Russia on Tuesday dismissed a joint investigation that uncovered a common thread between several assets allegedly linked to Vladimir Putin.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov brushed off a bombshell joint report by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and Meduza, an independent Russian- and English-language media headquartered in Latvia.
The investigation linked 86 companies and non-profit organizations in a cooperative suspected of owning luxury real estate, yachts and bank accounts linked to the sanctioned Bank Rossiya, and sharing the same email domain name: LLCinvest. ru.
The seemingly interconnected companies hold assets, including a sprawling palace on the Black Sea, worth at least $4.5 billion, according to the report.
Many of them have been linked to Putin in previous reports, but were not previously known to be linked, according to the report’s key findings.
“Every major asset that has been publicly attributed to Putin shares this connection,” the report said.
Western powers have sought to determine where Putin’s wealth lies, as they impose sanctions on him and those around him. It proved difficult, however, to link many of his alleged holdings directly to him.
Peskov rejected the joint report at a press briefing on Tuesday and asked the public not to take these publications seriously.
“They really sent us requests, we told them that it all made no sense, and, of course, the president of Russia has nothing to do with it, it looks like another concoction of information,” state media quoted Putin’s spokesman as saying. as told.
LLCinvest.ru is not a standard publicly visible email provider. This is an email domain on a server belonging to the IT company Moskomsvyaz, which has close ties with Bank Rossiya. The bank was hit with Western sanctions after Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine on February 24.
The bank has previously been described by the US Treasury as “the personal bank of senior officials of the Russian Federation“.
The report found that Moskomsvyaz email metadata leaked to reporters revealed that managers, owners and employees of these “unrelated outsiders” LLCInvest companies often communicated “in a way you only expect people working together”.
People associated with these seemingly separate entities discuss issues as if they were part of a single company, the report said, noting that all companies and nonprofits share the same directors, registration addresses and service providers. services such as auditors and registrars.
“[The group] primarily resembles a cooperative, or an association, in which its members can exchange profits and goods,” said a corruption expert in Russia, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The companies studied by OCCRP and Meduza have a variety of owners, including wealthy bank board members and shareholders and Russian oligarchs, but also Putin’s alleged mistress Svetlana Krivonogikh and her friends and associates , according to the report.
Newsweek contacted Moskomsvyaz and Bank Rossiya for comment.