The Panama Papers revealed a myriad of offshore ventures, potentially linked to a well-known Russian senator from the Côte d’Azur. With the help of an opaque edition, Souleyman Kerimov could have made colossal transfers of funds. The international consortium of journalists who analyzed data from a massive document leak identified a dozen wire transfers in the space of two years. For a total amount of 700 million dollars!
A retiree, a tattoo artist, a beautician… All the nominees
However, Kerimov’s name never appears. These money movements were carried out by companies based in the British Virgin Islands, obviously run by nominees. Only a tattoo artist from Lucerne would have authorized the transfer of almost 200 million. Most of the front men of these front companies are from this small Swiss town. Our colleagues at the Tribune de Genève have identified about twenty of them. Among them is a beautician, a pensioner, and even the political leader of a Swiss microparty who, on paper, found himself bombed as director of the holding company that owns Polyus, Russia’s largest gold mine!
However, Polyus does belong to Senator Kerimov. His own son Saïd announced just a few days ago that he was resigning from his board of directors and that his family had reduced his share in the mining company to less than 50%. It must be said that father and son have just entered the black list of oligarchs sanctioned by the European Union. Therefore, his immense fortune is in danger of freezing. However, as long as he can locate it. Which could be very complicated.
90 million euros in bribes for a villa in Cap d’Antibes
In any case, the examination of the Panama Papers did not make it possible to identify the final destination of the hundreds of millions of dollars transferred by the network of Lucerne nominees. On the other hand, it turns out that many of them work or have worked for Alexander Studhalter. This Swiss businessman had been placed in preventive detention in 2018 by a Nice magistrate. To avoid the same fate, Souleyman Kerimov had to pay a record deposit of €40 million!
At that time, the French justice was investigating the purchase of several villas in Cap d’Antibes. Again, on paper, the Swiss Studhalter was the owner of this 12,000 m2 land complex on the banks of the Big Blue. In reality, investigators suspected that the Russian senator was the real beneficiary. However, the value of one of these houses, the villa Hier, had been deliberately undervalued by the French tax authorities. Declared 35 million euros, the acquisition had been the subject of a bribe of 90 million paid directly into accounts in Switzerland.
Spectacular Ferrari accident on the Promenade des Anglais
Souleyman Kerimov has never been sent to trial. Justice then preferred to compromise. In his defense, the Russian senator claimed to be solely the tenant of these villas owned by the SwiRu group led by… Alexander Studhalter. Again and again this Swiss businessman whose name already appeared on the gray card of the Ferrari Enzo that, in November 2016, had crashed on the Promenade des Anglais. Even if it was Kerimov who was driving.
Severely burned, the multimillionaire who always appears in gloved hands still bears the consequences. Unless it’s to leave no traces.