Is Putin the richest man in the world? How much is his fortune worth and where it is hidden

Elizabeth Smith

Last year, Western countries announced the freezing of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s assets, thus sanctioning his invasion of Ukraine. However, there is little news on the riches of the president of Russia, although many billions of dollars have passed through the accounts of his closest friends and the luxurious properties are linked to members of his family.

According to what was reconstructed by the New York Times, according to public income data, Putin earns 140 thousand dollars a year and owns a small apartment. The Kremlin tells of a Russian president with simple tastes, who loves the forests of Siberia and “has no need for luxury”, to quote Dmitri Kiselyov, host of Russian state TV.

All of Putin’s hidden assets

However, that doesn’t explain Putin’s famous “Palace”: a sprawling Black Sea estate that cost more than $1 billion in 2010 and includes a movie theater, hookah lounge and pole-dancing stage, according to a report drawn up last year by opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, currently in prison.

The palace does not belong directly to the Russian president. But it has been linked in various ways to his government.

Equally linked to him is “Putin’s yacht”: a $100 million luxury ship, called Graceful, which left Germany for Russia just before its invasion of Ukraine.

A $4.1 million apartment in Monaco, bought through an offshore company by a woman said to be Putin’s lover, can also be traced back to the Russian president. The news leaked last year thanks to the Pandora Papers. While Putin’s ex-wife owns a coastal villa in the south of France.

Is Putin the richest man in the world?

Given the opacity surrounding the Russian president’s wealth, it is only possible to provide estimates on his extent. Bill Browder, an American-born financier who was banned from Russia in 2005 after clashing with the oligarchs of Moscow, in 2017 estimated Putin’s wealth to the US Congress at around 200 billion dollars, making him the richest man in the world.

Anders Aslund, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and author of the 2019 book “Russia’s Crony Capitalism,” estimated the Russian president’s wealth at about $125 billion.

In his view, much of it may be hidden in a network of offshore havens held by Putin’s allies, friends and relatives. Among them, also Sergei Roldugin, his long-time friend and cellist. Who, according to the journalistic investigation of the Panama Papers, earns more than 8 million dollars a year.

Sanctions and hidden riches

The problem is that all assets not directly linked to Putin are immune to Western sanctions. The latter, from Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea onwards, have been aimed at oligarchs close to him.

Such as Kirill Shamalov, his former son-in-law and a major shareholder of a Russian petrochemical company, Boris Rotenberg, a construction magnate , and Gennady Timchenko, an investor said to be Russia’s sixth richest person.

But over the years the latter have refined the abilities of the oligarchs and Putin to hide the assets they own. To the point that their way of acting usually emerges publicly only with the loss of files from offshore law firms or secret banks that turn to those who want to hide their wealth.

Read also: Possible end of Putin’s regime in 2024? What is going on in Russia

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