Sorry, No Impact: Despite Western Sanctions, Russian Oligarch Got Richter While U.S. Billionaires Lost!

Wester Sanctions have no impact on Russian oligarchs
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In the wake of the “crazy war” in Ukraine, the Russian oligarchs are the strategic focus of the Western sanctions aimed at exerting pressure on the Russian government. Most recently, Oleg Tinkov, an oligarch excommunicated by the Kremlin, has called his former comrades cowards and urged them to take action against Putin. However, according to the latest Forbes statistics, Russian billionaires have become significantly richer since the outbreak of the Ukraine invasion.

The Russian Oligarchs And The Western Sanctions

The term “Russian oligarchs” is often used to describe a group of business magnates who emerged in the post-Soviet era, amassing substantial wealth and influence. Their close ties to the political elite, particularly Russian President Vladimir Putin, have made them a target for Western sanctions, particularly in the context of recent geopolitical events.

Since the start of the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Western sanctions have been imposed on 39 Russian billionaires. Before the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Forbes had listed 11 Russian billionaires sanctioned by the U.S., EU, or U.K. So the total number of Russian Oligarchs on the Sanctions List seems to be around 50 by July 2023.

According to the Russian Asset Tracker, more than $17bn of global assets – including offshore bank accounts, yachts, private jets, and luxury properties – have been linked to 35 oligarchs and Russian officials alleged to have close ties to Vladimir Putin.

Several sanctioned Russian billionaires have filed lawsuits against the sanctions. 15 sanctioned oligarchs, including Roman Abramovich, Alexey Mordashov, and Alisher Usmanov, have filed lawsuits in the EU to seek the removal of sanctions. Oleg Deripaska filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court in June over sanctions dating back to 2018, while Alexander Abramov sued Australia over the country’s sanctions in June.

Sanctioned Russian Oligarchs Recovered

Network of Russian Oligarch Vladimir Potanin

The Ukraine war allowed some oligarchs to pick up assets others wanted to dump. The nickel and banking magnate Vladimir Potanin repurchased Russian banking group Rosbank from French firm Société Générale, which had originally purchased it from Potanin in a series of deals from 2006 to 2014. He also snapped up Tinkoff Bank, one of Russia’s largest private banks, from the excommunicated oligarch Oleg Tinkov for an undisclosed amount.

During the Western Sanctions, Potanin’s net worth grew by $6.4 billion from March 2022 to March 2023 thanks to the banks, enough for him to hold onto his rank as Russia’s second-richest person.

Net worth of Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov

For instance, the sanctions have targeted individuals such as Alisher Usmanov, a billionaire with significant interests in English football clubs Arsenal and Everton. He was an early Facebook investor and made his fortune as a Russian metals magnate. His super-yacht “Dilbar,” one of the world’s largest and worth between $600-$735 million, was seized by the German government in 2022. His current net worth is estimated at $14.4 billion.

Roman Abromovich, who owns stakes in Russian steel giant Evraz and nickel producer Norilsk Nickel, is one of the most prominent oligarchs on the sanction lists.

The UK government forced Abramovich to sell Chelsea FC for nearly $5 billion in May 2022 to a group led by American billionaire Todd Boehly; he didn’t get proceeds from the sale. His lawyer has recently argued that the sanctions imposed on him are based more on his fame than on any concrete evidence. His fortune dropped from an estimated $14.3 billion on February 23 to $6.9 billion but recovered to his current net worth of $9.2 billion.

Conclusion: Only Russian Billionaires Got Richer

There are 105 Russian billionaires on Forbes’ 2023 World’s Billionaires List with a collective net worth of $474 billion, up from 83 worth a combined $320 billion in March 2022. Despite the “crazy war” and the Western sanctions, they added $154 billion to their wealth over the past year.

The list of Russian billionaires would have been longer had not five billionaires – DST Global founder Yuri Milner, Revolut founder Nikolay Storonsky, Freedom Finance founder Timur Turlov, and JetBrains co-founders Sergei Dmitriev and Valentin Kipyatkov – renounced their Russian citizenship, Forbes said.

The 39 Russian billionaires sanctioned by Western countries have regained a staggering $104 billion from March 2022 to March 2022 and are down merely 13% since the day before Vladimir Putin’s invasion. Only three saw their wealth decline over that period. Another seven sanctioned billionaires grew their fortunes enough to return to the 2023 ranks of the world’s richest people, having missed out in March 2022.

In contrast, America’s 735 billionaires lost $200 billion between March 2022 and 2023, while China’s richest are down by $300 billion. The net worths for the list were measured using stock prices and exchange rates from March 10, 2023.

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