German billionaire who disappeared on the Matterhorn in 2018 was 'caught with ''female Russian spy'' in Moscow using facial recognition tech' and has links to tycoon dubbed 'Scarface' who sold Montecito mansion to Harry and Meghan

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A German billionaire who vanished amid a solo ski tour on Switzerland's Matterhorn six years ago is believed to have been caught by facial recognition software in Moscow - and is allegedly living there with a Russian woman thought to be a spy.

German-American retail tycoon Karl-Erivan Haub, then 58, was last seen heading up the mountain at a cable car station one morning in April 2018, but never returned to his hotel. 

Authorities launched a six-day search which saw five helicopters and teams of alpine rescuers canvas the area, but his body was never found.

Haub - the former managing director and part owner of German supermarket and retail giant Tengelmann Group - was declared dead by a Cologne court three years later, leaving behind a wife, two children and a company of some 75,000 employees.

But now an investigative journalist with German broadcaster RTL claims Haub has been identified with facial recognition cameras in Moscow, where he is believed to be living with Veronika Ermilova - a Russian woman 20 years his junior suspected of being a spy. 

Liv von Boetticher told German magazine Capital she saw the images in 2022.

'To my knowledge, these photos were obtained… by an Israeli-American company that searched the biometric surveillance system in Moscow for images of Karl-Erivan Haub,' she was quoted as saying.

An investigation by RTL and media outlet Stern also links Haub's suspicious disappearance to a Russian billionaire known as the 'Scarface Oligarch' - who happened to sell Prince Harry and Meghan Markle their mansion in Montecito, California, in 2020. 

German-American tycoon Karl-Erivan Haub, then 58, was training for a ski mountaineering race when he disappeared in April 2018

The billionaire businessman was seen heading up the mountain in a lift one morning alone - something his trainer said was strange for a man who was typically very safety conscious and well-prepared - and never returned to his hotel

Haub is alleged to have dialled the phone of mysterious Russian woman Veronika Ermilova - suspected of being a Russian agent - 13 times in the three days before he vanished

Sergey Grishin was reported to have died from a long illness in March, although no evidence of his funeral has ever emerged

An investigation by RTL and media outlet Stern also links Haub's suspicious disappearance to a Russian billionaire known as the 'Scarface Oligarch' - who happened to sell Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (pictured) their mansion in Montecito, California, in 2020.

Haub's younger brother Christian swore in a courtroom in May 2021 there was no indication the Alpinist, whose net worth was estimated at £5.2 billion, remained alive.

Christian, who assumed control of the Tengelmann Group, is now subject to an investigation by the Cologne prosecutor's office on suspicion of making false statements under oath, RTL reported. 

Boettinger alleged images of Haub in Moscow were obtained by investigators from a firm hired by Christian prior to his testimony. 

His lawyer, Mark Binz, told German newspaper Die Zeit: 'Of course there is nothing to the accusation.' 

Retail mogul Haub is alleged to have called Ermilova's phone 13 times in the three days before he vanished in 2018, according to the probe by RTL and media outlet Stern

The calls were substantial - one lasting more than an hour - leading to suspicions he was plotting to fake his death with help from Moscow and Ermilova. 

An investigation found that Ermilova, 44, ran an 'inconspicuous' event agency in St. Petersburg, which organised skiing, hiking and climbing excursions for outdoor enthusiasts - but she is also suspected of being involved with Russia's FSB security service. 

She is now listed on LinkedIn as a Marketing Director at Russian Event, which is styled as a travel experience company. 

An investigation by Tengelmann later revealed that Haub's life was closely intertwined with the enigmatic Ermilova, who is believed to be some twenty years Haub's junior and was described as 'a slim, athletic woman with shoulder-length brown hair, dark eyes, and open smile'.

Investigators suggested that she 'may work for the Russian domestic secret service FSB', although stressed this 'cannot be proven'.

'What can be proven, however, is that she is always in the same places at the same time as Karl-Erivan Haub,' said the report.

Haub called Ermilova 13 times before his disappearance, leading to suspicions he was plotting to fake his death with help from Moscow

Ermilova ran an 'inconspicuous' event agency in St Petersburg with hobbies like hiking, climbing and ski touring

German-American tycoon Karl-Erivan Haub was training for a ski mountaineering race when he disappeared in April 2018 in Zermatt, Switzerland

'In July 2008, both were in Moscow and Sochi within a few days... In May 2009, both travelled on the same night train from Moscow to St Petersburg, in separate compartments. The trips were booked at the same time and by the same person.

'Strange too: [Ermilova] came to Moscow the day before just to take the train back home.

'Further overlaps of short trips by Haub and [Ermilova] can be found for stays in Omsk (2010), Sochi (2011), Baku (2014) and Moscow (2015, 2017).'

The report states: 'It is not clear why these alleged meetings took place. It doesn't sound like a love vacation.'

RTL journalist Boetticher speculated that Haub's disappearance in Switzerland and alleged appearances in Russia may have come as the result of shady business dealings.

'Karl-Erivan Haub is known to have done business with questionable people in the Russian economy,' she claimed. 

'Our assumption is that business with Russia or with Russian business partners could have got Karl-Erivan in trouble in the West.'

As well as calling Ermilova, Haub is also understood to have dialled Russian banker Andrey Suzdaltsev in both Russia and Geneva shortly before he died, the RTL and Stern investigation claimed. 

Another of Haub's Russian business partners included notorious self-confessed fraudster Sergey Grishin - known as the 'Scarface Oligarch'.

Grishin made headlines in the UK and US after being selling his $14.7 million home in Montecito, California, to none other than Prince Harry and Meghan Markle in 2020. 

Haub was officially declared dead in 2021 with a net wealth of £5.2 billion - even though his body was missing

Veronika Ermilova is pictured at Pacman bar, St Petersburg, back in 2016

Haub is also understood to have dialled secretive Russian mogul Andrey Suzdaltsev shortly before he died

Notorious Russian banker Sergey Grishin is believed to have died in Moscow in March 2023

Another co-owner of RosEvroBank, the Russian oligarch had bought the property with a seven-acre site, pool, tennis court, guest quarters and stunning main house, in 2009.

His nickname Scarface derived from his ownership of another Californian mansion where the 1983 Al Pacino movie of the same name was filmed.

Grishin was reported to have died from a long illness last year, although no evidence of his funeral has ever emerged.

RTL journalist Boetticher also speculated in an interview with Die Welt that Haub may have actually been 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 and a trench coat or a James Bond, but about influence on politics and the economy.

'(His disappearance came) at a time when Tengelmann was doing pretty badly… and was expanding into Russia with the Obi DIY chain, for example.'

The journalist said: 'I am sure it was not a skiing accident, but a staged escape.'

The exact method used by Haub to conduct his alleged escape is not known. 

Some believe he skied through the Alps and descended into Italy, but there is no trace of his whereabouts after he set out on a solo ski tour in April 2018.

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