NewsLocalCypriot company key in multi-stage scheme to enrich Putin, even through vodka

Cypriot company key in multi-stage scheme to enrich Putin, even through vodka

An inconspicuous Cypriot company is the key element in a multi-stage scheme to enrich Vladimir Putin, his family, and his entourage, according to investigative reporting website Proekt.

The Cyprus-registered Ermira Consultants — the nominal owner of which was St. Petersburg lawyer Vladislav Kopilov — was revealed by Proekt to be Vladimir Putin’s personal offshore company.

Proekt identified Ermira Consultants as one of the companies linked to the construction of Putin’s lavish Black Sea palace, the existence of which was uncovered by jailed anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny and his team in a landmark 2021 investigation.

According to Proekt, Ermira was also involved in purchases of a 120-square-meter apartment in Moscow’s prestigious Airport district, three apartments and a penthouse in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi, as well as two estates in the exclusive Moscow suburb of Usovo Plus.

Each of the properties was purchased for Putin or for members of his inner circle, the investigation found.

Proekt describes the investigation as a “narrative of how Putin’s subordinates ensured a royal life for Alina Kabayeva [Putin’s alleged partner] and her children, while the secret services hid the existence of this family from the entire country.”

Proekt reporters spoke to the “key manager of the business empire of one of the president’s closest friends”, without revealing his name, who was “directly involved in the management of a secret financial network” in which Ermira was part of.

“We used the term ‘to make payments from Ermira’, which meant using Putin’s money to pay for one or another trade deal (in his interest),” the unnamed key manager said.

According to the investigation, the offshore company involved at the same time several people from Putin’s entourage who had no business relations with each other.

Proekt alleges that Putin was also making money from sales of ‘Putinka’ vodka – the brand of which was allegedly invented by ‘Winexim’ company.

The owner reportedly had asked businessman and Putin’s friend Arkady Rottenberg for permission to use his suffix in the vodka’s name. He agreed and the rights to the trademark initially went to the company “Promibex” and after 10 years to its subsidiary “Real Invest”.

In 2021, the brand name went to the company “Baikal-Invest”, a company with an opaque structure, according to Proekt. Most likely, Baikal-Invest is also controlled by the people of Rottenberg.

“We cannot claim that the new owner of the vodka brand also has links with Ermira and ultimately with Putin, but what we know exactly is that behind “Baikal-Invest” are the same managers of Rottenberg, who are associated with other projects of Putin’s ‘fund’,” the report also said.

Putin was making money via Putinka vodka

Back in the 2000s, “distribution networks that wanted to market “Putinka” vodka were still taking to Rottenberg bags full of cash – as payment for permission to sell the vodka under the President’s name,” the report said.

And part of this money “was always intended for Putin.” According to figures, between 2004 and 2019, profits from the production, royalties and sales of Putinka-branded drinks could be between US$400-500 million.

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