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Palaces, yachts, vineyards: Putin's wealth is managed by one network, like a corporation

Palaces, yachts and vineyards lent to Vladimir Putin by friends and oligarchs can now be linked to an informal network with more than $4,5 billion in assets, reports TheGuardian.

Photo: Shutterstock

The digital footprint appears to suggest that a number of vacation homes and other assets reportedly used by the Russian president, which are known to be owned or owned by individuals, companies and charities, are linked through a common domain name. email address -

A snapshot of the leaked email correspondence from last September also suggests that directors and administrators associated with some of the separate entities that own and operate these assets discussed day-to-day business issues as if they were part of a single entity.

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An expert on fighting corruption in Russia, who asked not to be named given the political situation in Moscow, said the findings raise questions about whether there was a level of "general control".

“LLC Invest is most of all like a cooperative, or an association in which its members can exchange benefits and property,” he suggested.

For nearly two decades, Putin has been accused of secretly amassing vast wealth through proxies, fueled by a series of leaks such as Pandora documents on the fortunes of those closest to him.

Businessman Sergei Kolesnikov claimed 10 years ago that he was behind a scheme that allowed a group of leading Russian oligarchs to pool billions of rubles into a sort of "investment fund" for Putin, then prime minister. minister. The claims were rejected and Kolesnikov fled Russia.

Last month, the UK government compared Putin's "luxury lifestyle" to official Russian documents listing "modest assets" including a small apartment in St. Petersburg, two 1950s Soviet-era cars, a trailer and a small garage.

According to OCCRP and Meduza, assets associated with organizations or corporate entities around them that appear to have used the e-domain include:

  • A $1 billion palace that Alexei Navalny claims was built for Putin's personal use in Gelendzhik on the Black Sea. Billionaire oligarch Arkady Rotenberg, who is under EU and US sanctions, has claimed ownership of the property. Corporate records held in the Spark database in Russia as of June indicate that the property is owned by Kompleks, whose parent company is Binom. Until July last year, the director of the Binom company, apparently, had registered the electronic domain is still listed in Spark, Russia's largest database of companies, as a contact person.
  • Hectares of vineyards around the Gelendzhik Palace. Navalny said wineries were Putin's "hobby" that got out of control. The vineyards around the palace are owned by a non-profit organization founded by two of Putin's associates, Gennady Timchenko and Vladimir Kolbin, who are also under Western sanctions. Kolbin and others associated with the vineyards have email accounts.
    Ski resort "Igora" in the Leningrad region, where in 2013 the wedding of Putin's daughter took place. According to land documents, it belongs to Ozon, in which Putin's friend Yuri Kovalchuk is the chairman and largest shareholder of Bank Rossiya. It is under Western sanctions. The email account is the contact person in the Spark records of Ozon's parent company, Relax. Ozon is not affiliated with the Nasdaq-listed e-commerce giant of the same name.
  • A villa north of St. Petersburg, known to locals as "Putin's Dacha".
    Villa Sellgren was owned by Oleg Rudnov, Putin's childhood friend, and inherited by his son Sergei Rudnov through North. According to Spark records, Rudnov uses email addresses.
  • A wooden building north of St. Petersburg, known as the Fisherman's Hut. Emails leaked from the construction firm suggest that three different companies using the domain name owned different parcels of land around the complex, and a fourth entity, LLCInvest, a non-profit organization called Maritime Tradition Revival, was managing the construction. The same fund, recently hit by Western sanctions, owns two yachts, Shellest and Nega, that the US Treasury Department claims are linked to Putin.

LLCInvest's $4,5 billion assets include large cash deposits. Two non-profit foundations co-founded by Timchenko and Kolbin that use the domain name according to Spark's corporate records have significant funds at their disposal.

At the end of 2020, Development of Agricultural Initiatives had $305 million in its deposit account, while Development of an Efficient Investment Market had over $359 million in long-term deposits and almost $90 million in short-term deposits at the end of 2020, according to public reporting.

LLCinvest is not a standard public email provider like Yahoo, but a domain on a server owned by Moskomsvyaz, a telecommunications company with close ties to Bank Rossiya. St. Petersburg Bank is under Western sanctions and is described by the US Treasury Department as a "personal bank for high-ranking officials of the Russian Federation."

Rossiya has also been called "Putin's bank" for its role in allegedly carrying out the orders of the Russian leader. The Kremlin denies any such links or influence.

The discovery of the shared email domain was done by analyzing leaked metadata from Moskomsvyaz's servers, which appears to show the names of senders and recipients of emails, the subject and time of the correspondence. This has been cross-checked with open source records and a separate leak of the contents of some of the full messages.

Neither the purpose of the shared e-mail service nor the motivation for the apparent collaboration on personnel and logistical matters is clear.

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There is no assumption that all users. involved in the management of assets that were linked in the reports with Putin. Only one person, who uses the email account as a director of several companies, responded to the request. He declared ignorance of the nature of his work.

“I am a humble worker and mind my own business,” he said. “I just sign papers. You know how sometimes the homeless are registered as company directors. I'm not homeless, but I sign papers without going into details."

“If my company was part of a large holding, I would not know,” he added. The man's identity has not been released for his own safety.

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