(Bloomberg) -- Former KGB agent Alexander Lebedev stepped down from the board of a UK newspaper business days after he was sanctioned by Canada, filings show.
On Sunday, Lebedev ended his directorship of Independent Print Ltd, according to a filing published Tuesday. The business provides “outsourced campaign and publishing services” to the Evening Standard newspaper and Independent news website, according to its latest available accounts. A newspaper for 30 years, the Independent went digital in 2016 and its primary trading company is now Independent Digital News and Media Ltd.
“Alexander Lebedev has no role, commercial or otherwise, in the running of either the Independent or the Evening Standard,” said a spokeswoman for the Independent and the Evening Standard by email.
Alexander Lebedev and his son Evgeny acquired the Independent in 2010 for £1 ($1.25), and bought London’s Evening Standard newspaper in 2009. According to filings, Alexander has never been a director of the Independent’s current main trading business, Independent Digital News and Media. He stepped down from the Evening Standard Ltd and Lebedev Holdings Ltd boards in November 2016, both majority-owned by Evgeny.
But the move underscores a tightening focus on the family which has become politically awkward for Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Johnson appointed Evgeny to the UK’s upper chamber as a Lord in 2020. Since the invasion of Ukraine by Russian President Vladimir Putin, that appointment has come under fierce scrutiny, though Lebedev has criticized the invasion and said he’s not an agent of Russia.
Independent Print Ltd is 100% owned by Evgeny Lebedev and incurred a loss of £2.8 million in 2020, according to accounts.
“Independent Print Ltd published The Independent in print format until its closure in 2016,” said a spokesperson for Evgeny Lebedev by email, who declined to comment on why Alexander stepped down. “The company has been retained since 2016 to deal with some of the long-term ongoing issues associated with the wind down of the printed newspaper.”
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