“We’re spinning like we’re on pitchforks.” How Putin’s friends – the Rotenberg brothers hid their assets after the introduction of sanctions

Close friends of President Vladimir Putin – businessmen Arkady and Boris Rotenberg – after the introduction of sanctions were able to hide their assets worth billions through restructuring, change of formal owners and other schemes, according to the “Important Stories” investigation.

Journalists investigated the leak of more than 50,000 letters and documents from the management company Evocorp, which worked for the Rotenbergs, and shared this data with colleagues from 17 world media.

The Rotenberg brothers were punished after the annexation of Crimea in 2014 as one of the most influential and close to Putin Russian oligarchs who earned billions of dollars on state contracts. Therefore, they began to look for a person who would provide them with cover and help circumvent the restrictions.

The “front” of the Rotenbergs was Maxim Viktorov, a former KGB officer, former adviser to the Minister of Defense Anatoly Serdyukov and business partner of the British Prince Michael of Kent. After entering the business, the brothers’ shares in various companies were transferred to closed-end investment funds (ZPIF). Such structures they do not disclose information about their shareholders. ZPIF cannot declare bankruptcy, nor can their assets be confiscated, arrested or auctioned off.

He managed all 13 funds the company Evocorp, which belonged to Wiktorow. As it turned out with minutes of the meeting at the Central Bank of Russia in July 2017The Rotenbergs were shareholders of most of these ZPIF. This was evidenced by the revealed correspondence the former bodyguard of Boris Rotenberg, Alexander Kozlov, and the 36-year-old cosmetologist from Latvia, Maria Borodunova, received ownership of a number of valuable assets of the brothers – sources call her the secret mistress of Arkady Rotenberg. The brothers gave villas, apartments and businesses to their wives of European and American citizenship.

Evocorp tried to strictly ensure that information about the real owners of the assets allegedly sold by Putin’s friends did not leak anywhere. If regulators in offshore jurisdictions had questions, Viktorov and his associates came to the rescue – for example, the Panamanian firm ILS Legal Services S.A.

Thus, ILS helped to hide from the authorities of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) the beneficial owners of at least 18 companies owned by the Rotenbergs or their representatives. BVI regulators have demanded that corporate service providers stop doing business with sanctioned companies.

The ILS proposed a solution: first replace the Rotenbergs with trustees who will sign trust deeds to make it appear as if they were the ultimate owners of the companies, then give the authorities their names. “We are already rolling like pitchforks,” an ILS representative wrote to the former head of SMP Bank Rotenbergov, Elena Ruzyak, who acted as an intermediary with the oligarchs after they were sanctioned.

Viktorov helped the Rotenbergs not only to keep their possessions, but also to buy new ones. So they managed to buy a villa for 9 million euros in the elite Spanish resort of Oliva Nova Beach and Golf Resort near Valencia. To hide the real owners, who were Borys Rotenberg and his wife, US citizen Karina, the transaction was carried out by a specially created Maltese company, and the developer was paid with a loan from a Cypriot company.

For flights to Valencia, Viktorov bought the couple a $42 million business jet through offshore companies to replace sanctioned private jets. The Rotenbergs also invested in a house in the Austrian Alps, where Putin’s daughter Maria Vorontsova and her ex-husband Jorrit Faassen spent their holidays.

In addition, Viktorov tried to help Boris Rotenberg avoid fines for non-payment of duties on the 42-meter yacht Rachel worth 21 million euros in France. He claimed that the oligarch had no assets in Europe, but the court sided with the tax office. Only after paying 3.6 million euros did the French authorities give their consent start arrest from the yacht.

In addition, Viktorov helped to place “necessary” publications about Boris to avoid EU restrictions to which his brother Arkady was already subject.

Important Stories notes that Maxim Viktorov has great connections in the West and in his work for the Rotenbergs he often turned to his foreign colleagues for help and services. In 2018, the Wiktorowa Investment Program Fund he became shareholder of the British fintech startup RemitRadar – its ambassador was Prince Michael of Kent.

Immediately after the invasion of Ukraine, a member of the British royal family publicly broke off relations with Russia: left the position of patron of the Russian-British Chamber of Commerce i rejected from the Order of Friendship, awarded to him in 2009, but he decided to maintain a joint business with Viktorov – staunch supporter of war.

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