Speed Reads

organized crime

One of Putin’s closest friends was just implicated in a massive money laundering scheme

One of the largest leaks of banking transactions ever — obtained by the Sarajevo-based Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the Lithuanian news site 15min.ltrevealed a nearly $9 billion global money laundering scheme allegedly constructed by Troika Dialog, Russia's largest investment bank.

OCCRP's investigation singles out one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's oldest friends, cellist Sergei Roldugin, who allegedly received $69 million, as one of the scheme's main beneficiaries, Radio Free Europe reports. Roldugin was also implicated following the release of the infamous Panama Papers in 2016. Roldugin has denied any wrongdoing.

The scheme, dubbed the "Troika Laundromat," functioned between 2006 and 2013 and consisted of at least 75 interconnected offshore companies all under the direction of Troika Dialog. The ownership of the offshore companies, The Guardian reports, was managed by "nominees," or stand-ins (usually ethnic Armenians living in Moscow), whose names appear on signed contracts. The nominees include construction workers and a beauty salon owner.

It's unclear whether the head of Troika Dialog, Russian-Armenian investment banker Ruben Vardanyan who also has ties to Putin, was aware of the illicit activities, the OCCRP said.

Paul Radu, OCCRP's co-founder, told RFE that the Troika Laundromat is "just the tip of the iceberg" and that there are many other similar schemes on a global scale. Read more about the investigation at Radio Free Europe and The Guardian.