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Family of Norwegian diplomat helps son of Russia’s top national security chief Nikolai Patrushev dodge sanctions, Dossier Center reports

Andrei Patrushev, an oil executive and the youngest son of Russian Security Council Secretary and former FSB head Nikolai Patrushev, has managed to evade many of the sanctions imposed on him following the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Shortly after February 24, 2022, Andrei Patrushev surrendered his 37.77% ownership stake in the company “Marine Arctic Geological Exploration Expedition” (MAGE), saving the organization from being blacklisted.

A joint investigation by the Dossier Center and the Norwegian publication Stavanger Aftenblad found that the younger Patrushev’s scheme has been disturbingly successful. Despite his placement on the U.S. Treasury’s sanctions list, MAGE continued to do business with Western companies, and the Russian company was aided by Gunnar Nordsletten, himself the son of a Norwegian diplomat. The younger Nordsletten’s company provided the ships needed for work on offshore shelf projects being developed by Andrei Patrushev’s (officially former) company after the start of the Russian invasion. The relationship between the two companies goes back further, as Nordsletten was personally involved in a deal to buy a drilling company on behalf of Andrei Patrushev shortly before the full-scale invasion began.

According to the investigation, Andrei Patrushev attempted to hide the fact that he had previously been a shareholder of MAGE. Russian tax records show that Patrushev Jr. was never paid by MAGE — instead, the money meant for him was deposited into the account of one “Alexei Golubev,” who has the same date of birth, tax ID number, and passport number as Andrei Patrushev. According to the report, “Alexei Golubev” was the alias used by the security chief’s son to conceal his identity in Russia’s Federal Tax Service database. The service also classified data on his father, Nikolai Patrushev.

Andrei Patrushev's share was transferred to the company Neva Invest, which does not disclose its shareholders. Bank documents made available to the Dossier Center and statements of related legal entities indicated that Neva Invest’s beneficiary is Andrei Dovnarovich. Dovnarovich was born in Minsk, his father worked for the KGB, and he once headed the IT Department of Gazprom Neft Shelf — where he was a direct subordinate of Andrei Patrushev. Dossier reports that Dovnarovich, a member of Andrei Patrushev’s inner circle, is likely a nominal owner of Neva Invest, — he is one of several close associates who have taken on the official ownership of multiple companies on their friend’s behalf.

Neva Invest is also known to have transferred 25.5 million rubles (almost $282,000 at current exchange rates) to Andrei Patrushev's Arctic Initiatives Centre. Formally, this is a non-profit organization that deals with the development of the Arctic and has no beneficiaries. In fact, however, it is the parent structure of Andrei Patrushev's business, through which he owns stakes in various companies.

Gunnar Nordsletten, the son of Norwegian diplomat Øyvind Nordsletten, does business in Russia and has lived in Moscow for twenty years. The younger Nordsletten’s father-in-law's connections helped him start his business. in 2011, Nordsletten married Anastasia Levinson, the daughter of the former deputy governor of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, Joseph Levinson. Joseph Levinson helped found Russia’s second-largest gas producer Novatek, where he was a board member — and a close friend of the company's co-owner, oligarch Leonid Mikhelson. Mikhelson has always denied that Levinson was among Novatek’s owners, saying that their friendship had no influence on the organization. It was Levinson, however, who in 2003 authorized the transfer of shares in the company holding the license for the Yuzhno-Tambeyskoye gas field to Novatek. The field soon became part of Novatek’s Yamal LNG project.

Nordsletten Jr. also cooperated with Novatek. In 2012, the company Sevnor was established in Cyprus. Sevnor’s actual owners are hidden, but among them is Argali Holdings, a firm registered in the British Virgin Islands. By the early 2020s, Sevnor owned multiple legal entities in Russia and serviced Novatek’s gas fields. It also owned eight ships. In January 2023, Sevnor applied for a permit for one of the ships to enter a Norwegian port and provided the authorities with documents on the ultimate beneficiaries of the ship. The papers indicated that Argali Holdings was owned by Gunnar Nordsletten.

Dossier reports that Sevnor divided the business after the onset of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The company parted ways with its Russian subsidiaries and changed its name to “Marvik Shipping.” However, it did not sever ties with Russia for good. The company now has five ships that support oil and gas fields in Russia. According to Marvik Shipping's accounts, along with data from the Russian shipping registry, at least two of these ships are linked to Patrushev's Marine Arctic Geological Exploration Expedition (MAGE).

MAGE itself has been under U.S. sanctions since February 2023. Nordsletten, responding to an inquiry from Stavanger Aftenblad, noted that after the war began, the EU banned Russian-flagged ships from entering Europe, with Russia imposing an embargo on ship exports in response. “That’s why the European authorities gave temporary permission for ships to operate in Russia until a solution is found,” Nordsletten said, adding that his company, Marvik Shipping, sold all its ships in November-December 2023. He did not provide documents confirming the sale. The Russian ship registry also contains no evidence that the owner of the ships or the party to the chartering contract has changed.

This isn’t the only area in which the business interests of Patrushev Jr. and Nordsletten have overlapped. In January 2022, Aurora acquired 10% in the Cypriot shell company IGS, the parent structure of the Investgeoservice Group. The deal totaled just over 400 million rubles (approximately $4.396 million), and Aurora retains the right to buy another 25.4% stake. IGS owns more than 30 drilling rigs and is a major contractor for Novatek. Aurora is formally owned by one Roman Ivanov — Stavanger Aftenbladet, however, has found a document in the leaked Cyprus Confidential papers in which Ivanov confirms that he acts as a nominal owner, while the real beneficiary is in fact Gunnar Nordsletten.

The Norwegian diplomat's son told Stavanger Aftenbladet that his relationship with IGS ended somewhere between December 2021 and February 2022. At the same time, Nordsletten denies that Roman Ivanov and, consequently, Aurora, acted in his interests This statement of Nordsletten’s, however, has been refuted by the Cyprus Confidential leak, as Aurora is still listed in the Cyprus registry as a co-owner of IGS. Those involved in the market continue to associate IGS with Andrei Patrushev.

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