A wealthy Russian banker was in a coma under armed guard in hospital tonight after being gunned down in a suspected assassination attempt.
German Gorbuntsov was shot several times as he entered his multimillion-pound executive apartment near Canary Wharf, east London.
Scotland Yard said it was “too early to speculate” on Russian reports that the attack could be a gangland hit linked to a murder attempt on another banker, Alexander Antonov, in Moscow.
The force’s Trident command – which investigates gang shootings – is understood to have liaised with overseas counterparts in the hunt for the gunman behind the attack on Tuesday evening.
Police said the suspect, who is white, 6ft and slim, and was wearing dark clothes, was seen running away from Westferry Road after Mr Gorbuntsov was shot.
Detectives said the shooting was not thought to be locally gang-related but a spokesman added: “This is sitting with Trident which investigates gang-related shootings. There is no reason it should rest with anyone else.”
Mr Gorbuntsov’s condition is described as critical but stable. The victim, in his 40s, previously owned banks in Russia and Moldova, according to Russian media.
Police would not confirm Russian reports that the attacker had used a sub-machine gun and officers declined to reveal where Mr Gorbuntsov is being treated.
A source said the victim was under armed guard and Trident officers are treating the incident as a gang-related crime after liaising with the force’s counter-terrorism command.
Mr Gorbuntsov was shot as he entered the block of flats in Byng Street, where serviced apartments fetch up to £200 a day in rental income. Homes in the area are the choice of City highflyers, with easy links to Canary Wharf, the O2 Arena and London City Airport.
Russia’s Kommersant newspaper quoted Mr Gorbuntsov’s lawyer, Vadim Vedenin, who said his client had submitted evidence to police investigating the attack on Mr Antonov in 2009.
Three Chechen men were convicted of attempted murder in the case and given long jail sentences in 2010.
The apparent attempted assassination will prompt comparisons with the murder of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko in London in November 2006.
British prosecutors have named fellow ex-KGB agent Andrei Lugovoy as the main suspect in his poisoning with radioactive polonium-210, but the Russian authorities have repeatedly refused to send him to face trial in the UK.
Mr Litvinenko’s widow, Marina, sent her thoughts to Mr Gorbuntsov’s family.
“This must obviously be a very difficult time,” she said. “I don’t think it is very easy to say what has happened at this stage – they will be hoping for some clarity very soon.”