It is “the most comprehensive public database of oligarch assets to date,” according to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project
† who partnered with 27 media outlets to launch the tracker. The tool is interactive and shows the “vast wealth kept outside of Russia by oligarchs and key figures close to the Russian president”.
The research project uncovered more than 150 assets worth approximately $17 billion, including properties, private jets, company stocks, yachts, mansions and more. Journalists discovered these assets by searching land records, company records and offshore leaks.
“Russia under Vladimir Putin is controlled by a very small group of people, who keep him in power while taking advantage of his patronage system at the expense of the Russian people,” OCCRP publisher Drew Sullivan said in a press release.
That system has come under scrutiny since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, as Western governments have tried to freeze Putin’s and the oligarchs’ overseas assets — and prevent them from traveling. The purpose is twofold: sanctions are both a punishment for the Russian ruling class and a club to try and force Putin to withdraw.
According to The Guardian, which is part of the project, the idea arose in February just before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The project kicked off with “a list of 35 individuals named by imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny last year as ‘major drivers and beneficiaries of the Kremlin’s kleptocracy’.”
Just three weeks after the invasion, “27 of those individuals are subject to sanctions in the US and Europe. Another seven are blacklisted in Canada,” the Guardian wrote.
One of the people on that list of 35 is Roman Abramovich, a 55-year-old who is estimated to be worth $13.5 billion. Although he has not been sanctioned by the UK and has denied any ties to Putin, Abramovich recently announced that he is selling his Chelsea Football Club, which he acquired in 2003. OCCRP’s database shows that he has at least $7 billion in assets, including an estate in the posh French Riviera, a private Bombardier jet and several properties scattered around London.
Others included in the database are businessman Alisher Usmanov, Igor Sechin (CEO of Russian oil giant Rosneft) and Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire who made his fortune in the aluminum industry.
The OCCRP has released other revealing disclosures in the past, including a damning report on Credit Suisse detailing clients including criminals, alleged human rights abusers and parties facing sanctions. The Swiss bank pushed back on their report.