Moscow: Roman Abramovich gave Vladimir Putin a £25 million yacht in one of dozens of acquisitions through which the Russian president has amassed a vast covert fortune, it has been claimed. A senior American official openly accused Putin of corruption, nepotism, and direct embezzlement of state funds.
While Putin’s personal wealth has been the subject of speculation and claims of corruption for years, little evidence has ever been produced to back up such allegations.
Details include Putin’s alleged acquisition of the Olympia, a 187ft yacht.
Dmitry Skarga, a former head of Russia’s state shipping company Sovcomflot, said the boat was a gift from the oligarch owner of Chelsea Football Club, who transferred it to the president via an intermediary.
“It’s a fact that Mr Abramovich, through his employee, transferred a yacht to Mr Putin,” Skarga said.
He also alleged that the yacht was maintained with state funds, even though it is Putin’s personal property.
Abramovich was reputedly the first person to recommend to Boris Yeltsin that Putin be his successor, back in 1999.
Abramovich would remain one of Putin’s closest confidants, with the pair being described by the president’s biographer, Chris Hutchins, as having a relationship of father and favourite son.
In 2007 Stanislav Belkovsky, a Russian political commentator, claimed Putin had amassed $40 billion through stakes in three Russian energy companies. Last year, Bill Browder, a hedge fund manager and critic of Putin, claimed that the president was worth $200 billion — a sum that would make him by far the richest man in the world.
In 2014 the US stated that Putin had secret investments in the energy sector, but did not accuse him of corruption.
Putin’s spokesman has called these claims “complete trash”.
Abramovich’s lawyers called the claims about the yacht “unsubstantiated” and little more than a “rehash of speculation and rumours”.
Courtesy Gulf News