As far as Russian President Vladimir Putin is concerned, the U.S. government is behind all the revelations exposed by the recently released Panama Papers. During a media forum organized by the Russian Popular Front, Putin was asked about the Panama Papers. In response, he declared that the “United States are behind all this.”
Recently, Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks made a similar allegation. According to the organization, the Panama Papers’ attack on Putin was produced by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which happens to be funded by the United States Agency for International Development or USAID.
Moreover, the attack against Putin’s inner circle was said to have been funded by wealthy American businessman George Soros, who also funds the OCCRP. In the controversial papers, Putin’s name has been linked to billionaire Rotenberg brothers who had been his close friends since childhood.
According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Boris and Arkady Rotenberg had amassed their fortune as they were awarded a number of contracts with state and state-owned companies as Putin rose to power. These include one for about $7 billion during the Sochi Olympic games. In 2014, the brothers received sanctions from both U.S. government and European Union in retaliation to Putin’s actions in Ukraine.
Before the sanctions had been put in place, however, companies belonging to Arkady received government contracts involving a natural gas pipeline between Russia and Europe. The said contracts amount to about $40 billion. Around the same time, huge payments were received by this Putin network through anonymous companies. The said companies were found to belong to Arkady.
Meanwhile, loans worth over $231 million from these Rotenberg companies were found to have gone to a company in the British Virgin Islands created by a manager at Bank Rossiya. The said bank has been identified by the U.S. as “Putin’s personal cashbox.”
At the same time, Putin’s relationship with a cellist named Sergei Roldugin also came up in the Panama Papers. Records have been uncovered to reveal that Roldugin is the listed owner of offshore companies that have received millions of dollars in payments. Moreover, it is believed he also helped funnel at least $2 billion using banks and shell companies.
During the forum, Putin stressed that there is no corruption involved among his friends. He also reminded his audience that Rolgudin is the National Artist of Russia, and that he is “proud of him in general.” Putin also said that as far as he knows, Rolgudin did “have a go at business.” However, he is a mere minority shareholder and “makes some money out of it, but not billions of dollars of course.”
Moreover, the Russian president said that his artist friend is spending most of his money buying musical instruments, which he then brings back to Russia. At the same time, Rolgudin has been busy transferring the said instruments to state institutions’ ownership. Putin stressed that accusations made by the U.S. against him and his associates are all “nonsense.”
Recently, WikiLeaks also expressed frustration that all 11.5 million documents in the Panama Papers have not been fully disclosed.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) April 6, 2016
Also read: Panama Papers Explained In Simpler Terms