Russian billionaires see wealth tumble as tensions escalate | Business and Economy News

As Ukraine conflict intensifies, the fortunes of Russia’s super-rich have shrunk amid sanctions and sinking stock markets.

By Bloomberg

The fortunes of Russia’s super-rich have tumbled $32 billion this year, with the escalating conflict in Ukraine poised to make that wealth destruction much larger.

U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday unleashed sanctions targeting Russia’s sale of sovereign debt abroad and the country’s elites, and said he’s sending an unspecified number of additional U.S. troops to the Baltics in a defensive move to defend NATO countries.

Gennady Timchenko heads the list of Russian billionaires who have seen their fortunes drop, with almost a third of his wealth disappearing this year, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a listing of the world’s 500 richest people.

Timchenko, 69, the son of a Soviet military officer who met and befriended Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin during the early 1990s, now has a fortune of about $16 billion, with the bulk of his wealth derived from a stake in Russia gas producer Novatek, according to Bloomberg’s wealth index.

Fellow Novatek shareholder Leonid Mikhelson’s fortune has tumbled $6.2 billion this year, while Lukoil Chairman Vagit Alekperov’s net worth has declined about $3.5 billion in the same period as the energy company’s stock has slid almost 17%.

Leonid Mikhelson, billionaire and chief executive officer of Novatek PJSC, speaks to attendees at a conference inBillionaire Leonid Mikhelson (pictured) has seen his fortune tumble $6.2bn this year [File: Bloomberg]

The country’s 23 billionaires currently have a net worth of $343 billion, according to the wealth list, down from $375 billion at year-end.

Markets slumped further this week after Putin recognized two separatist republics in Ukraine, leading to Germany halting an energy project with Russia and the U.K. imposing sanctions on five of the country’s banks and three of its wealthy individuals, including Timchenko.

Also on the U.K.’s sanctions list are Boris Rotenberg, 65, and his nephew, Igor, 48, whose families made their fortune through gas-pipeline construction firm Stroygazmontazh.

Igor’s father, Arkady, one of Putin’s former judo sparring partners, sold the pipeline firm in 2019 for about $1.3 billion. He purchased a minority stake from his younger brother Boris five years earlier when both siblings and Timchenko were hit with U.S. sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

Additionally, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday he wouldn’t meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov this week because it “does not make sense” given Russia’s moves in Ukraine.

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