Bankers who helped ‘Putin’s wallet’ sift through millions convicted in Switzerland

Putin shakes hands with his close friend Roldugin during a rally in 2016. ANP / AFP image

Putin shakes hands with his close friend Roldugin during a rally in 2016.Image ANP / AFP

Roldugin opened accounts at Gazprombank in Zurich in 2014. It is the investment bank of the Russian gas giant of the same name. The millions Roldugin deposited in the account up to and including 2016 may not have been his. In Switzerland, it is mandatory to research the origin of deposits in case of doubt. The total amount Roldugin has deposited is around €30m.

Who is the true owner of the disputed millions has never been established with certainty. It is suspected that Roldugin acts as the financial boss of Russian President Putin. The men are good friends. Roldugin is the godfather of Maria, Putin’s eldest daughter.

About the Author
Joram Bolle is general rapporteur of by Volkskrant.

The judge does not blame the four bankers, three Russians and a Swiss, for not having found the owner of the money. However, they should have established that the origin of the funds could not be determined. Given the political situation in Russia and the fact that Russian oligarchs were known to hoard money overseas through shady schemes, bankers might have suspected the deal was untrustworthy. .

It wasn’t until 2016 that Roldugin was questioned, despite not being known as a businessman and having opened an account at an investment bank. The account was closed after no response.

Cellist Roldugin performing in Moscow in 2016. ImageGetty Images

Cellist Roldugin during a performance in Moscow in 2016.ImageGetty Images

Roldugin is also known as “Putin’s wallet”. The cellist himself said in 2014 The New York Times that he “has no millions”. At the time, however, he had $350 million under his belt. In 2016, the Panama Papers revealed that Roldugin was involved in a vast network of offshore companies possibly linked to Putin.

The bankers were fined 741,000 Swiss francs (744,000 euros). However, it is conditional, with a trial period of two years. However, they are appealing the decision. They think it was conceivable that Roldugin himself was wealthy.

Strikingly enough, the lawyers invoked the same defense as the prosecution, but with a different conclusion: Roldugin was friends with Putin and therefore had access to “special financial resources” that enabled him to build up a substantial fortune.

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