Oligarch Roman Abramovich has been exposed as a key figure in a secret $40m scheme linked to Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
The former Chelsea Football Club owner has been identified as one of the figures in a deal involving secret payments through Putin’s close allies — and a complex web of shell companies.
A bombshell investigation from the BBC has linked Abramovich to a $40m fortune that has a paper trail all the way back to the Russian supremo.
Abramovich has essentially been kicked out of the UK this year after his assets were seized in the as a result of Russia’s war with Ukraine.
Abramovich, whose net worth has plummeted after previously being valued to be worth nearly $19 billion before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, was ultimately forced to sell his prized Premier League team for a staggering $7.4 billion.
The 57-year-old has repeatedly denied close links to the Kremlin, but the BBC investigation has now found a clear connection between Putin and Abramovich.
According to the report, leaked documents from Cyprus can link Abramovich to a $40m deal with trusted Putin cronies referred to as “wallets”.
Documents show the 2010 deal involved the purchase of shares from a company for inflated prices, from a company ultimately owned by Abramovich, to a Russian advertising company, Video International, that belonged to Putin’s allies.
Vladimir Milov, a vocal opposition leader, said the valued price was “ridiculous”.
Two of the men identified as funnels in the scheme, as revealed through documents from Cyprus, are Sergei Roldugin and Alexander Plekhov, as first reported by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIC).
Roldugin is a long-term friend of Putin and is reported to have been the person who introduced the Russian boss to his previous wife Lyudmila Shkrebneva.
Plekhov is a biochemist-turned-businessman. Both figures have previously been referred to as “straw men” — secretly holding assets and money on Putin’s behalf.
Both have been sanctioned in the UK because of their close ties with the Kremlin.
Milov said Roldugin’s position as a Putin “wallet” was easy to see.
“Rodulgin clearly serves… as a cover-up for Putin’s personal beneficial ownership,” he said.
“This guy is absolutely clearly 100 per cent a nominal figure because he does not understand anything about business, finance, international transactions and so on.”
The BBC report has now given one of the most striking examples the world has seen surrounding Putin’s secret fortune.
According to the BBC, the President’s publicly declared salary in 2021 was just over $100,000.
However, it has previously been rumoured his net worth could be up to $200 billion — hidden away in a network of shell companies and the accounts of friends.
It is not the first time Roldulgin has been identified as an influential member of Putin’s inner circle and was named in the 2016 Panama Papers bombshell leaks. Rodugin and Plekhov were identified as being involved in a suspected money laundering scheme run through Bank Rossiya. The financial institution was in 2014 described by the US government as “the personal bank for senior officials of the Russian Federation”.
Originally published as Russian Oligarch Roman Abramovich busted in secret $40m ‘wallets’ scheme