How and where Russians hide their assets

How and where Russians hide their assets

Russian oligarchs have acquired properties all over the world. However, they have been caught trying to launder them.
We know that oligarchs are doing this because of the massive leak from a Panamanian law firm called Mossack Fonseca, which specializes in setting up shell companies for clients that want to avoid taxes on their assets or keep their financial dealings secret. The Panama Papers revealed a number of Russian oligarchs who had hidden their fortunes and dodged taxes by transferring property to offshore entities.

Imposing international sanctions against the Russian federation did not encourage the Russians to realize their mistakes. Instead, they began looking for ways to circumvent the sanctions. And if for ordinary citizens, this turned into the hunt for imported clothes and the use of VPNs for communication on social networks, then wealthy people resorted to larger-scale actions.

🔎 Takeaways

  1. Russians are the second in the world by the number of superyachts.
  2. They disconnect ships from the global surveillance system or hide them in offshore financial centers.
  3. Russia is ranked 5th among real estate investors in Dubai and Turkey.
  4. Favourite business schemes of Russians: offshore financial centers, shell companies, fictitious owners.

Russian oligarchs find ways to evade sanctions by moving their assets or keeping the property in hard-to-reach trusts. According to Reuters, Abramovich-related yachts worth more than 1 billion USD are moored in the resort cities in Southern Turkey. Meanwhile, with his three yachts totalling 1,45 billion USD, Abramovich is the #1 owner of superyachts worldwide.

📈 According to our analytics, Russia is ranked second in the world after the USA by the number and total value of superyachts: 123 yachts worth approximately 12,5 billion USD. The third place is occupied by the United Kingdom – 110 yachts worth 3,4 billion USD, which is only 5,19% of the total value of all yachts worldwide.

The average price of a Russian owner's superyacht is 101,9 million USD.

At least 13 ships worth nearly 2,4 billion USD have been confiscated from Southern France to Fiji since Russia invaded Ukraine. In particular, the USA arrested the superyacht "Amadea", allegedly linked with the gold billionaire Suleyman Kerimov.

Some superyachts, according to BBC, have already been detained in European ports. Others remain at large – some are at sea, others – moored in places now protected from sanctions, including the Maldives. Many ships are linked with Russian billionaires, but the ownership right to them is shrouded in mystery – they are often registered through several offshore companies. Other superyachts have "withdrawn into the shadows".

• 72-metre "Clio" of Oleg Deripaska, the billionaire, owner of the holding "Basic Element" and one of Russia's wealthiest people, has sailed from the Indian Ocean to Turkey.

• 70-metre "Galactica Super Nova" of Vagit Alekperov, the former president of "Lukoil", has been hiding in an unknown place since March 2.

• 140-metre "Ocean Victory" of Viktor Rashnikov, the billionaire and owner of the Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works, last announced its whereabouts in Maldives on March 1.

Ocean Victory superyacht. Photo: Superyacht Times

And these are just the first robins. Following them, dozens of ships flew out of the Russian nest. They disappeared in an unknown direction, as Observer found out after analyzing AIS data of the company "VesselsValue".

According to the industry data, about 9300 superyachts worth more than 60 billion USD remain at sea, and 10% of this fleet belongs to Russians. Insider mapped the location of 19 yachts belonging to some of putin's inner circle:

The owners of these yachts are probably aware of the risk of becoming a target of the global hunt for the assets of Russia's super-rich, which is why they hide from the ocean surveillance system.

A Penthouse Is the Best Hiding Place from Sanctions

Other Russian oligarchs flee by yachts and private jets to Dubai, where they buy luxury real estate.

According to Dubai housing analysis companies, in the first quarter of 2022 the share of Russian real estate buyers in Dubai increased by 67%. Some companies even set up a special department to provide services to Russian customers.

A similar picture is in Turkey, where Russians have always been regular real estate buyers. Still, with the war, the demand has risen sharply.

Dubai brokers receive barter offers from wealthy Russians, such as exchanging a house in London for a house in Dubai. Thus, they try to avoid losing the opportunity to sell property abroad because of personal sanctions or restrictions on banking transactions.

Russian Rich Maintained Usual comfort and Overcame Bans in Creative Ways

International economic sanctions are an obstacle, but the percentage of their effectiveness is questionable. At the same time, the Russian rich maintain their usual comfort and overcame bans in various creative ways: several forms of ownership, "straw"-companies, and registration of property for third parties.

When we turn a blind eye to the reputation of counterparties, do not check business links of suppliers and customers, and are not interested in the history of activity of companies, we strengthen and support the usual work schemes of Russians. And it harms businesses around the world. We get subject to fines, reputational losses, and financial losses because of Russian business manipulations.

How to find linked assets

Ties are an indicator and a trace due to which any tangle of vicious contacts can be solved.

  • We developed the YC Wolrd (ex. RuAssets), which works on the principle of a spy tracker: it tracks the deepest (up to level 4) links with Russian assets and entities subject to sanctions.
  • The analysts developing YC World have eight years of practical experience in business intelligence and working with open data. We have considered all possible customer needs and made them the advantages of YC World.
  • The service contains more than 180 million relevant connections of companies and individuals from the CIS countries and the UK, including information on ultimate beneficial owners and assets. It is possible to track and identify Russian assets through a chain of intermediary countries.
  • Also it contains the huge list of PEPs of the CIS countries and full data on sanctions from more than 50 international lists and databases.
  • There is data on military terrorists, such as Russian regular troops, employees of Russian intelligence services employees and other terrorist groups.

Join us to protect your business, conduct deep investigations and not allow terrorist countries to skim the cream off illegal activities despite the values of freedom, security and democracy.

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