Transparency International Russia contacted Russian and international anti-corruption authorities with the request to assess certain information revealed in the “Paradise Papers,” an investigative report based on the documents of offshore registrar Appleby from the Bermuda Islands. These materials were published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists on November 5, and included information on at
least three Russian citizens. We’ve written about Igor Sechin’s ex-wife before. We remind readers that she invested in development projects in Eastern Europe. The signs suggest that Igor Sechin’s income in fact does not match up with what he declares. Marina Sechina never earned any money during her marriage, but right before the divorce her income jumped up to 9 million RUB. According to data from Counter-Focus, after the marriage was terminated she was declared the co-owner of large Russian enterprises. The Paradise Papers uncovered yet another one of Marina Sechina’s investments, involving a firm on the Cayman Islands that invested Sechina’s money through a Maltese straw company. We therefore appealed to the Malta Financial Intelligence Unit to investigate the activities of Marina Sechina and her business partner. We also contacted the Prosecutor General’s Office requesting an investigation into the relationship between Mr. Sechin’s income and expenditures during his tenure as a public official. In addition, we contacted The Federal Bureau of Anti-Corruption of Austria, as Marina Sechina’s business partner was Austrian resident Julius Meinl.
In another section of the Paradise Papers, the focus is on State Duma deputy Aleksey Ezubov. Information on the income of Russian Duma members and their compliance with legislative restrictions and prohibitions is assessed by the State Duma Commission for Monitoring the Validity of Deputy Declarations. We reached out to United Russia to argue for an investigation into the activities of Aleksey Ezubov and their compliance with his party’s statute.
The third and final figure in the scandal is First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov. According to the investigation, he first rented, and ultimately purchased a private plane from Suleyman Kerimov. Around the same time, Kerimov’s business entities recevied state guarantees from the Government of the Russian Federation.
It is particularly interesting to note that Kerimov also purchased shares of PIK Group totaling 38.3%, after which the group received state guarantees, under which Sberbank prolonged its old loans and issued new ones. It is no simple task acquiring state guarantees, and not all major construction players managed to get them during the economic crisis. But at that time the head of the commission issuing them was none other than First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov.
We informed the Prosecutor General’s Office that it should assess whether any of Shuvalov’s transactions constitute a conflict of interest. The Council for Countering Corruption can also help, as it is responsible for regulating conflicts of interest involving high level officials.