Image caption The inquest will look at whether Alexander Perepilichnyy died of natural causes or was unlawfully killed

A Russian financier who was thought to be on a Moscow hit list had applied for 8m worth of life insurance simply months before he died, an inquest has heard.

Alexander Perepilichnyy, 44, collapsed and died while out jogging near his home within a gated community in Weybridge, Surrey, in November 2012.

Traces of poison discovered in his stomach after he had eaten his wife's home-made soup.

Insurers said there were “florid theories” about how he died.

The Old Bailey heard proof from Russ Whitworth, the underwriting director of lead insurer Legal and General.

He said Mr Perepilichnyy had constructed multiple life insurance applications between 17 June and 4 July 2012.

Mr Whitworth said had they been successful, the total amount due to be paid out would be 8.5 m.

Medical test results

The Russian was originally thought to have died of natural causes, but traces of a chemical that can be found in the poisonous plant Gelsemium elegans were later found in his stomach.

Mr Whitworth said over four years the firm's lawyers had advanced “florid theories”, including one that Mr Perepilichnyy could have been murdered when a poison veggie was slipped into his sorrel soup.

Mr Perepilichnyy, a commodity dealer and merchant, had been helping expert investment firm Hermitage Capital Management uncover a $230 m( 150 m) Russian money-laundering operation shortly before his death.

The inquest heard the Russian had appeared to receive threats and his name was on a “hit list” in Moscow.

After being granted a 2m cover from Legal and General, and already holding a policy with London Victoria, Mr Perepilichnyy had applied to AIG for three farther policies totalling 5m.

AIG compliance officer Philip Rosser said in a statement: “On 20 July 2012, an underwriter received the medical the outcome and decided to postpone the decision for three months and recommended Mr Perepilichnyy spoke to his doctor about the results.”

Tatiana Perepilichnaya, Mr Perepilichnyy's widow, had earlier told the inquest her husband had applied for the insurance policies to help secure a mortgage on a property worth 7.8 m.

The inquest continues.

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