Russia’s President is often said to be one of the richest men in the world, something strenuously denied by a succession of spokespeople and Putin-controlled media. One estimate has his fortune at €420 billion, which would put him way ahead of Bill Gates. The most quoted amount, though, is the figure of €40 billion. Yet he does not appear on any of the many ‘rich lists’, including Forbes and The Sunday Times. Here are five reasons this is so:
1. Putin’s money and properties are hidden behind a large number of companies, none of which have him as a board member or shareholder. He usually uses front men or shell companies as shields, all distributed among the many tax havens throughout the world.
2. Putin’s megalomania may well stem from his childhood, according to Natalia Gevorkian, who, with others, was commissioned to write what she calls a fictitious, though ‘official’, biography of the president and is now in exile in Paris. In a recent interview for a fascinating BBC/Fifth Estate documentary, she said that, in the tiny flat in which he was brought up, he would chase rats. He learned, says Gevorkian that Putin told her himself, that a cornered animal will always attack as a last ditch attempt at escape. Putin has carried that experience, what he learned from it and the poverty in which he was brought up, with him since boyhood. This would probably account for his perception of power and the importance of. It would also account for his amassing the fortune he is purported to possess.
3, The way Vladimir Putin is supposed to have put together that kind of money is allegedly the result of the outrageous corruption in Russia and the former Soviet states after the fall of the so-called Communist regime. As Deputy President during the Boris Yeltsin era and Yeltsin’s supposed successor, the opportunities for corruption were all around.
4. His often-denied implication, directly or otherwise, in several murders and assassinations (the latest of which is that of Boris Nemstov, a leader of the opposition to Putin’s government), and those of several journalists and politicians who don’t like him — who didn’t like him, more correctly — puts Putin in the same class as those enormously rich Latin American and Asian drug lords, none of whom have ever appeared on the rich lists, for all their money.
5. His supposed links to the bombing of apartment buildings in Moscow and other Russian cities that killed over 300 people and was blamed on Chechen rebels, plus his alleged ties to organised crime and money-laundering activities dating way back to the 1990s in St. Petersburg, only exacerbate his being excluded from the lists. The rich lists don’t like criminals, even if their criminality is strenuously denied.
Recently, though, the low price of oil, one of Russia’s basic exports (and, it is believed, where Putin has several fingers in several pies) and the state of the country’s economy, could mean a dangerous reversal of fortune for Vladimir Putin, according to Bloomberg.