Former FIE President Alisher Usmanov's iron ore materials have been seized ©Getty Images

A court in Ukraine has seized underground warehouses allegedly owned by Russian oligarch and former International Fencing Federation (FIE) President Alisher Usmanov, believed to contain more than 160,000 tonnes of hidden iron ore across seaports in the invaded country.

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said this was worth approximately $54 million (£45 million/€51.2 million), according to Ukrainska Pravda.

"As a result of investigative and operational actions together with the detectives of the Financial Investigations Service, the location of the underground warehouses of the Russian Federation, where more than 160,000 [tonnes] of Ukrainian iron ore were stored, was established," said the SBU in a statement.

"The hidden raw materials were discovered on the territory of several seaports of Ukraine."

Uzbek-Russian Usmanov's company is said to own the warehouses and iron ore, with the SBU claiming there were attempts to transport the minerals to Russia.

Alisher Usmanov is regarded as a close ally of Vladimir Putin ©Getty Images
Alisher Usmanov is regarded as a close ally of Vladimir Putin ©Getty Images

The prosecutor general's office in Ukraine said these materials were not to leave the country adding that "a legal entity registered in a [European Union] country, together with Russian companies affiliated with" Usmanov shipped goods to Ukrainian businesses without paying custom charges or taxes, as reported by the Kyiv Independent.

However, a spokesperson from the company in question, Metalloinvest, has called the Ukrainian intel "false, absurd and deliberately misleading".

"Without any legal basis, the Ukrainian authorities have, in reality, seized iron ore produced by Metalloinvest's enterprises in Russia, which was intended for its foreign buyers," said the spokesperson.

"In February 2022, the Ukrainian authorities blocked the export of these cargoes, which were transiting through Ukraine under existing contracts, in particular to European clients.

"Therefore, this is in fact a seizure of old commercial cargo intended for foreign buyers, being illegally carried out by the Ukrainian authorities.

"The fact that the seizure of the cargo, the location of which has been known to the Ukrainian authorities for almost a year, has only now been officially announced, speaks volumes about the PR objectives of this action."

Usmanov, the seventh-richest man in Russia, is one of the oligarchs to have sanctions implemented on him by Ukraine, the United States, the United Kingdom and the EU following the invasion of Ukraine in February.

Shortly after the initial attack, Usmanov temporarily stepped down from his position as head of fencing after 14 years due to EU sanctions for his alleged ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Since then, the FIE has been led by Emmanuel Katsiadakis from Greece on an interim basis.