he planned to return to his home country, he said: "I intend to stay in London. I haven’t decided to die yet so I’m not going to go to Georgia for the moment."
Friends of Mr Patarkatsishvili had handed a tape to Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command, which allegedly carries a conversation between a Georgian official and a Chechen warlord, Uvais Akhmadov, recorded in the summer of 2006, in which he offers to pay the Chechen to assassinate Mr Patarkatsishvili.
The Georgian businessman also claimed that four men were sent from the interior ministry to the Georgian embassy in London two months ago with instructions to kill him.
He faced allegations in his homeland of planning a coup and was facing investigations into his business affairs, which include the TV station Imedi.
The case could have dramatic echoes of the Alexander Litvinenko case, the former Russian spy allegedly poisoned in a London hotel by a former KGB bodyguard.
Like his friend, the Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky, who fell out with Russian president Vladimir Putin, Mr Patarkatsishvili, had fallen out with the Georgian president, Mikhail Saakashvili, a man he once backed for the top job.
Mr Berezovsky, who employed Litvinenko, was visited at his London offices by the Georgian in the evening of his death.
He said: "The death of Badri Patarkatsishvili is a terrible tragedy. I have lost my closest friend. This is a huge loss for all of his family and friends.
"I shall make no further comment on the circumstances of Badri’s death. I shall wait for the authorities to complete their investigation."
A Surrey Police spokeswoman said today: "Police were called to an address in Leatherhead late yesterday evening following the collapse and death of Georgian businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili, believed to be 52 years of age.
"As with all unexplained deaths, it is being treated as suspicious. "
A post-mortem examination will be held later today to establish the cause of death."
Article from: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml