Three Russian oligarchs under sanctions are among those declaring ownership of more than £35m of UK assets through the British Virgin Islands, Cyprus and Russia, the Guardian has found.
Billionaire and Roman Abramovich ally Alexander Frolov owns a mansion in Weybridge, moved to Surrey in 2008 and bought a flat in Knightsbridge through the BVI for £15.4m, it has been revealed.
Frolov, who holds an estimated 10% stake in UK-incorporated mining company Evraz, was banned last year along with co-owners Abramovich and Alexander Abramov.
The UK government has said it is involved in benefiting from or assisting the Russian government by owning or controlling Evraz, a company that trades in Russian mining, transport and construction in areas of strategic importance to the Russian government. areas.
The Guardian previously revealed Frolov’s global assets but the two offshore assets were not identified. Frolov was contacted for comment.
Former Russian Deputy First Minister Igor Shuvalov has been confirmed in the register as the ultimate owner of two flats in Whitehall Court, Westminster, meters from the Ministry of Defence. They were bought in October 2014 for more than £11.4m and held through a Russian company, Sova Real Estate LLC.
His ownership was previously alleged by opposition politician Alexei Navalny in 2015. According to an investigation by Navalny’s Fund for the Fight Against Corruption, Shuvalov converted two flats into a 500 square meter luxury apartment.
Shubhalov, a former lawyer seen as Russia’s most senior liberal figure who served in the cabinet of Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin, left politics in 2018 to head VEB, the state bank. He was banned by Britain last year. .
When asked about the ownership of Shubhalov’s flats and why they were put through the company, a spokesperson for VEB said: “Given the current situation between Russia and the West and given the questions asked, one cannot expect inquiries and publications. To be fair.”
“Igor Shuvalov’s affairs are regularly and rigorously checked through controls and supervision to ensure compliance with the laws of the Russian Federation. Compliance with applicable laws is an absolute priority for Igor Shuvalov… Real estate owned in the UK by the Russian company Sova Real Estate Russian and British regulators Both are fully transparent, although additional costs and tax liabilities are increased.
Another property is listed as last owned by Vladimir Potanin, known as the “Nickel King” and considered one of Russia’s richest businessmen.
He is listed as the beneficial owner of part of a City of London office block through the Cyprus-based branch of Norilsk Nickel, of which Potanin owns a third. Potanin was banned last year based on his involvement with Russian bank Rosbank.
A spokeswoman for Norilsk Nickel, which is not subject to sanctions, said the City of London property was held on a long-term lease. “As Mr. Potanin is an ultimate beneficial owner of Norilsk Nickel, and in the absence of other ultimate beneficial owners above 25%, Mr. Potanin’s name is filed on the UK Register of Foreign Entities,” they said.
A register of foreign entities was launched last year to bring transparency to the ownership of UK assets. Individuals have until January 31 to declare the beneficial owners of foreign companies with UK assets.
The Guardian believes there is a public interest in reporting on the business interests and asset ownership structure of the wealthy, politically connected and influential.
Three-quarters of registered companies are based in five jurisdictions: BVI, Jersey, Isle of Man, Guernsey and Luxembourg.
Holding assets through offshore companies is legal and some people may have genuine and legitimate privacy or security concerns or business reasons for using them.
Experts say that it can be allowed to reduce the tax liability of a person as the owner or buyer of the property or, until now, to keep the property anonymously. Some investors also cite the stability of tax systems in jurisdictions such as Jersey and Guernsey as a reason why their companies are based there or they may live abroad.