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All in the family New investigation reveals Russian billionaire’s dealings during his marriage to Putin’s daughter

Source: IStories
Dmitry Dukhanin / Kommersant

The investigative outlet IStories has published a new report on the business dealings of Russia’s youngest billionaire, Kirill Shamalov — the ex-husband of Katerina Tikhonova, a woman widely believed to be Russian President Vladimir Putin’s daughter. Based on thousands of leaked emails, the investigation reveals that after he married Tikhonova, Shamalov acquired hundreds of millions of dollars in shares in Russia’s largest petrochemical company for just $100. The couple also spent millions on luxury property ahead of their wedding.

Thanks to an archive leaked by an anonymous source, the investigative outlet IStories gained access to more than 10,000 emails to and from Kirill Shamalov, a member of the board of directors of Sibur, Russia’s largest petrochemical company. Shamalov first acquired shares in the company shortly after marrying Vladimir Putin’s alleged daughter Katerina Tikhonova in 2013.

According to Shamalov’s leaked emails, the couple celebrated their wedding at the Igora ski resort in the Leningrad region from February 23–25, 2013. His emails include correspondence with the event organizers, invitations complete with a suggested dress code for guests, as well as photographs from the wedding itself.

The year before their wedding, the couple acquired luxury real estate in both Russia and France. The leaked archive includes emails about the construction of a house in the luxury village of Usovo, located in Moscow’s pricy Rublevka suburb. IStories estimates its total cost, including the property, the house, furniture, and equipment, at between 15–17 million euros (about $18.2–$20.6 million).

Documents contained in Shamalov’s email correspondence also indicate that in October 2012, he purchased a 4.5 million-euro ($5.5-million) house in Biarritz, France from Putin’s longtime friend, billionaire businessman Gennady Timchenko. 

The video of version of the investigation

Months after the wedding, in June 2013, Shamalov purchased a 3.8 percent stake in the petrochemical company Sibur for just $100 — a share which, according to Shamalov’s own estimates, would have been worth around $380 million.

In response to inquiries from IStories journalists, Sibur board chairman Dmitry Konov said they were using “incorrect figures” and that Shamalov didn’t enjoy any exclusive conditions for purchasing shares in the company. 

Then, on August 1, 2014, Shamalov purchased an additional 17 percent stake in Sibur from Gennady Timchenko using funds borrowed from Gazprombank, whose board of directors includes his brother, Yuri. Shamalov’s email correspondence also alluded to a scheme for redeeming these shares by “creating artificial debt” and transferring packages of shares as “repayment.” 

Bloomberg reported Shamalov and Tikhonova’s divorce in January 2018. Shamalov’s last email to Tikhonova contained in the archive is dated June 15, 2017. Shortly beforehand, in April 2017, Shamalov sold the shares in Sibur that he had purchased from Timchenko, which, according to Bloomberg’s sources, he initially received as a guarantee of Putin’s trust. 

Kirill Shamalov and Katerina Tikhonova didn’t to respond to questions from IStories. 

Asked about the IStories investigation during a press conference on Monday, December 7, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin knows who’s behind “such informational exercises” and attempts “to defame,” but refused to name the alleged organizers. “As a rule, all of this is fitting [together] — sometimes skillfully, sometimes not — various rumors, often having nothing to do with reality. And we treat this accordingly,” he said.  

In 2018, the United States added Kirill Shamalov to a sanctions list that included 24 Russian nationals, among them billionaires and high-ranking officials, as well as several Russian companies. The U.S. Treasury Department said that the list included people “who benefit from the Putin regime and play a key role in advancing Russia’s malign activities.” 

You can read the full investigation in English on the website of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.
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