Moscow – One of Vladimir Putin’s closest friends may have used Barclays Bank in London to launder money and dodge sanction, suggested leaked documents.
Billionaire Arkady Rotenberg has known the Russian president since childhood.
Financial restrictions, or sanctions, were imposed on Rotenberg by the US and the EU in 2014, which means Western banks could face serious consequences for doing business with him.
Barclays says it met all its legal and regulatory duties.
A leak of confidential files – banks’ “suspicious activity reports” – reveal how companies believed to be controlled by Rotenberg kept their secret accounts.
In 2014, the US hit Russia with economic sanctions following the annexation of Crimea in Ukraine.
The Treasury Department designated Rotenberg, 68, and his brother Boris, 63, “members of the Russian leadership’s inner circle”.
The brother had sparred and trained in the same judo gym as Putin when they were young and in recent years, Rotenberg’s companies have built roads, gas pipeline and a power station through contracts awarded by the Russian state.
The US Treasury also said the brothers “provided support to Putin’s pet projects” and “made millions of dollars in contracts for Gazoprom and the Sochi Winter Olympics awarded to them by Putin”.
The aim of the sanctions is to cut off named people from the entire Western financial system, yet the Rotenbergs appear to have continued to move cash through the US and UK.