Another cooperative of Putin and his friends. Journalists from OCCRP and Meduza found a structure that combines assets worth about $4.5 billion

The journalists found more than 80 companies, united by the email domain, that own palaces, resorts, yachts, planes and bank accounts, including those associated with Russian President Vladimir Putin. This is stated in a joint investigation by Meduza and the Center for the Study of Corruption and Organized Crime (OCCRP).

These companies own assets worth at least $4.5 billion, including a palace in Gelendzhik. These are mansions, business-class planes, yachts - and just bank accounts with huge amounts of money. Meduza emphasizes that the LLC Invest scheme may not be limited to 86 companies, and the true scale of this structure remains unknown.

To help at least roughly estimate the scale of the wealth of Putin's entourage was helped by a leak of e-mail correspondence, in which many participants use mailboxes on the same domain.

The domain is owned by Moskomsvyaz, an IT company closely associated with Rossiya Bank. Journalists first drew attention to it after an investigation released in 2017 by the Sobesednik newspaper, which reported that the domain was used by a network of non-profit organizations founded by Putin's friends.

The source gave reporters the metadata of emails from email addresses, from which it became known that managers, owners and employees of apparently unrelated companies via email with the LLCInvest domain often communicated with each other as if they were colleagues.

Several companies are owned directly by Bank Rossiya, and dozens more are owned by board members or shareholders of the bank, including billionaire businessman Yuri Kovalchuk and Putin's alleged lover Svetlana Krivonogikh. Approximately 18 companies, at first glance, have nothing to do with the bank, but in fact belong to bank employees of not the highest level, the investigation says. Most of the others belong to Putin's friends and associates, such as Arkady Rotenberg and Gennady Timchenko.

Almost all the property that investigative journalism has ever linked to Putin, including the palace in Gelendzhik, belongs to companies from the LLCInvest network. In addition, there are several country houses allegedly used by Putin, and a house in a prestigious area near Moscow that once belonged to Putin's daughter Katerina Tikhonova and her husband.

The leaked emails revealed, among other things, that three different companies associated with LLCInvest own different plots of land around a complex in the Leningrad region known as "Putin's dacha". The construction was supervised by another non-profit organization associated with the domain, allegedly engaged in "the revival of maritime traditions."

In 2017, the TV channel Dozhd found out that Sellgren's villa in Karelia, known from the Soviet film about Sherlock Holmes, belongs to Sergei Rudnov, the son of Putin's old friend Oleg Rudnov, who died in 2015. Journalists from OCCRP and Meduza found out that Rudnov uses an LLCInvest email address, as does the director of Sever, through which he owns the villa. The leaked letters showed that Pavel Zaitsev, who has no external ties with the Sever company, took part in the management of the property, but he owns several other companies from the LLCInvest network.

Alexei Navalny published a video filmed over the Sellgren estate. The oppositionist reported that at the entrance to the fenced area of ​​the residence there is a sign to the recreation center of the Sibur company, whose shareholders are Putin's close friend Gennady Timchenko and the alleged president's son-in-law Kirill Shamalov. Navalny suggested that this was a way to hide the fact that Putin was using the villa.

Leaked emails obtained by OCCRP provide new evidence that his hypothesis was correct. It follows from the leak that in 2012 Sibur entered into a lease for the villa and paid about a million dollars a year for it, while the company could not even use these facilities. At the time, the facility was run by Nogata, a company owned by Nikolai Shamalov, a friend of Putin and father of Kirill Shamalov, who married the president's daughter in February 2013. The Important Stories publication previously found out that after the wedding, Shamalov bought a $380 million stake in Sibur for just $100 through an offshore company.

The journalists found several non-profit organizations using the LLCInvest domain and officially describing their tasks as "reviving maritime traditions", "development of agricultural initiatives" and "development of Russian aviation traditions". However, they spend only nominal amounts on their declared activities. Their financial records show that they spent the money mainly on their own administrative expenses. However, their assets are huge by the standards of non-profit organizations.

In particular, the Development of Agricultural Initiatives organization, co-founded by multibillionaire Gennady Timchenko and the son of Putin’s childhood friend Vladimir Kolbin, had 17 billion rubles ($222 million) in deposit accounts at the end of 2020. This is almost half of the annual budget of Kazan, one of the largest cities in Russia.

Another nonprofit founded by Timchenko and Kolbin, Development of an Efficient Investment Market, held more than 20 billion rubles ($262 million) in long-term deposits and almost 5 billion rubles ($65 million) in short-term deposits at the end of 2020.

An expert who studies corruption in Russia, in a conversation with journalists, compared the mechanism of operation of companies associated with LLCInvest with an analogue of "a cooperative or association whose members can exchange resources and property."

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