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OCCRP investigation reveals how Russian oligarchs avoid sanctions

by Martin Fornusek June 20, 2023 3:04 PM 2 min read
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with billionaire and businessman Arkady Rotenberg (R) as his brother, Boris Rotenberg (C) looks on during the awarding ceremony at the 2017 Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, Russia, on April, 30, 2017. (Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)
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A series of investigations published on June 20 by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) reveals how two oligarchs from Vladimir Putin's inner circle, Boris and Arkady Rotenberg, avoid international sanctions.

A team of over 60 journalists led by the OCCRP and IStories investigated more than 50,000 leaked emails and documents, revealing how Putin's childhood friends slip through the cracks of Western sanctions.

"This unprecedented access reveals the complex strategies the Rotenbergs used to preserve their holdings — and pulls back the curtain on the Western lawyers, bankers, and corporate service providers without whom they would have been helpless," the OCCRP wrote.

"The rare glimpse provided by this project serves as a warning: All the sanctions in the world will accomplish little when there are willing enablers in every Western capital."

Businesses owned by the Rotenberg brothers helped Putin to execute large-scale projects like the Sochi Olympics and the bridge to the occupied Crimea.

Although they were sanctioned by the West in 2014, this did not prevent the two men from living lavish lifestyles, the OCCRP said.

Western countries have applied sanctions on Russian leadership following the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, and then again after the invasion of Ukraine in 2022. This included freezing foreign assets and seizing property.

The sanctioned individuals use third parties and intermediaries to escape these measures. In April 2023, Cyprus froze accounts of 13 people helping Russian oligarchs avoid sanctions.

The Kyiv Independent has been a member of the award-winning OCCRP since May 2023.

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