Herman Gref, head of Sberbank, might be the actual owner of Altera Capital, a company which, through a chain of offshore entities, owns stakes in GAZ Group, Danilovsky Market, Group IB, the Arcus business centers in Moscow and many other assets worth $300-500 million, while the nominee owner is his ex-deputy and former deputy chief of staff of the Russian government Kirill Androsov, who for some reason bequeathed all those assets not to his family but to his 23-year-old nephew Oscar Gref, Proekt investigators claim.
The investigators say that over the past 10 years, Gref was moving money abroad and building an “offshore empire.” The investigation is based on leaked Pandora Papers and the reminiscences of Akhmed Bilalov, a former State Duma deputy and former beneficiary of Krasnaya Polyana, one of the main real estate developers for the Sochi Olympics. Journalists talked to Bilalov, who was a good friend of Gref's in the 2000s and lost his company in 2011 over a conflict with him. He had to flee abroad to avoid being arrested, and it was not until this year that he filed a lawsuit in a New York court against Gref and Sber's U.S. subsidiary. The businessman accuses Gref of raiding his business.
Previously, Altera Capital’s sole nominal owner was Swiss Life, a Swiss insurance company owned by a trust, whose beneficiary was Evgeny Novitsky, a former top manager. In 2021, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), as part of the Pandora Papers, obtained access to leaked documents of AsiaCiti, a Singapore-based trust service provider. Proekt journalists reviewed previously unpublished documents and concluded that Gref was behind Altera Capital. Formally, Altera Capital is headed by two of Gref's close friends, Androsov and Philip Kindt, a citizen of Germany and Switzerland.
Three of Gref's acquaintances and colleagues call Kirill Androsov, the former deputy chief of staff of the Russian government, his most trusted confidant, while Bilalov called him “Gref's wallet” in an interview. Androsov has been working with Gref since the 1990s; in the 2000s, they worked at the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade. Little is known about Philipp Kindt, a German and Swiss citizen. In one of the letters, an AsiaCiti employee said that during a meeting, Gref and Kindt told the story of how they met. When Gref worked at the St. Petersburg mayor's office, he needed an insurance specialist, and Kindt then worked at the German reinsurance company Munich Re and supervised its business in Russia and other CIS countries.