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The ‘LLC Invest’ connection Meduza and OCCRP uncover ‘network’ of companies holding $4.5 billion in assets linked to Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin is undoubtedly a very rich man. Journalists and anti-corruption activists have linked him to a luxurious palace on the Black Sea, surrounding vineyards, the Igora Ski Resort, and Villa Sellgren north of St. Petersburg. But documents evidencing Putin’s ownership of these assets have proven impossible to find.
Indeed, after each major investigation, one of Putin’s old friends has stepped forward to claim the assets linked to the Russian president as their own. Putin’s billionaire buddy Arkady Rotenberg, for example, claimed to own the lavish residence on the Black Sea, whereas the villa north of St. Petersburg is owned by Sergey Rudnov, the son of Putin’s old friend Oleg Rudnov, who died in 2015.
However, all of these assets linked to Putin have at least one thing in common: they are formally registered to companies and nonprofits that are secretly connected by technical infrastructure under the email domain LLCInvest.ru.
Reporters from the Russian weekly newspaper Sobesednik first linked this email domain to a network of nonprofits founded by Putin’s friends back in 2017. Now, Meduza and OCCRP have found dozens of companies and nonprofits whose staff and owners also use email addresses on this mysterious domain. What’s more, these interconnected entities hold assets worth at least $4.5 billion in total.
LLCinvest.ru is hosted by Moskomsvyaz — an IT company closely linked to Bank Rossiya (also known as “Putin’s bank”). A large cache of Moskomsvyaz email metadata leaked to Meduza and OCCRP revealed that managers, owners, and employees of these seemingly unrelated companies regularly discussed common business using email addresses on this domain.
In total, Meduza and OCCRP managed to identify 86 companies and nonprofits that appear to be part of the LLCInvest network. Together, they hold at least $4.5 billion in assets, including mansions, business jets, yachts, and bank accounts containing huge sums of cash.
Many of these companies have the same corporate directors, registered addresses, and service providers. Some are owned by Bank Rossiya directly, while several dozen belong to the bank’s shareholders — such as Putin’s old friend and billionaire banker Yuri Kovalchuk, and Putin’s alleged mistress Svetlana Krivonogikh. Meduza and OCCRP were also able to trace at least 18 companies with no apparent connection to Bank Rossiya to lower-level bank employees.
“The only explanation I see is that these companies are united by a common management system,” said an expert on corruption in Russia who reviewed this investigation’s findings. The expert (who is not identified for safety reasons), also noted that many of the owners of LLCInvest entities became close to Putin when he was an official in the St. Petersburg mayor’s office in the 1990s. “[LLCInvest] looks most of all like a cooperative, or an association, in which its members can exchange benefits and property,” he said.
Meduza and OCCRP journalists emailed more than 100 LLCInvest email addresses. Dozens of these emails were opened, but we did not receive a single response.
Reporters also made attempts to reach representatives of LLCInvest companies by phone. Four hung up right away. The fifth, listed as the director of multiple LLCInvest companies, confirmed that he uses an email address on the domain that was assigned to him after he was hired. He also claimed not to know who owned the companies. “I sign the papers […] without going into the details,” he said.
Bank Rossiya did not respond to a request for comment. Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov offered a terse reply to detailed questions about LLCInvest: “The President of the Russian Federation is not linked or affiliated in any way with the assets and organizations you mentioned.”
You can read the full investigation in English here.
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