Ukraine's richest man Rinat Akhmetov allegedly borrowed $400 million from Russia's largest bank, Sberbank, the International Consortium of Investigate Journalists (ICIJ) said on Nov. 14, citing information obtained from leaked documents dubbed "Cyprus Confidential."
The documents are part of a massive leak of millions of files obtained from Cypriot financial service providers.
Together, they comprise a complex picture of "how Cypriot financial enablers scrambled to help Russian oligarchs and Putin allies shield their assets and avoid Western sanctions," the ICIJ wrote.
In an investigation based on the leaked documents, the ICIJ alleged that Akhmetov transferred liability for a $400 million loan from Sberbank to a Cyprus-based subsidiary through his ownership of the Ukrainian energy giant DTEK. The loans were allegedly provided by Sberbank before 2014, when Russia invaded Ukraine.
In addition, DTEK also transferred ownership of several Russian coal mines to the Cyprus-based subsidiary in 2017.
Elsewhere in the investigation, the ICIJ said that Akhmetov allegedly purchased a luxury penthouse in London in 2021 for 87.5 million pounds ($107 million) through a shell company based in the British Virgin Islands.
In response to the investigation, Akhmetov issued a statement to ICIJ saying that the loans provided by Sberbank and others before Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 were "standard practice for Ukrainian borrowers."
Transferring the ownership of the Russian coal mines to the Cypriot subsidiary was a way of "limiting [DTEK's] exposure to the claims of Sberbank as creditor and paved the way to exiting DTEK’s investment in the Rostov Coal Mines."
The statement did not comment on the purchase of the London apartment.
Akhmetov lost more than half of his assets as a result of the full-scale invasion, with many of his industrial holdings, such as the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, destroyed or damaged during the fighting.
According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, as of Oct. 31, Akhmetov’s net worth fell by 52% to $5.39 billion compared to the pre-war numbers. He now ranks 412th among the richest people globally, 278 positions lower than at the beginning of the year. He is the only Ukrainian on the list.
In June 2022, Akhmetov filed a lawsuit at the European Court of Human Rights against Russia for gross violations of his property rights. Akhmetov asked for "billions of dollars" to compensate for the blockade, looting, destruction, and theft of his grain and metal from Ukraine to Russia.