Who actually controls cash flow in Russia?
• A USD 150 million-worth car racetrack is being constructed in the vicinity of St. Petersburg.
• A person with a salary of USD 700 holds shares in Russia’s leading companies.
• Business tycoons from the Russian Forbes rating couldn’t explain the origin of their assets. Moreover, they find it difficult to recall the names of their own companies.
How are all these things linked to each other? The Russian Novaya Gazeta newspaper has found the link.
Mikhail Shelomov is 48. He holds a modest position at the ‘Sovcomflot’ company, with a salary no higher than USD 700. He is a man of timid manners, answering journalists’ phone calls himself. The only problem is that he can’t answer their questions – or doesn’t want to.
But the questions seem very simple.
How could a low-profile specialist turn out to be the owner of a company worth hundreds of millions in assets? The reports came about after one of the companies decided to invest around USD 70 million in the construction of a car racetrack in the vicinity of St. Petersburg.
Mikhail Shelomov just sighs and responds to the journalists’ questions in a roundabout way.
However, they don’t ask him the most important question: could his successes in business be attributed to his kinship with President Putin (he is a son of Putin’s cousin)? It’s a well-known fact, one the Kremlin doesn’t deny.
A boyhood friend
Another unexpected Russian billionaire is Sergey Roldugin, a cello player, who is also form St. Petersburg.
He owns an offshore company, with which nearly all major Russian companies (be it energy, construction or financial companies) willingly entered into multi-million-dollar deals and extremely profitable transactions.
The funds that Sergey Roldugin’s company operates with exceeds USD 2 billion.
After the aforesaid facts were exposed, the following explanation was offered: those offshore operations were necessary to provide funds to Sergey Roldugin’s Charity Foundation, which buys and provides instruments for young amateur musicians. (on a side note: the USD 2 billion sum exceeds the aggregate price of all Stradivarius violins available worldwide by approximately 20 times).
By a strange coincidence, Sergey Roldugin isn’t unknown to Putin either. They have been friends since adolescence, when one of them studied at the Leningrad Conservatoire, while another one was enrolled in the Law Faculty at the local university.
Boris Rotenberg and his elder brother Arkady, have a strong lead in Russia’s richest persons rating. The source of their wealth are multi-billion-dollar state contracts: the construction of football stadiums for the 2018 World Cup, the construction of a bridge to the Crimea, a supply of pipes to Gazprom etc.
The Rotenberg brothers used to attend judo classes in St. Petersburg in the 1970s-1980s. It was there that they met Vladimir Putin. Their career and business started to develop only after the latter became the RF (Russian Federation) leader.
Although President Putin is unwilling to disclose the details of his daughters’ lives, the journalists have managed to find out certain facts.
Putin’s eldest daughter, Maria, currently lives in the Netherlands together with her husband, the ex-member of the Board of Directors of the Russian gas monopoly – ‘Gazprom’.
Ekaterina, the youngest daughter, lives in Moscow. She owns a company that gets multi-million state contracts from leading Russian companies. She is married to Kirill Shamalov, a son of Vladimir Putin’s colleague in the KGB.
Kirill Shamalov’s name had been unknown to the business world until he married the President’s daughter. Following this event, as a result of extremely successful transactions with Russian state-run companies, he became the owner of a USD 1.4 billion fortune.
Vladimir Putin’s biography could easily be written based on the Russian Forbes rating. It presents all stages of his life path, be it school years, studentship, sports activities, service in the KGB and St. Petersburg Mayor’s Office. Many of his friends and relatives have become millionaires during his presidency.
Yet, the journalists doubt that those people really own their assets that are, at the very least, estimated to be a total of USD 40 billion. They are more likely to be proxies.
But who actually controls those funds? There is no definitive answer to this question so far. However, more facts have recently come to light, that prove that the answer is right in the offing.
For example, shortly after the publication of the Novaya Gazeta’s investigation, there came reports that instead of supporting young talents, musician Roldugin’s offshore company transferred around USD 1 million to the account of a company that was involved in the development of chemical weapons for the Syrian government.