Oleksandr Onyshchenko
Ukrainian showjumping star and MP Oleksandr Onyshchenko is wanted in Kiev on charges of embezzlement. He is said to be in London Wikimedia Commons

A Ukrainian MP who is also an Olympic-level showjumper says his life is in danger and has fled to the UK as he faces allegations in his country of embezzling £90m. Oleksandr Onyshchenko, 47, was due to appear in Rio de Janeiro in the showjumping event for his country's team, having competed in the London and Beijing Olympics in 2012 and 2008.

But in June, Ukraine's anti-corruption bureau (NABU) accused Onyshchenko of being behind a scheme to steal money through contracts with the country's largest gas company, UkrGasVydobuvannya, causing losses to the state of around 3bn hrvna (£90m), claims he denies.

In July, Interfax reported that he was in London, applying for a residence permit and asking for political asylum from the British authorities.

He amassed a fortune in the energy and fuel industry and was a member of Ukrainian parliament when former President Viktor Yanukovych was in office.

The immunity he had from prosecution as an MP was stripped by the country's parliament, the Rada, in July.

The UA Position website reported his claims he was not avoiding meeting with Ukrainian prosecutors but would only meet them in the British capital.

After being placed on a wanted list, Ukraine's Prosecutor General Yuri Lutsenko said Onyshchenko was more likely to be extradited from Britain than from Russia where he had fled initially as the UK had a "high legal culture".

In an exchange of messages with The Times, Onyshchenko, 47, said he came to London because he believed that his life was in danger.

"In Ukraine the president (Petro Poroshenko) organises everything to kill me, that's why I came to London. I came to London because I feel safe here and I can prove everything in a European court", he told the newspaper.