Financial records and tax documents reviewed by the Washington Post and other media outlets reveal that a former cleaner who is alleged to be the onetime mistress of Russian President Vladimir Putin—and the mother of his supposed 18-year-old daughter—bought a lavish $4 million apartment in Monaco through an offshore shell company in the British Virgin Islands, created just weeks after she gave birth to the girl.
The multi-million outlay in 2003 by Svetlana Krivonogikh, now 46, begs questions of how the woman from humble origins netted not only a pad in a building advertised as “highly sought after by the world’s wealthiest,” but also stakes in a Russian bank and ski resort both linked to Putin, along with a yacht. Krivonogikh also used a Monaco financial services firm that was cozy with Putin’s billionaire friends. (Proekt, an online Russian investigative outlet, was banned from Russia after outing Krivonogikh’s alleged link to Putin in an investigation last year. The Kremlin denied the story.)
The latest revelation about Putin’s alleged paramour comes as part of a leak of financial documents of the global political elite called the Pandora Papers. A total of 11.9 million files exposed the money secrets of 35 world leaders, including “current and former presidents, prime ministers, and heads of state,” reports the Guardian, as well as the “secret finances of government ministers, judges, mayors and military generals in more than 90 countries.”
The papers also reveal that King Abdullah II of Jordan owns property via offshore companies in Malibu, D.C., and London worth a total of $100 million, even as his country struggles financially. (Abdullah told the Guardian there was nothing untoward about his property purchases, but the country blocked the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ website just before the Pandora papers were released.) One of the King’s homes in California boasts an infinity pool, nine bathrooms, and a private theater.
Similarly, the Aliyev family—rulers of Azerbaijan, which has long been mired in alleged corruption scandals and accusations of human-rights abuses—snatched up properties in the UK totaling almost £400 million, and even sold one off to the Queen’s crown estate.
And the Pandora Papers reveal that even as the 2016 Panama Papers leak shut down the law firm Mossack Fonseca, some of the super-rich “simply transferred their companies to rival providers such as another global trust and corporate administrator with a major office in London,” according to the Guardian.
The Guardian, Washington Post, and other media outlets will continue to release findings from the Pandora papers in the near future.