Russian President Vladimir Putin might be the richest man in the world, according to experts who believe he could have a net worth of $200billion.
The official richest man in the world, according to Forbes, is Microsoft’s Bill Gates with a net worth of $75billion.
During his nearly two decades in power, Putin’s net worth has been widely speculated, with the former KGB agent likely having private assets in real estate and company holdings.
One of the most quoted guesses of the 64-year-old’s net worth is political analyst Stanslav Belkovsky’s 2007 estimation of $40billion, but Bill Browder, author and a former fund manager in Russia, has said the president has a higher worth – upwards of $200billion.
IBTimes raised the question of Putin’s wealth last week, pointing out that Browder spoke to Fareed Zakaria GPS in 2015, claiming that Putin’s years in power have led him to gain quite a fortune.
‘I believe that it’s $200 billion,’ he said at the time. ‘After 14 years in power of Russia, and the amount of money that the country has made, and the amount of money that hasn’t been spent on schools and roads and hospitals and so on, all that money is in property, bank – Swiss bank accounts – shares, hedge funds, managed for Putin and his cronies.’
And yet, Putin has been snubbed from the official Forbes list of the world’s richest men and women over the years.
‘We value individuals’ assets–including stakes in public and private companies, real estate, yachts, art and cash–and take into account estimates of debt. We also consult an array of outside experts in various fields,’ Forbes wrote in 2015.
Without mentioning Putin or any other names, Forbes said the magazine excludes world leaders, particularly ‘dictators who derive their fortunes entirely as a result of their position of power’.
Still, even Belkovsky’s low estimation of $40billion would put Putin, who’s rumored to be dating Olympic gold medalist Alina Kabaeva, into the top ten of Forbes’ billionaires list.
Belkovsky said that much of Putin’s net worth was thanks to the oil business, saying the Russian president controlled 37 per cent of the oil company Surgutneftegaz, 4.5 per cent of the natural gas company Gazprom, and had holdings in the commodities trader, Gunvor.
Gunvor denies that Putin ever had any ownership in the company, which made $93billion in revenue in 2012, according to TIME.
Since first estimating that Putin was worth $40billion, Belkovsky upped his estimate to $70billion, claiming he gained more information from ‘confidential sources around the corporations’, according to an interview with The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
A net worth of $70million would put Putin in second place on the Forbes billionaires list, only behind Gates and right above Zara’s Amancio Ortega.
A well-known sign of wealth for Putin is his $35million super yacht named Olympia.
Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich is claimed to have given Putin the yacht after he became president of Russia.
But perhaps one of Putin’s most visible signs of wealth is a palace on the Black Sea that’s reportedly worth $1billion.
The palace features ‘a magnificent columned facade reminiscent of the country palaces Russian tsars built in the 18th Century’, according to the BBC.
In a statement in 2010, however, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the president ‘has never had any relationship to’ the palace.
Meanwhile, self-exiled Russian businessman named Sergei Kolesnikov told BBC that the palace was personally built for Putin, but paid for with a secret slush fund formed by Russian oligarchs.
If Putin, a judo black belt and amateur ice hockey player, not only has access to the country’s corporate wealth, but also to the oligarch slush fund, his assets expand tremendously.
According to a dossier written by a political rival of the Russian president, Putin could have access to up to 58 planes and helicopters, a $500,000 watch collection and 20 palaces and country retreats.
The report also claimed he uses a private jet with an $137million cabin which has a bathroom with gold fittings and a $62,000 toilet.
Other perks include a 2,300-acre residence on Lake Valdai in north-west Russia.
‘In a country where 20 million people can barely make ends meet, the luxurious life of the president is a brazen and cynical challenge to society from a high-handed potentate,’ Boris Nemstov wrote in the document, according to the Telegraph.
In April 2015, Putin declared a 2014 income of just $119,000, listing ownership of two apartments and a share in a car parking garage.
Despite being left of the Forbes billionaires list, Putin is still at the top spot for the magazine’s list of most powerful people in the world.
Putin’s rumored girlfriend, Kabaeva, made a rare appearance opening of rhythmic gymnastics international tournament Grand Prix Moscow 2017 on Monday.
Former acting Secretary of the US Treasury, Adam Szubin, said last year that the American government has known of Mr Putin’s corruption for ‘many, many years’.
He told BBC Panorama: ‘We’ve seen him enriching his friends, his close allies, and marginalising those who he doesn’t view as friends using state assets.
‘Whether that’s Russia’s energy wealth, whether it’s other state contracts, he directs those to whom he believes will serve him and excludes those who don’t. To me, that is a picture of corruption.’
‘He supposedly draws a state salary of something like £80,000 a year,’ added Szubin. ‘That is not an accurate statement of the man’s wealth, and he has long-time training and practices in terms of how to mask his actual wealth.’
Putin has previously scoffed at claims he was Europe’s richest man, saying: ‘It’s simply rubbish. They just picked all of it out of someone’s nose and smeared it across their little papers.’
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