Russian emails seem to turn ‘network’ preserving $4.5bn belongings connected to Putin | Russia

Palaces, yachts and vineyards reportedly equipped to Vladimir Putin by way of buddies and oligarchs can now be connected to what seems to be an off-the-cuff community preserving belongings value greater than $4.5bn (£3.7bn).

A virtual paper path seems to indicate that an array of vacation properties and different belongings reportedly utilized by the Russian president, which in keeping with to be had information belong to or were owned by way of separate people, firms and charities, are connected via a commonplace e-mail area title, LLCInvest.ru.

Putin diagram

A snapshot of leaked e-mail exchanges from final September additional suggests administrators and directors related to one of the vital separate entities that dangle and set up those belongings have mentioned daily industry issues as though they had been a part of a unmarried organisation.

An anti-corruption knowledgeable in Russia, who asked anonymity given the political scenario in Moscow, stated the findings raised questions as as to whether there used to be a degree of “common management”.

“LLCInvest looks most of all like a cooperative, or an association, in which its members can exchange benefits and property,” they steered.

For just about 20 years, Putin has been accused of secretly collecting huge wealth via proxies, fuelled by way of a sequence of disclosures in leaks such because the Pandora papers concerning the fortunes of the ones closest to him.

Sergey Kolesnikov, a businessman, claimed 10 years in the past that he have been in the back of a scheme that allowed a bunch of Russia’s most sensible oligarchs to pool billions of rubles into one of those “investment fund” for the advantage of Putin, who used to be then serving as top minister. The claims had been denied and Kolesnikov fled from Russia.

Last month the United Kingdom govt contrasted Putin’s “lavish lifestyle” with legitimate Russian information which indexed “modest assets” together with a small flat in St Petersburg, two Soviet-era vehicles from the Nineteen Fifties, a trailer and a small storage.

Alexei Navalny has claimed this £1bn palace used to be constructed for Putin’s non-public use in Gelendzhik at the Black Sea. Photograph: AP

After a year-long investigation, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the Russian-language information web page Meduza have known 86 firms and not-for-profit organisations whose representatives seem to make use of the typical LLCinvest area title, incessantly along company e-mail accounts.

Claims of a secret presidential fortune are denied and a series of possession resulting in Putin has now not been known. A Kremlin spokesperson stated: “The president of the Russian Federation is in no way connected or affiliated with the objects and organisations you named.”

Villa Sellgren
Villa Sellgren is owned by way of Sergey Rudnov, the son of a early life pal of Putin. Photograph: Navalny.com

According to OCCRP and Meduza, belongings connected to organisations or the company constructions round them wherein the LLCinvest.ru e-mail area seems to were in use, come with:

  • A £1bn palace which Alexei Navalny has claimed used to be constructed for Putin’s non-public use in Gelendzhik at the Black Sea. The billionaire oligarch Arkady Rotenberg, who’s underneath EU and US sanctions, has claimed possession of the valuables. Corporate information held by way of the Spark database in Russia said as of June that the valuables belongs to a company known as Kompleks whose father or mother corporate is Binom. The corporate director at Binom till July final yr seems to have a registered LLCInvest.ru e-mail area. The LLCinvest.ru deal with stays cited on Spark, Russia’s biggest corporate database, as a touch.

  • Acres of vineyards across the Gelendzhik palace. Navalny has claimed the wineries had been a Putin “hobby” that had were given out of keep an eye on. Vineyards surrounding the palace belong to a not-for-profit based by way of two Putin friends, Gennady Timchenko and Vladimir Kolbin, either one of whom also are underneath western sanctions. Kolbin and others related to the vineyards seem to have LLCInvest.ru e-mail accounts.

  • The Igora ski hotel within the Leningrad oblast the place the marriage of Putin’s daughter came about in 2013. According to land information, it’s owned by way of Ozon, an organization wherein Putin’s pal, Bank Rossiya’s chairman and biggest shareholder Yuri Kovalchuk, who’s underneath western sanctions, has had a big stake. The LLCInvest.ru e-mail account is a touch at the Spark information of Ozon’s father or mother corporate, Relax. Ozon isn’t similar in any solution to the Nasdaq indexed e-commerce massive of the similar title.

  • A villa north of St Petersburg, identified by way of locals as “Putin’s Dacha”. The Villa Sellgren used to be owned by way of Oleg Rudnov, a early life pal of Putin’s, and inherited by way of his son Sergey Rudnov, via an organization known as North. Rudnov seems to make use of LLCinvest.ru e-mail addresses, in keeping with the Spark information.

  • A wood-clad development north of St Petersburg referred to as the Fisherman’s Hut. Emails leaked from a building company recommend that 3 other firms the use of the area title owned other parcels of land across the advanced, whilst a fourth LLCInvest entity – a nonprofit organisation named Revival of Maritime Traditions – controlled the development. That identical basis, just lately positioned underneath western sanctions, owns two yachts, Shellest and Nega, stated by way of the United States Treasury to be connected to Putin.

Russia belongings map

The $4.5bn in belongings held by way of LLCInvest entities comprises massive money deposits. Two not-for-profit foundations, co-founded by way of Timchenko and Kolbin, which in keeping with Spark company information seem to make use of the area title, have important budget at their disposal.

The Development of Agrarian Initiatives had 17bn rubles (£248m) in its deposit account on the finish of 2020 whilst the Development of an Effective Investment Market held greater than 20bn rubles (£292m) in long-term deposits and virtually 5bn rubles (£73m) in temporary deposits on the finish of 2020, in keeping with publicly to be had accounts.

Shellest Yacht
The yacht Shellest is owned by way of the nonprofit organisation Revival of Maritime Traditions.

LLCinvest isn’t a regular e-mail supplier open to the general public similar to Yahoo however a site on a server owned by way of Moskomsvyaz, a telecoms corporate which has shut hyperlinks to Bank Rossiya. The St Petersburg financial institution is underneath western sanctions and described by way of the United States Treasury as “the personal bank for senior officials of the Russian Federation”.

Rossiya has additionally been described as ‘Putin’s financial institution’ for its function in allegedly wearing out the Russian chief’s bidding. The Kremlin has denied the sort of hyperlinks or affect.

The discovery of the typical e-mail area used to be made via research of leaked metadata from Moskomsvyaz servers, which seems to turn the names of senders and recipients of LLCinvest.ru emails, the subject material and time of correspondence. This used to be go checked with open supply information and a separate leak of the content material of a few complete messages.

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Moskomsvyaz and all however one of the most people who seem to have used LLCInvest.ru e-mail addresses, didn’t respond to requests for remark. It is unclear as to the aim of the typical e-mail carrier, or the inducement for the plain cooperation on staffing and logistical problems.

There isn’t any recommendation that the entire customers of the LLCInvest.ru are considering managing belongings which have been connected in studies to Putin. Only one guy who makes use of a LLCinvest.ru e-mail account in his function as a director of more than one firms, spoke at the telephone when known as. He claimed lack of understanding of the character of his paintings.

“I’m a humble employee and mind my own business,” he stated when puzzled. “I only sign papers. You know how sometimes homeless people are registered as directors of a company. I’m not homeless but I sign the papers like they do without going into the details.”

“If my company was part of a big holding, I wouldn’t know,” he added. The guy’s identification is being withheld for his personal protection.

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