From left: Arkady Volozh, Boris Mints, Alexander Natanovich Nesis
The United States has included three Maltese citizens on a list of 96 wealthy Russians it identifies as “oligarchs” close to President Vladimir Putin.
These are Arkady Volozh, founder of Russian search engine Yandex, Boris Mints, owner of major investment company O1 Group, and Alexander Natanovich Nesis, founder of private equity firm ICT Group.
Although not officially confirmed, it is widely believed that all three have acquired Maltese citizenship through the Individual Investor Programme (IIP), which has proven immensely popular amongst wealthy Russians.
The US Treasury Department published its list of 96 Russian oligarchs and 114 senior politicians late last night as part of a sanctions law passed by Congress in August aimed to punish Russia for allegedly meddling in the 2016 US election and for its actions in Ukraine.
BREAKING: Treasury list of Russian Oligarchs released. “Those individuals who, according to reliable public sources, have an estimated net worth of $1 billion or more.”
Here’s the list. pic.twitter.com/x7crtZNU5f
— Christina Wilkie (@christinawilkie) January 30, 2018
Although the US insisted it is not a sanctions list, the Kremlin reacted angrily and said those included “are de facto being named as enemies of the United States”.
“Publication of such a wide list of everything and everyone could potentially damage the image and reputation of our firms, our businessmen, our politicians and of members of the leadership,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
However, Russian anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, who is hoping to challenge Putin in March’s presidential elections despite an official ban, said the report was actually a “realistic list describing what we could call the Putin mafia”.
“Obviously these people have different roles, but they are absolutely the backbone of a corrupt regime and they get significant personal benefits from it,” he said.