Meet the 7 Russian oligarchs hit by new US sanctions

(Clockwise from top left) Oleg V. Deripaska, Vladimir L. Bogdanov and Suleiman A. Kerimov are among the list of Russian business tycoons the Trump administration announced new sanctions against.
(Clockwise from top left) Oleg V. Deripaska, Vladimir L. Bogdanov and Suleiman A. Kerimov are among the list of Russian business tycoons the Trump administration announced new sanctions against.PHOTOS: REUTERS

MOSCOW (NYTIMES) - The Trump administration on Friday (April 6) announced new sanctions against a list of Russian business tycoons, government officials and corporations, part of the continuing political and economic fallout from the nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter in England last month.

The roster includes some of the most powerful people and entities in Russia, with ties to President Vladimir Putin and his government. Many of them are suspected of corruption sanctioned by the Kremlin.

Britain has said that Moscow was likely behind the poisoning of Sergei V. Skripal and Yulia Skripal, and has persuaded its allies on both sides of the Atlantic. Russia denies any connection to the attack.

Here are some of the biggest names on the new sanctions list, and where their money came from.

Vladimir L. Bogdanov, secretive leader of an oil giant

Bogdanov, 66, is the director general and co-owner of Surgutneftegas, the fourth-biggest oil producer in Russia, which has an unusually opaque ownership structure, even by Russian standards.

On paper, Bogdanov, an associate of Putin's since the days when the president was a local official in St. Petersburg, owns just 0.37 per cent of the company, with a majority of its shares controlled by a web of "noncommercial partnerships".


Vladimir L. Bogdanov is the director general and co-owner of Surgutneftegas, the fourth-biggest oil producer in Russia. PHOTO: REUTERS

Surgutneftegas keeps cash reserves of about US$38.5 billion (S$50.6 billion) more than any other Russian company. Why it would stockpile so much money is a mystery that has fueled speculation that Bogdanov has helped hide money for Putin.

Those rumours have never been substantiated, but efforts to probe the company's ownership and finances have sometimes proved perilous.

Bill Browder, a US-born London-based financier who used to work in Moscow but now faces arrest if he returns, first came under attack from Russian authorities for tax fraud and other alleged crimes after he started digging into the oil company's affairs in the early 2000s.

One of the most secretive Russian tycoons, Bogdanov avoids flaunting his wealth. He is known as the "hermit of Siberia" because, unlike many Russian billionaires, he does not live in Moscow, but has stayed close to his Siberian oil fields.

Oleg V. Deripaska, industrial tycoon tied to Paul Manafort


Oleg V. Deripaska controls Basic Element, which in turn owns more than 100 Russian and international companies. PHOTO: REUTERS

Deripaska controls Basic Element, which in turn owns more than 100 Russian and international companies. He laid the foundation of his empire in the "aluminum wars" of the 1990s, a vicious struggle for control of natural resources in which he emerged triumphant, becoming the undisputed king of aluminum production in Russia.

Deripaska, 50, married Polina Yumasheva, whose father, Valentin Yumashev, worked for former President Boris N. Yeltsin and married Yeltsin's daughter, Tatyana Dyachenko. Yumashev and Putin were both top aides to Yeltsin in the late 1990s.

Later, Deripaska employed Paul Manafort, the political consultant who later became director of President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign. Manafort has since offered to testify in an investigation into Russia's role in the election. Deripaska and Manafort have since feuded, tangling over money that each accuses the other of owing.

Deripaska was at the centre of a recent video investigation, put together by Alexei A. Navalny, an anti-corruption campaigner and a vociferous opponent of Putin. The investigation found that Deripaska organized an outing on his luxury yacht, attended by Sergei Prikhodko, deputy prime minister of Russia and a Kremlin foreign policy adviser, and female escorts.

Suleiman A. Kerimov, gold magnate and politician


Suleiman A. Kerimov is both the owner of Polyus, Russia's biggest gold mining company, and a member of the Federation Council, the upper chamber of Russian parliament. PHOTO: REUTERS

Kerimov, 52, is both the owner of Polyus, Russia's biggest gold mining company, and a member of the Federation Council, the upper chamber of Russian parliament. He has been under investigation in France for tax fraud and money laundering, suspected of buying several villas in Cap d'Antibes through shell companies.

He was one of the main donors to the construction of Moscow's cathedral mosque, which was opened by Putin and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2015. He is a native of Derbent, Dagestan, an ancient walled town in the North Caucasus, on the border with Azerbaijan.

Igor A. Rotenberg, heir to a construction fortune

Rotenberg, 44, is the son of Arkady R. Rotenberg, Putin's former judo partner, and their family's business fortunes have gone hand-in-hand with Putin's political career. Igor Rotenberg is a junior partner in one of the country's largest construction companies, controlled by his father and his uncle.

The family's company was awarded lavish contracts to build pipelines for Gazprom, the state-controlled energy giant, and a bridge to Crimea, the Ukrainian Black Sea peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014.

Igor Rotenberg owns 50 percent of a company that collects tolls from Russian truckers, who protested in vain in 2015 over what they denounced as extortionate fees.

His cousin, Roman Rotenberg, is vice president of the Russian hockey federation.

Kirill N. Shamalov, said to have been Putin's son-in-law


Kirill N. Shamalov was a high-ranking executive and large shareholder of Sibur, a gas processing and petrochemical company. PHOTO: REUTERS

Shamalov, 36, became a high-ranking executive and large shareholder of Sibur, a gas processing and petrochemical company, shortly before he married Katerina Tikhonova, who is widely believed to be Putin's daughter.

In 2014, a year after their marriage, the state-owned Gazprombank lent Shamalov US$1 billion, which he used to buy a much larger stake in the company, 17 percent, from Gennady Timchenko, a businessman and member of Putin's inner circle.

Around the time Shamalov was reported to have separated from Tikhonova, he sold roughly the same portion of the company's shares.

Shamalov's father, Nikolai, was a former member of the Ozero dacha compound near St. Petersburg, together with Putin.

Andrei V. Skoch, billionaire parliamentarian

Skoch, 52, a member of the Russian parliament, part owner of a steel company, and a shareholder in the investment conglomerate run by Alisher B. Usmanov, a close associate of Putin's, who controls one of Russia's largest phone companies.

Numerous media reports have linked Skoch to organized crime - specifically to the syndicate known as the Solntsevo gang.

Viktor F. Vekselberg, one of Russia's wealthiest men


Viktor F. Vekselberg is the founder and principal owner of Renova Group, a large investment conglomerate with an array of assets around the world. PHOTO: REUTERS

Vekselberg, 60, who is close to the Kremlin, is the founder and principal owner of Renova Group, a large investment conglomerate with an array of assets around the world, including metals production, energy, telecommunications and banking companies, and a number of Russian airports.

Like many of Russia's oligarchs, he capitalized on the fire sale of state-owned assets in the 1990s. But unlike some who are known primarily for crony capitalism and corrupt deals, Vekselberg is seen as a serious businessman.

Forbes Magazine estimates his worth at US$14.6 billion, making him one of Russia's 10 wealthiest people, and the richest on the sanctions list.

In 2013, he opened the Faberge Museum in St. Petersburg in a lavishly restored former mansion, to display a collection of famed Faberge Imperial Easter eggs he bought from the Forbes family in 2004.