More than $17bn (£13bn) in global assets – including offshore bank accounts, yachts, private jets and luxury properties in London, Tuscany and the French Riviera – have been linked to 35 Russian oligarchs and officials believed to have close ties to Vladimir Putin.
Today the Guardian, in partnership with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and other international news agencies, unveils initial research from an ongoing project to track the wealth of Russia’s most powerful operators.
Russia’s asset-tracking project will begin by focusing on a list of 35 men and women named as Putin’s alleged enablers by imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny last year. It will register assets outside of Russia where the reporting partners have seen evidence linking them to those people.
Navalny’s organization has written to Western governments asking that the names on its list be considered for sanctions and all but one have since been blacklisted by the US, EU, UK United or Canada.
The names include four of the wealthiest oligarchs, as well as heads of state-controlled businesses, top broadcasters, heads of spy agencies, ministers, political advisers and regional governors. They were read in the US Congress by lawmakers calling for tougher sentences for the Russian elite and in the UK Parliament by Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokeswoman Layla Moran.
Moran told the Commons: “Putin’s cronies must be subject to the harshest possible sanctions now, because it is through them that Putin and his entourage retain their wealth. If we sue his associates, we sue him. In fact, we are rather uniquely positioned to do so, as they choose London. They live here: it’s ‘Londongrad’ for them.
The Russian asset tracker has identified properties or land in the UK – collectively worth more than half a billion dollars – which are linked by companies, trusts or relatives to four senior figures of Navalny’s list: Roman Abramovich, Alisher Usmanov, Oleg Deripaska and Igor Shuvalov. The Guardian will report on these findings in the coming days.
The search so far has seen evidence, most dating from 2020 to the present day, that the names are linked to more than 145 assets consisting of 35 mansions, 43 apartments and 27 other properties. Seven yachts, along with 11 private jets and helicopters, worth a combined $2 billion, have been identified as linked to just six people.
Some of the tracker’s assets are in the public domain – including Deripaska’s Belgrave Square mansion in central London, which was taken over by squatters last week, and the oligarch-linked superyachts Dilbar, Lena and Amore Vero Usmanov, Gennady Timchenko and Igor Sechin respectively.
Other possessions went largely unnoticed, or sometimes existed in near total secrecy. Last month, the US Treasury highlighted opaque ownership issues, saying: “Sanctioned oligarchs and powerful Russian elites have used family members to move assets and hide their immense wealth.
Outside the UK, the Russian asset tracker discovered:
Twenty-six assets apparently linked to Deripaska, who would be Putin’s favorite industrialist. They include billions of dollars in stocks, a hotel in the Austrian Alps, a superyacht, a 60-meter support vessel with helipad and luxury properties in London, Paris, Washington DC and New York, and four villas in Sardinia.
Two private jets — a $65 million Gulfstream G650 and a Bombardier Global Express — linked to Shuvalov, Russia’s former first deputy prime minister and now chairman of the state development corporation. Shuvalov is also linked to three luxury properties collectively worth around $35 million located in Salzkammergut, Austria, Tuscany in Italy and Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Real estate holdings linked to the families of Nikolay Tokarev, the chairman of state-controlled gas pipeline company Transneft, as well as presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov. The Tokarev companies appear to own luxury properties on the Croatian island of Lošinj, a known hotspot for wealthy Russians, while the Peskov company is connected to an expensive Paris apartment.
Many of the lesser-known assets are held by front companies based in secret offshore jurisdictions and trust funds, making them harder to track. Others are owned by relatives or associates of those on the Navalny list, raising questions about the source of the funds used to acquire these assets.
They were verified using evidence from publicly available sources, data from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ offshore leak databases, FinCEN files of suspicious banking transaction reports and intelligence sources. humans.
The tracker serves as a snapshot in time and only includes assets where reporters have seen documentary evidence or other reliable information linking them to the Navalny 35. Some possessions widely linked to certain oligarchs have not yet been confirmed.
Abramovich, Tokarev, Peskov and Shuvalov have yet to respond to requests for comment.
A Deripaska spokesperson said, “It is unclear how the publication of this type of ‘asset inventory’ could serve the public interest. Unless, of course, by ‘public interest’ you mean encouraging squatters to occupy private property, as they did with a London house owned by Mr Deripaska’s relatives.
“All property and assets he owns were acquired by fair means. The current media frenzy, regrettable as it is, certainly does not give anyone the right to call Mr. Deripaska a kleptocrat. The Russian Witch Hunt of which Mr. Deripaska became a victim is entirely politically motivated.
A spokesperson for Usmanov added: “Mr. business. Therefore, calling the source of his money “non-transparent” is inherently incorrect and damages Mr. Usmanov’s reputation as an honest entrepreneur and philanthropist. »