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24 May, 2024
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Abramovich tied to Putin's 'wallets' in Cyprus scandal

Abramovich's secret $40M deal


The fallout from the "Cyprus Confidential" probe implicating Cyprus in dealings with Russian oligarchs continues to send shockwaves. Leaked documents obtained by the BBC expose a money trail connecting oligarch Roman Abramovich to individuals referred to as President Vladimir Putin's 'wallets.'

Despite facing sanctions from the UK and the EU, Abramovich previously denied any financial ties to the Russian leader. However, newly revealed evidence from Cyprus points to a clandestine $40 million deal in 2010, involving the transfer of shares from a lucrative Russian advertising company, Video International. The beneficiaries? Two close associates of Putin, including Sergei Roldugin, a longtime friend and the godfather of Putin's first daughter.

Sergei Roldugin, a renowned cellist and artistic director, has shared a deep bond with Putin since their youth in St. Petersburg. The BBC sheds light on their close relationship, dating back to the introduction of Putin's ex-wife, Lyudmila Skrebneva, by Roldugin. The intricate web of connections implicates another Putin confidant, industrialist Alexander Plekhov, described as Putin's "wallet."

Swiss prosecutors previously contested Plekhov and Roldugin's ownership of assets linked to the Video International deal. The lack of clarity on the true owners led to ongoing scrutiny, with Plekhov facing UK sanctions and Roldugin sanctioned by the UK, EU, and US as the "guardian of President Putin's offshore wealth."

The link to Cyprus deepens as the "Cyprus Confidential" leak exposes 3.6 million corporate records from offshore service providers, including the sanctioned MeritServus. This company, implicated in breaching sanctions for Russian clients, also collaborated with Abramovich's ventures in Cyprus. The oligarch's substantial fortune, exceeding $9 billion, spans investments in sports, arts, and real estate, making him a prominent figure among Russian oligarchs in the UK.

Despite persistent denials of ties to Putin, the revealed secret agreement with Roldugin and Plekhov suggests a substantial economic relationship between Abramovich and the Russian president. Tom Keatinge, director of the Centre for Economic Crime and Security Studies, remarks that this case provides additional evidence of the alleged link between Putin and Abramovich.

The complexity of Abramovich's involvement in the deal is highlighted by a convoluted network of companies in Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands. Leaked documents expose his ties to Finoto Holdings and Grosora Holdings, which collectively acquired a 25% stake in Video International in 2003. These shell companies facilitated Abramovich's hidden influence in the Russian advertising giant until 2010 when their stakes were sold at a seemingly undervalued price.

Vladimir Milov, former energy minister in Putin's first term, criticizes the meager payout Abramovich received for his stake in Video International, considering the company's dominance in the domestic TV advertising market. The intricate details of this secret deal, concealed behind layers of corporate complexity, raise questions about the extent of Abramovich's financial ties to Putin's inner circle and the broader implications for Russian oligarchs operating on the global stage.

Cyprus  |  money  |  deal  |  Russia

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