A rich Russian businessman applied for £8.5m worth of life insurance policies just months before he collapsed and died while out jogging, an inquest has heard.
Alexander Perepilichnyy, 44, had helped to expose a multimillion-pound money laundering scam before his death, on 10 November 2012, near his home in Weybridge, Surrey.
The Old Bailey has heard that the married father-of-two emitted strange green-yellow bile as efforts were made to revive him with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
The inquest is looking into whether he was poisoned or died of natural causes.
On Thursday, John Begg QC, for the Russian’s widow, Tatiana Perepilichnaya, questioned the motives of lead insurer Legal & General, whose claims and underwriting director, Russ Whitworth, was giving evidence.
Begg said that over four years the firm’s lawyers had advanced “florid theories”, including one that Alexander Perepilichnyy could have been murdered when a poisonous vegetable was slipped into his sorrel soup.
“In one hearing (there was) a reference to security services, creating a kind of John le Carre scenario,” the barrister continued.
He asked: “Do you think it is a responsible thing to do?”
When the witness appeared to smile, Begg said: “It’s not actually so funny for the children of Mrs Perepilichnaya who have had to endure the media coverage.”
Whitworth said: “I do regret any upset to the family,” adding: “I think what I need to say here is I’m only the claims and underwriting director for Legal & General and not a spokesman for the company.”
He told the inquest that Perepilichnyy made multiple life insurance applications between 17 June and 4 July 2012.
He said had they all been successful the total amount would have been £8.5m.
The inquest heard that Legal & General granted a £2m policy, while Perepilichnyy held an existing policy with London Victoria.
Perepilichnyy applied to AIG for three further life insurance policies totalling £5m in June 2012, but the insurance firm asked for medical tests to be carried out.
Compliance officer Philip Rosser said in a statement: “On 20 July 2012, an underwriter received the medical results and decided to postpone the decision for three months and recommended Perepilichnyy speak to his doctor about the results.”
Peter Skelton QC, for the coroner, said Tatiana Perepilichnaya had earlier told the inquest she and her husband were keen to buy a very expensive property.
The inquest heard they had considered homes in the desirable areas of Chelsea in west London and St George’s Hill in Surrey, and had looked at a particular property worth £7.8m.
Perepilichnaya had said her husband applied for the insurance policies to help secure a mortgage, the inquest heard.
Before his death, Perepilichnyy was helping specialist investment firm Hermitage Capital Management uncover a $230m (£150m) Russian money-laundering operation, the inquest has heard.