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International Business Times UK
International Business Times UK
Niloy Chakrabarti

Billionaire Declared Missing And Dead In 2018 Is 'Possibly Living In Moscow With Mistress'

Haub could be plotting his death, says investigators. (Credit: Roland Weihrauch/dpa)

An investigation led by German broadcaster RTL revealed that German billionaire and retail tycoon Karl-Erivan Haub, 64, could have been living with his 44-year-old mistress, Veronika Ermilova, in Moscow after he was declared missing and dead in 2018.

The former owner of Tengelmann Group was training for a ski mountaineering race when he disappeared at Matterhorn Peak in Switzerland. The German-American was last seen moving up the hill alone in a lift one morning.

A six-day helicopter search didn't turn up any results. Three years later, a Cologne court declared him dead. His wife and two children survive him.

Plotting His Death

In 2021, Haub's brother Christian swore in a courtroom there were no signs that the billionaire was still alive. Christian, who took charge of Tengelmann's 75,000 employees, is now suspected of making false statements.

Christian claimed he commissioned a security service to investigate the "rumours" that Haub was still alive. Haub's net worth was estimated at £5.2 billion when he disappeared.

The investigation by RTL and media outlet Stern found several calls from Haub to Ermilova years ago, years before he disappeared. Some of the calls were as long as an hour. Investigators are also exploring the possibility that Haub was planning to fake his death with help from Ermilova and Russia.

Mistress Ran an Event Agency

The investigation found that Ermilova operated an "inconspicuous" event agency in St. Petersburg. The agency hosted activities like skiing, hiking, and climbing excursions for outdoor enthusiasts.

Suspicions remained that she was also working with Russia's FSB service. Her LinkedIn profile says she is a marketing director at a Russian Event travel experience firm. A separate Tengelmann Group probe later revealed that Haub's life was closely tangled with Ermilova.

Investigators think she "may work for the Russian domestic secret service FSB," but this "cannot be proven," according to a report. "What can be proven, however, is that she is always in the same places at the same time as Karl-Erivan Haub." Data suggested that Haub has met Ermilova for nearly a decade since 2008.

"It is not clear why these alleged meetings took place. It doesn't sound like a love vacation," the report added.

Working For The Russians

RTL Journalist Liv von Boetticher opined that Haub's vanishing in Switzerland and alleged appearances in Moscow could be due to illegal business deals.

"Karl-Erivan Haub is known to have done business with questionable people in the Russian economy," she claimed. "We assume that business with Russia or Russian business partners could have got Karl-Erivan in trouble in the West."

The investigation further revealed that Haub allegedly dialled Russian banker Andrey Suzdaltsev in both Russia and Geneva shortly before he passed away.

Sergey Grishin, oligarch and co-founder of RosEvroBank, reportedly died from an illness last year and was also one of Haub's business partners. However, there was no evidence of Grishin's funeral. Grishin caught the headlines after selling his California home to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2020.

In an interview, Boetticher also said Haub could be working for the Russians. "He could have been acting as a kind of influence agent for Russia in Germany... It's not about an agent with a floppy hat, a trench coat, or a James Bond, but about influence on politics and the economy," she added.

"(His disappearance came) when Tengelmann was doing pretty badly...and was expanding into Russia with the Obi DIY chain, for example," Boetticher continued. "I am sure it was not a skiing accident but a staged escape."

There are rumours that Haub skied through the Alps and landed in Italy.

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