The Pandora Papers uncover 3,700 offshore companies linked to Russian oligarchs, bankers and politicians

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, in which laSexta and El País participate exclusively for Spain, uncovered information on more than 800 Russian citizens linked to offshore companies. The Pandora Papers have already uncovered more than 800,000 offshore companies linked to people and companies from over 200 countries, revealing 740,000 names linked to offshore companies. Among the new Russian firms, there are Putin’s former telecommunications ministera prominent regional political leader, an imprisoned cryptocurrency expert, and various oligarchs.

The survey conducted by laSexta with the other 100 media linked to the ICIJ, called “Pandora Papers Russia”, revealed that bankers, oligarchs and other members of Putin’s circle they hid large fortunes in tax havens with the help of Western intermediaries, evading the sanctions the West has imposed on Russia since the start of the invasion of Ukraine.

The first Russian oligarch to escape sanctions is Alexei Mordashov, a steel tycoon whose fortune is estimated at $29 billion. It has 65 opaque companies in the British Virgin Islands. Mordashov is the most obvious case of seeking schemes to circumvent sanctions. This Russian oligarch owned a third of the shares of the German tourism company TUI but, in February, when the sanctions began, he got rid of them to sell them to the company Ondero, a company from the British Virgin Islands, controlled by tour in turn by Ranel Assets.

Suleiman Kerimov, a man from Putin’s inner circle, is also listed in the documents. His fortune is around 10,000 million dollars. Sergei’s name Chemezov, a former partner of Putin in the KGB, is also on the list. As revealed by the Russian Pandora Papers, this oligarch used his wife and daughter-in-law, who were linked to nine offshore companies that managed assets of 350 million dollars, including the luxurious 85-meter yacht immobilized in the port of Barcelona.

Another of the more notorious names is prominent Russian businessman Roman Avdeev, an Alpha Consulting client who began selling radio parts and television decoders in the late 1980s. of the Soviet Union, in late 1991, Avdeev bought the Moscow Credit Bank, one of the country’s major financial institutions, which has been under US sanctions since last February. He owns a chain of pharmacies and has interests in the construction sectors, the wood and oil industry. He also bought Moscow football team Torpedo in 2017. Forbes magazine estimates his fortune at $1.3 billion.

Also in the documents is Leonid Reiman, a graduate of the St. Petersburg Public University of Telecommunications who worked as an engineer and later rose through the ranks of the St. Petersburg public telephone company. In 1999 he was appointed Minister of Information and Communications of the Russian Federation, then Minister of Communication and Information Technology, then Advisor to the President. In 2006, a Swiss arbitration panel found that Reiman was using an investment fund as a front to control interests in the Russian telecommunications industry while was sector minister, facts that Reiman denied. Years later, he was investigated for allegedly running a money laundering scheme with employees of a German bank, but still denied any wrongdoing and was not sentenced.

There is also no shortage of directors of Russia’s big banks who have spent a decade shifting their money to offshore companies to avoid previous sanctions. In “Pandora Papers” there are eight leaders of the five most powerful banks in Russiaincluding the owner of Día supermarkets, Mijail Fridman.

The files also link offshore entities with Alexander Vinnik, a Russian computer scientist. He worked as a cryptocurrency trader on the BTC-e platform until US authorities arrested him in Greece in 2017. He was extradited to France, where he was sentenced to five years in prison for money laundering. His defense expressed concern that his client could be extradited to the United States after serving his prison sentence. Documents show that Alpha Consulting sent a report to the Seychelles financial authorities in 2018, informing them that it had learned of the criminal charges against Vinnik during a due diligence review.

Businessmen Mikail Gutseriev, founder of the Russian oil company RussNeft and former member of the Duma -the chamber of legislators-, and his brother Sait-Salam Gutseriev, also a former legislator, are linked to 84 offshore companies created by Alcogal and Dadlaw, the most used cabinets. Moreover, Russian politicians own the most offshore companies in the Pandora Papers.

Alpha Consulting data adds to what was already a mountain of information on the elites of Russia in the Offshore Leaks database. The database contains information on the two “Pandora Papers” service providers with the highest proportions of Russian end recipients: the Panamanian company Alemán, Cordero, Galindo & Lee (Alcogal) and the company Fidelity Corporate Services, based in the British Virgin Islands. Data from all three companies is now available in Offshore Leaks, where information extracted from five leaks is already included over 20 entities with ties to Russia.

In total, the “Pandora Papers” documented the links about 3,700 companies with more than 4,400 Russian citizens. Thus, the ICIJ argues that Russian citizens control approximately 14% of all businesses and the legal entities revealed in the leak.

Data from Alpha Consulting

Alpha Consulting was established in 2008 by Victoria Valkovskaya, a former Moscow translator who moved to the Seychelles, where she opened the office with her husband, Roy Delcy, a native of the island. As is common in the offshore industry, the company provides paper administrators, whose names appear on company documents to obscure the identity of the true owners of the structures. In 2019, the company reported that 75% of its customers were Russian. Now, Documents from Alpha Consulting show Avdeev’s offshore companies registered in the Seychelles, British Virgin Islands and Belize. One of them, Hi Capital Corp, appears as a personal savings company.

Around 40% of over 2,000 offshore corporations, foundations and trusts detected in leaked Alpha Consulting files declare one or more Russian citizens as final beneficiary. Another 23% have Ukrainian citizens among their beneficiaries. The new data also connects offshore companies to other businesses and characters in over 100 other countries and jurisdictions.

Prominent clients of Alpha Consulting, one of 14 offshore service providers whose files were leaked to the ICIJ, include Isabel Dos Santos, Africa’s richest woman; General Martin Rushmaya, Advisor to the President of Zimbabwe; and Davit Galstyan, owner of an Armenian arms company investigated by Armenian authorities for smuggling ammunition to the United Arab Emirates and then to Liberia, despite an embargo.

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