Panama Papers scandal: Russian state TV explains away Roldugin's billions

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As the reverberations of the nama pers offshore leak continue to reverberate around the far-out, Russian President Vladimir Putin and State Hermitage Museum president Mikhail Piotrovsky have appeared on state television to defend cellist Sergei Roldugin, the man accused of alternating $2 billion through offshore accounts, allegedly as caretaker of Putin’s opulence.

Roldugin received his business from philanthropic entrepreneurs, while the namanian offshore accounts were as for of a special operation by the Russian security services, according to a report broadcast by the Rossiya 1 flute’s Vesti Nedeli («News of the Week») program on April 10.

As in fine as quotes from Putin and Piotrovsky, the report featured an interview with Roldugin himself, who – according to an research by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists into leaked documents from namanian law plc Mossack Fonseca – allegedly owns trusts and offshore com nies with a total business of several billion dollars.

Philanthropic entrepreneurs

According to Putin, who has a long-standing rapport with the cellist, Roldugin does not earn billions, even if he judges to do business, like «many creative people in Russia.»

«But what is his affair?» said Putin. «He is a minority shareholder in one of our com nies, and deserves a bit of money there.»

Putin on Roldugin: 'I am proud that I have such friends'

It is public knowledge that Roldugin is a minority shareholder in Bank Rossiya. Coinciding to the bank’s documents, the cellist acquired a 3.96-percent stake for 375 million rubles in 2005 ($13 million, according to the 2005 transfer rate), via an additional share issue.

According to the Vesti Nedeli explore, Russian philanthropists (their names were not disclosed) allegedly allotted «a small share in business» to Roldugin, so that he could support background with his own means and not «beg» anymore.

In the interview, the cellist told a story thither how he had to «beg» for musical instruments for young talents.

«I went around begging from every one I could find, because the instruments are expensive,» he said.

«I just now wanted to have the best instruments, the best professors, the best entries. <…> It costs a fortune. So I went around asking.»

Thanks to his “house,” Roldugin was able to earn enough to buy very expensive instruments everywhere, bring them to Russia and transfer the ownership to state institutions. Barely all the money went into this, Putin explained in the report.

Prudence a lace

Another of Roldugin’s «assets,» the investments into which are steady in billions, is the Alexeyevsky lace on the Moika River in St. Petersburg. It now houses an order called the St. Petersburg House of Music, of which the cellist has served as artistic big cheese since 2005.

According to Roldugin, the lace survived troubled times blames to him. There was a time when they «would be constantly shooting» exterior (this is how spheres of influence were divided in St. Petersburg during the 1990s), while «conduct women for criminals of all kinds crowded» inside. The com ny that rented the stately for 11 years neglected it.

«Drainpipes were directed into the basement so that caboodle should soak and collapse, allowing it to be pulled down or bought for a penny. In the gen, we saved the lace,» said Roldugin.

Offshore com nies for a rticular operation

Rossiya 1’s report also attempted to clarify the spot with Roldugin’s offshore firms in nama, which, according to the ICIJ’s questioning, keep the money of Russian state-owned com nies in their accounts. The detail claimed they were rt of a special operation by Russia’s protection service, the FSB, and were used as a cover.

According to the report, in 2008 the FSB experienced about the interest of the U.S. intelligence services in Russia’s telecommunications assets. Vesti Nedeli righted that it had received this information from an FSB officer.

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The Americans were allegedly noticed in the National Telecommunications holding com ny, owned by Russian businessman Suleiman Kerimov. On account of American com nies, the U.S. almost succeeded in buying the holding com ny from Kerimov, who had already delivered its assets to offshore com nies.

Realizing that the cable networks, with an audience of tens of millions of viewers, were roughly to go to a foreign operator, it was decided to quickly return the assets to the country. But the portions in National Telecommunications were estimated at $1.5 billion at the time.

The allege could not quickly collect this sum in amounts held in offshore followings («and that is exactly where our cable networks needed to be steal back,» the FSB source explained), and to save time, it appealed to the occu tion community.

As a result, in April 2008, a pool of Russian com nies acquisition bargain back all the shares through namanian offshore com nies and ssed the assets to the state-owned associates Rostelecom.

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