Despite being under international sanctions, businessmen from Putin's close entourage Gennady Timchenko and Arkady Rotenberg are successfully concealing their assets from European authorities, according to Important Stories. A former business partner of the oligarchs told the publication that they are getting help from professional European asset managers.
Thus, Timchenko has had his assets handled by the Eries, a family of professional managers from Liechtenstein, for years. Their companies were listed as owners of the Russian businessman’s assets, including Jardin Developments, an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands.
In 2009, the small Liechtenstein firm Handelshaus Hoop&Partner, in which the patriarch of the family, Louis Erie, had a stake, acquired the Austrian trader Citco, which, in turn, was the main trader of Sibur, one of Russia’s petrochemical giants. The Russian group of companies soon bought Citco for $1 billion. Today, the family is running a Liechtenstein-based trust company named Sequoia, which incorporates Volga Group with a registered address in Luxembourg. It is through this company that Timchenko owned most of its assets as of 2014.
According to Important Stories, Louis Erie has extensive experience in such matters: back in the GDR days, he engaged in clandestine commercial and financial transactions under the auspices of the Stasi to earn hard currency for the socialist state. In particular, Erie was complicit in secret shipments of high-tech products, such as data center equipment, from the Soviet Union.
As for Arkady Rotenberg, the publication believes that his European affairs are managed by former Stroygazmontazh executive Ruslan Goryukhin. He is the technical owner of RG Development, whose actual beneficiary is presumably the sanctioned Russian oligarch. This connection has been exposed in German media, along with the fact that the ex-manager of Putin's friend is purchasing luxury properties across Germany. Goryukhin filed lawsuits with German courts, demanding a retraction, testified under oath that RG Development has no links to Rotenberg, and managed to convince the court he was telling the truth.
“With this approach, European authorities will be hard-pressed to establish who is helping the Russian president's friends circumvent sanctions or could be handling their funds,” said a Russian acquaintance of the Rotenbergs’. Kush Amin, a legal specialist at Transparency International, remarked that the existence of such schemes built on oral agreements is common knowledge worldwide, but officials are turning a blind eye to them for now.
In November 2022, the EU criminalized circumventing sanctions, offering assistance to that effect, and withholding information about such instances.
Early in February, the Finnish media outlet STT reported that Gennady Timchenko and Arkady Rotenberg, who had obtained Finnish citizenship in 1999 and 2003, respectively, had been issued passports in violation of the standard procedure. According to STT, they were exempt from the mandatory background checks by SUPO (the Finnish Security Intelligence Service).