Wealthy Russians now view inclusion on the Forbes list of the world’s richest people as toxic, rather than a cause for bragging rights, the magazine has said, after the US treasury department used it to compile its own “name and shame” list of Kremlin-linked oligarchs.
RBK, a Russian newspaper, reported on Wednesday that the business people included on the “Putin list” – those who made their money corruptly from their ties with the Russian president – had lost a combined total of $1.06bn (£750m) in the 24 hours after its publication.
The biggest losses were incurred by Vagit Alekperov, the owner of Lukoil, Russia’s biggest privately owned oil company, who lost $226m. Alekperov’s total wealth is estimated by Forbes at more than $14bn. Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea football club, lost $60m from his total fortune of about $9bn, RBK reported.
“The Forbes list has been transformed from a list of vanity into a list of toxicity,” wrote Nikolai Mazurin, the editor-in-chief of Forbes’ Russian edition. He complained that some wealthy Russians who had previously been happy to speak to the magazine were now giving it the cold shoulder.
The US Treasury confirmed to Forbes it had used the magazine’s figures on Russia’s wealthiest business people when drawing up its list. Although those included are not subject to immediate sanctions, such as visa bans and asset freezes, they are likely to face additional complications when dealing with US and European banks.
Mazurin said a number of people on the US list could in no way be described as Kremlin-linked oligarchs. These included Arkady Volozh, the founder and chief executive of the search engine Yandex, and Valentin Gapontsev, an American citizen whose US-based IPG Photonics company produces fibre-optic lasers.
RBK said it was impossible to prove exactly how the US list had affected the wealthy Russians, some of whom experienced a a boost to their fortunes; Alisher Usmanov, who owns a large stake in Arsenal football club, was worth $16m more after its publication, according to the newspaper.
The Guardian reported on Tuesday that a “name and shame” list of Russian oligarchs was compiled by US government agencies but then cancelled last week by a senior administration official, according to a Russia expert who was consulted about the list. It was then replaced by the all-inclusive version copied from Forbes.
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