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As Russian troops continue to invade Ukraine, a further five Russian oligarchs have been hit for the first time by sanctions.
That puts the number up to 16 Russian billionaires who have been sanctioned by the EU, US, UK, Switzerland, or Canada since the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014.
A more recent inclusion is Mikhail Fridman, whose 50% stakes in the London-based investment group LetterOne has been frozen.
His five-acre property in London, Athlone House, was also in the firing line, which happens to be right next door to another targeted Russian oligarch, Alisher Usmanov and his Beechwood House.
But for Usmanov, and the others, there’s often a lot more than just one property sitting frozen.
As it stands, Forbes has uncovered “at least 36 properties owned by 10 sanctioned Russian oligarchs, stretching from Connecticut to Sardinia”:
These “outrageous” Russian-owned mansions, estates, and villas have been calculated by Forbes to be worth more than $1,2 billion collectively.
But things are complicated for authorities trying to crack down on Putin’s mega-rich pals as it’s not always easy to pin the ownership down.
That’s because the mega-rich often put their properties in the names of family members or close associates, which means that although the freezes and travel bans may block them somewhat, they still don’t lose control of their far-flung homes.
Let’s take a look at some of the lavish properties owned by some of the richest Russian oligarchs sanctioned by the US, UK, and EU:
1. Alisher Usmanov
Besides Usmanov’s 19th-century Beechwood House in London owned via Hanley Limited, he also owns Sutton Place, a Tudor-era manor built-in 1525 on a 700-acre estate in Surrey:
According to British property records, that last one is owned through two offshore companies registered in Cyprus, Delesius Investments Limited and Bacerius Investments Limited.
On Friday, his villa in Arzachena (northern Sardinia) was frozen by Italian authorities.
2. Suleiman Kerimov
Kerimov has four villas in Cap d’Antibes on the French Riviera, which already courted controversy when they were embroiled in a tax scandal involving a Swiss company named Swiru Holding AG back in 2020.
French authorities fined Swiru $1.6 million for alleged tax evasion in the sale of one of the villas, named Hier, to Kerimov in 2008, for a declared amount of $51 million instead of the actual purchase price of nearly $190 million.
Located on so-called “Millionaires’ Bay,” the nearly 13,000-square-foot Hier also served as the backdrop for the 1988 film Dirty Rotten Scoundrels starring Michael Caine.
Kerimov’s legal counsel had his back, stating that he has not been “convicted by any court whatsoever, in France or abroad”. French courts dismissed prior allegations of money laundering made against him, too.
3. Pyotr Aven
Besides having 18 rooms, a gym, a saltwater pool, and an adjacent golf course, Aven’s Wentworth Estate in Surrey also has a two-storey octagonal guardhouse and a bombproof shelter to make it “KGB-proof”.
There is something quite alarming about the fact that even those close to Putin have bunkers to shield themselves from a potential nuclear explosion.
4. Mikhail Gutseriev
This former Soviet Union-era oil bureaucrat owns a home in the affluent Mayfair section in London.
5. Oleg Deripaska
The metal mogul’s US properties have all been purchased through Delaware-based Lucina International LLC: one in New York for $42,5 million, one in Manhattan for $4,5 million, and another in Washington DC (see above) for $15 million.
Despite having his assets frozen by the US Treasury Department in 2018, all three properties are still owned by the same entities.
You can read about the others here.
The screws might have been tightened on these Russian oligarchs, but it is nothing compared to the onslaught that Ukrainian citizens face amidst this Putin-led war.
It appears likely that the US and its allies in Europe are about to put the hammer down even harder, enforcing further sanctions, seizures, and forfeitures of assets held by Russian oligarchs.
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