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These palaces, wineries, and villas are all part of a $4.5 billion network of assets linked to Putin, report suggests

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Putin palace black sea FBK
An image showing the outside a palace linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin.FBK
  • A plethora of villas, wineries, and palaces all connected to Putin were linked in a new report.

  • An investigation found that the outwardly-unconnected assets all used the same email domain.

  • The Kremlin denies any connection to Putin.

A single email domain links a vast network of palaces, yachts, wineries, and pleasure resorts, all connected to Russian President Vladimir Putin, a new investigation says.

The joint investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and independent Russian news outlet Meduza, published Sunday, found that dozens of outwardly disparate companies were all using the email domain "LLCInvest.ru" and communicating as if part of the same company.

The domain is hosted by a company called Moskomsvyaz that also connects many of the assets named in the report. The report said Moskomsvyaz is affiliated with the private Bank Rossiya, which is known as the preferred home of the riches of Putin's inner circle.

These assets have no direct connection to Putin, but many are said to be frequently used by him. His coterie of oligarchs, cronies, and even mistresses are publicly named as the properties' owners, the investigation said.

With a collective value of $4.5 billion, the investigation offers clues to how Putin may be hiding his wider assets.

The Kremlin denied any connection to Putin, telling the OCCRP: "The President of the Russian Federation is not linked or affiliated in any way with the assets and organizations you mentioned."

These are some of the properties and companies that have been connected in the report.

'Putin's Palace'

Putin palace images
An image from inside Vladimir Putin's purported secret palace.FBK

Several of the assets described in the report — such as the now-infamous "Putin's Palace" on the Black Sea — have been connected to Putin before.

In January 2021, the jailed opposition activist Alexei Navalny published an in-depth investigation accusing Putin of funding the lavish palace through bribes. (Arkady Rotenberg, an old friend of Putin's who is now under US sanctions, claimed to be the site's owner.)

But Sunday's investigation found that employees at the 18,000-square-foot property's ultimate parent company, Binom, use the LLCInvest.ru email domain. The Binom domain is also hosted by Moskomsvyaz, the report said.

Villa Sellgren

A building marked as "Sellgren's Manor" on Google Earth, in Vyborg, northwest Russia, in July 2020..
A building marked as "Sellgren's Manor" on Google Earth, in Vyborg, northwest Russia, in July 2020.Google Earth

In 2012, Russian petrochemical company Sibur spent $1 million in 2012 to rent Villa Selgen, a stately 1913 mansion in Vyborg, a northwestern Russian town on the Gulf of Finland, OCCRP reported in a separate article.

Its owner, a company called Sever, is 99%-controlled by Oleg Rudnov, who is an old friend of Putin's.

The company also uses the LLCInvest.ru email, and LLCInvest is also a shareholder in Sever, the investigation said.

The 'Fisherman's Hut'

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Russian CEO of Rosneft oil company Igor Sechin seen with the Konevsky Monastery on the Lake Ladoga behind them, Saturday, July 31, 2021.
Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin and Putin at the Konevsky Monastery on the Konevets Island in Lake Ladoga on July 31, 2021.Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Despite its modest name, the Fisherman's Hut is a striking modernist wooden villa in Lake Lagoda, near to Finland.

According to the investigation, it's known locally as a vacation spot for Putin, and is surrounded by 420 hectares of land found to belong to LLC Invest.

Corporate records of Prime, the company that owns the building, showed the LLCInvest.ru email domain in use, the investigation said.

Reports — some dating back to the 1990s — regularly connect Lake Ladoga to Putin, who is seen in the image above during a visit to a monastery there with Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin in 2021.

Inkerman Winery, Crimea

A view through rows of large barrels at Inkerman Winery, southeast of Sevastopol, Crimea, in March 2014. A worker walks in the distance.
A picture taken on March 13, 2014, shows a wine cellar of the Inkerman Winery, southeast of Sevastopol.Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images

This winery in Sevastopol, in Russian-annexed Crimea, is one of several named in the report, and was bought from Swedish owners in 2019 by a company named Optima, the investigation found.

Optima, owned by a retired Soviet colonel named Valery ZakhaThryin, is another company in the LLC Invest network, the report found.

The report said that Optima's own domain name is registered with Moskomvyaz and its director uses an LLCInvest.ru email address.

Read the original article on Business Insider