A former Russian banker is in a critical condition after being shot several times near London’s financial district, police sources have said.
German Gorbuntsov was entering a block of flats on the Isle of Dogs, close to the Canary Wharf area in east London, on Tuesday evening when a gunman opened fire. His condition was described as critical but stable.
Al Jazeera’s Simon McGregor-Wood, reporting from the scene of the crime, said that Gorbuntsov was believed to have been hit at least four times.
“At some point before 7:30pm local time Gorbuntsov came home to his luxury bloc of service apartments and then was attacked by an unknown gunman. Police described him as over six foot tall (1.83m), wearing dark clothes and using an automatic weapon of some kind.
“Police said Gorbuntsov was extremely badly injured. One eyewitness said that when the ambulance took Gorbuntsov away they had to stop at the end of the street while ambulance personnel tried frantically to resuscitate him.
London’s Metropolitan Police said detectives were treating the attack as attempted murder, but no arrests had been made so far. A suspect was seen running away from the incident.
“The shooting is not thought to be gang related or linked to any other incidents,” police said in a statement.
The London Evening Standard newspaper said on its website that Gorbuntsov, who used to own banks in Russia and Moldova, had been shot by a man with a submachine gun in a suspected assassination.
He was understood to be under armed police guard in hospital, the paper reported.
Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from Moscow, said that Gorbunstov’s lawyer had spoken to a local daily newspaper, telling them he believed the case may be connected with an investigation of his client in the attempted murder of another banker in 2009.
“Now that case was closed in 2010 after two Chechnyans were charged, but it was reopened on March 2 and Gorbuntsov is again being investigated,” Stratford said.
“He recently gave testimony and his lawyer says he has implicated two of his former business partners.
“Then of course, is Gorbuntsov’s connection with Moldova, where he is being investigated over embezzlement and the alleged illegal takeover of a bank there. According to Moldovan prosecutors, they have strong evidence against him and have enlisted the help of Russian law enforcement authorities in Moscow for their investigation,” our correspondent added.
Stratford said that details surrounding the shooting were still very sketchy, but he added: “What the case may highlight again is that connection between Russian big business and organised crime”.