An investigation by an international organization has identified a group of 86 companies linked to relatives of Vladimir Putin which would hold significant real estate assets in Russia worth several billion euros.
Several tens of billions of dollars or even up to 200 billion according to the financier Bill Broder. Vladimir Putin’s fortune has fueled many fantasies since the Kremlin strongman came to power.
“The first 10 years of Putin’s rule were all about looting as much money as he could,” the director of hedge fund Hermitage Capital Management, once the largest foreign investor in Russia, said in 2015 on CNN. And some people, myself included, think he is the richest man in the world, or one of the richest in the world, with hundreds of billions of dollars of fortune stolen from Russia.”
An estimate that he maintained on April 12 in a column for Time Magazine by trying to list his assets while acknowledging that he could not be sure.
“Putin needed others to hold his money so that no paper trail would come back to him, writes Bill Broder. For that, he needed people he could trust. In any mafia organization, these people are birds rare. There is no commodity more valuable than trust.”
If the estimate of 200 billion dollars seems very high, leaked documents however lift part of the veil on the very opaque heritage of the Russian president. In 2016, the Guardian estimated at least $2 billion in assets that could be linked to the Kremlin boss in the Panama Papers affair.
A palace of more than 17,000 m²
This week a new survey conducted this time by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and the Meduza news site points to a group of 86 businesses and nonprofits that it links to Vladimir Putin. These organizations, which hold a common private messaging domain in LLCInvest.ru, manage assets estimated at 4.5 billion dollars (4.3 billion euros).
Many relatives of the Russian head of state would use this email domain, which would link Vladimir Putin to these assets.
“For example, Rudnov, the son of Putin’s old friend, is the owner of a company called Volna that uses the domain LLCInvest.ru, the survey authors write. Leaked emails show the co-founder of ‘a completely different LLCInvest company discussing Volna’s finances with another man using an LLCInvest.ru address. Neither of them has a public connection to Volna.’
The company holding this domain name is also closely linked to Bank Rossiya, described by the US Treasury as “the personal bank of senior officials of the Russian Federation”.
Vladimir Putin is never directly linked to the organizations that manage these assets. It is each time friends, family members, sports partner of the Head of State who are connected to this messaging.
What assets are we talking about? Yachts, vineyards, palaces or luxury houses that the media link to the Russian president or his entourage.
Starting with the sumptuous Palace of the Black Sea. Covering an area of 17,700 m², this incredible castle worth 1.2 billion euros was built for Putin’s personal use in Gelendzhik on the Black Sea, according to Alexei Navalny, a lawyer and Russian anti-terrorism activist. Cheese fries.
It is the billionaire oligarch Arkadi Rotenberg, who is the subject of European and American sanctions and former judo partner of Vladimir Putin who claims ownership. According to the new revelations, the owner is believed to be a real estate company called Kompleks whose parent company Binom has an email domain LLCInvest.ru.
“The Fisherman’s Hut”
“The surrounding vineyards are shared between two other associates of Putin: the son of one of his childhood friends and a well-known oligarch, Gennady Timchenko, specify the authors of the investigation. The villa north of Saint Petersburg belongs to Sergei Rudnov, the son of another old friend who died in 2015.”
Located in the north of the country on the Gulf of Finland, the Sellgren villa in question is known by locals as “Putin’s Dacha”. It therefore officially belongs to the son of a childhood friend who also has an address in his name with the same domain name.
Also north of Saint Petersburg, is the ski resort of Igora in Leningrad Oblast where the wedding of Vladimir Putin’s daughter was celebrated in 2013. This resort is owned by an Ozon land company in which Yuri Kovalchuk said the “Putin’s banker” as chairman and main shareholder of Bank Rossiya would be majority shareholder.
Always near the Finnish border, it is the dacha known as “La Cabane du Pêcheur” which is linked to the Russian head of state. Located on the shores of Lake Ladoga, this ultra-modern wooden construction is said to be owned with its 420 hectares of surrounding countryside by a land company called Prime, itself owned by a non-profit company which is believed to be owned by Yuri Kovalchuk ” the banker”. These companies always use the domain name already mentioned.
The corporate networks also own several luxury yachts (four are cited in the survey), the largest of which is the Shellest, a 46-meter-long ship worth $23 million. According to ship tracking site MarineTraffic, the Shellest often travels between Gelendzhik, where the “Black Sea Palace” is located, and the port of Sochi. He belongs to a non-profit organization called Revival of Marine Traditions and has been identified by the US Treasury as being linked to Putin.
“It’s not just yachts and vacation homes, the investigation concludes. The latest records available show that LLCInvest entities hold more than half a billion dollars in cash in their accounts.”
Asked about these possessions by the British press, a Kremlin spokesman said that “the President of the Russian Federation is in no way connected or affiliated with the assets and organizations you mentioned.”