13:58 May. 13, 2016
Radio Liberty publishes the list of ex-Soviet elites properties in London
Political and business elites from the former Soviet Union will face more public scrutiny of their expensive real estate holdings in Britain under a new plan announced on May 12 by Prime Minister David Cameron.
Under the initiative, aimed at cracking down on inflows of dirty money, foreign companies that own or buy real estate in Britain would have to sign up to a public registry disclosing the properties' beneficial ownership. It's a technique that uses secretive offshore companies to shield the true owners' identities.
Precisely how the new rules will be enforced is unclear. But with numerous wealthy officials and businesspeople from Russia and other former Soviet countries having snapped up pricey properties in London in recent years, the initiative could ultimately force them into the spotlight.
Here's a look at some of these individuals and their relatives whose possible ownership of British real estate could be revealed under the new rules:
Rotenberg's father and uncle -- Boris and Arkady, respectively -- have been judo partners of Putin's and control sprawling industrial conglomerates believed to be worth billions of dollars. Navalny and other anticorruption activists have linked Roman Rotenberg to a USD 4.7 million London mansionregistered to a Cypriot firm called Loktan Services Limited. Reportedly a British citizen, Roman Rotenberg was sanctioned by Washington last year for alleged involvement in evasion of Ukraine- and Russia-related U.S. sanctions.
For seven years, mystery and wild speculation swirled about the ownership of London's largest private house, known as Witanhurst. A British Virgin Islands-registered firm called Safran Holdings Limited purchased the house for 50 million pounds (USD 72.2 million) in 2008 and rumors had long linked it to Yelena Baturina, Russia's richest woman and wife of former Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov, and even to President Vladimir Putin. But an article published last year in The New Yorker magazine confirmed that the home is owned by the family of billionaire Andrei Guryev, who served 12 years in Russia's upper house of parliament.