Don’t miss a thing! Sign up to the Daily Star’s newsletter
The escalating situation between Ukraine and Russia has turned the spotlight back on the wealth of the country's president, Valdimir Putin, who – by some accounts – is the world's richest man and even has a solid gold toilet.
Putin, who has been in power in Russia for 17 years, has amassed a murky personal wealth and multiple homes, fleets of yachts, cars and even secret presidential palaces worth billions of pounds – despite being on a modest official salary of around £100,000 per year.
Some reports even suggest that he could even be the world's richest man, with more money than Tesla founder Elon Musk and Amazon's Jeff Bezos – not that he has declared much of it.
Former Russian government adviser Stanislav Belkovsky recently estimated Putin's fortune to be in the region of £51 billion, while US hedge fund manager Bill Browder told The Washington Post it was more like £147 billion.
A recent investigation by Forbes explored theories as to how the politician amassed such an embarrasment of riches.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was once believed to be the richest man in Russia with an estimated £11 billion fortune, was thrown in jail by Putin in 2003 on charges of fraud and tax evasion.
Khodorkovsky, who has always denied the charges, made his money through oilfield ownership. He was jailed just months after criticising Putin at a meeting, stating that Russia was corrupt.
Mr Browder believes Mr Putin may have used this arrest to cut deals with all the other wealthy Russian oligarchs.
“The deal was: ‘You give me 50% of your wealth and I’ll let you keep the other 50%,’” Mr Browder told Forbes.
“If you don’t, he’ll take 100% of your wealth and throw you in jail.”
Mr Browder described Putin to the US Senate Judiciary Committee in 2017 as “one of the richest men in the world”.
Vladimir Putin's security stepped in after Conor McGregor actions during meeting
“I estimate that he has accumulated $200 billion of ill-gotten gains from these types of operations over his 17 years in power,” Mr Browder said.
Another theory is that the Russian leader used nepotism to hand favours to his close circle, then gleaning money from ventures he helped create for them.
Kirill Shamalov, who was married to Putin's daughter Katerina Tikhonova, became a billionaire at 34-years-old after being allowed to borrow money from private banking company Gazprombank so he could buy a 17 per cent stake in the company Sibur from one of Mr Putin’s friends, Gennady Timchenko.
Inside 50,000-seater Euro 2012 stadium abandoned in Ukraine amid Russia war tension
Bloomberg columnist Leonid Bershidsky suggested Putin actually doesn't have much personal wealth, because he hasn't much need for it.
“He has the whole country at his beck and call,” Bershidsky wrote in 2013.
“It is enough for Putin to snap his fingers, and state-owned companies will cede assets to his friends at bargain-basement prices. A whisper from him, and wealthy private businessmen will chip in for the lavish refurbishment of a presidential residence.”
However, some reports suggest the supremo has up to £160billion in wealth, including a personal stash of £50 million.
He has used some of this wealth to acquire, according to political critic Boris Nemtsov, four yachts, 43 planes, 7,000 cars and 15 helicopters – including a jet with a gold toilet worth an astonishing £50,000.
Among the cars is a bulletproof fleet of limos, estimated to be worth $192 million (£141 million), according to a 2018 Newsweek report.
Nemtsov said Putin even has a watch collection which is worth £500,000.
One of his yachts, the £73.2million vessel named Graceful, was spotted leaving a German port earlier this month before Western sanctions on Russia.
Putin is also said to own a £1 billion mega mansion at Gelendzhik on the Black Sea. Jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny's team claimed they found thousands of snaps of the secretive complex.
To stay up to date with all the latest news, make sure you sign up to one of our newsletters here.
Among the photos was one appearing to confirm there is a stripper's pole in the complex.
It also reportedly has an underground ice-hockey rink, a private theatre, a vineyard, and territory the size of “39 Monacos”.
The palace also has a marble swimming pool decorated with statues of Greek gods, a wine cellar and a theatre.
In 2017 it was reported that Putin bought Villa Sellgren, a huge home built on an island in the Vyborg Bay, around 12 miles from the Russian border with Finland.
One of Putin's jets boasts is said to boast a gym, a fully-stocked bar and three bedrooms – but it's also kitted out with functional assets you need when you're commanding an army.
The plane has a full communications room Putin can use if he needs to mobilise troops while he's in the air.
Viktor Tatarintsev, the Kremlin’s ambassador to Sweden, said last week that Russia doesn't "give a s***" about sanctions from the West, and given his personal wealth – it is likely Putin will lead a comfortable life either way.
- Vladimir Putin
Source: Read Full Article