Which assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin can be seized due to Ukraine invasion?

Updated: Mar 02, 2022, 04:27 PM(IST)

Following "a classified briefing" on the Ukraine crisis, US Senator Chris Murphy has said that the West can seize the assets belonging to Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Let's take a look at his assets:

Putin's assets remain an enigma

Very little is known about the size of Putin's wealth and where it could be. On paper, has no overseas assets at all. Anything he owns overseas is held, officially, by his associates or relatives, according to a 2016 report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The absence of a genuine paper trail testifying to Putin’s ownership of assets is very likely to render this new sanction toothless.

In 2017, Bill Browder, the CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, who had once been denied entry to Russia in 2005, told the Senate Judiciary Committee: “I estimate that [Putin] has accumulated $200 billion of ill-gotten gains from these types of operations over his 17 years in power.”

Anders Aslund, author of the 2019 book Russia's Crony Capitalism, claimed that the Russian leader had about $125 billion hidden in offshore havens, according to The New York Times.

(Photograph:Reuters)

Four cars and an apartment

Every year, the Kremlin purports to disclose Putin’s assets. In 2020, the page-long document showed that Putin owns an 830-square-foot apartment and a 193-square-foot garage. In this garage, presumably, he parks the vehicles he owns: two Volga GAZ M21 cars, a Lada SUV, and a Skif tent trailer. The disclosure also mentions that Putin has the use of another 1,650-square-foot apartment, although it doesn’t specify who owns it. Putin’s annual income is about $119,000, according to this statement.

(Photograph:Agencies)

'Putin's Palace'

In 2021, the now banned Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) of opposition politician, Alexei Navalny, produced a video that went viral titled "Putin's Palace" which outlined a luxurious property worth more than $1 billion near Gelendzhik on Russia's southern Black Sea coast.

(Photograph:Reuters)

Ozero cooperative

It was during the tumultuous and wild 1990s that Putin made his initial wealth. According to Nikolai Andrushenko, who worked with Putin, Putin’s motto in those days was “you gotta make dough!” And that he did.

Abusing his position in the St. Petersburg Mayor’s Office, Putin is alleged to have pilfered on a grand scale from barter contracts intended to feed the famished population of his native city. It is estimated that $100 million worth of shipments never reached St. Petersburg. While the entire country was an economic shambles following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Putin was making his dough.

Since his St. Petersburg days, Putin’s wealth has been divided and held in a secret trust network of his most trusted associates. In the early 1990s, his inner circle lived together in a small village and established a wealth-sharing scheme known as the Ozero cooperative. As Putin’s power and wealth grew so did that of his friends: he brought them to the Kremlin and put them in charge of companies and organizations that oversee massive government projects. This allows Putin’s gang to steal directly from the state treasury, as well as from any entity brazen or foolish enough to conduct business with them.

(Photograph:Twitter)

Putin's closest friends became billionaires during his rule

Putin’s best friend, Sergei Roldugin, who portrayed himself as a modest musician, but leaked documents reveal his role in a secret money-go-round. 

The Panama Papers revealed that Roldugin was personally making £6.5m a year, and had almost £19m in cash from his secret stake in one of Russia’s most lucrative advertising agencies, Video International.

Given how Putin’s closest friends and associates have enriched themselves during his tenure, it’s difficult to believe Putin hasn’t done the same.

(Photograph:AFP)

Putin’s wealth managers also targeted under sanctions

The US Treasury department seems to have known about Putin's schemes, because sanctions imposed in response to Russian aggression in Eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea targeted entities and persons who were effectively Putin’s wealth managers. Furthermore, Adam Szubin, who oversees US Treasury sanctions, has gone on record about Putin’s corruption.

(Photograph:Reuters)

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