(NewsNation) — Mansions, vacation homes, private jets and yachts are the toys of Russian oligarchs. They are the now-wealthy Russians who took over industries once owned by the Soviet Union regime, industries such as steel and oil.
They are loyal to President Vladimir Putin because he helped facilitate their fortune.
“It is common knowledge that many of their profits and wealth have come from nefarious activities,” sanctions expert Tim White said. “The fact that they control that much power makes them a threat to the United States.”
Since the invasion of Ukraine, more than a dozen have had assets frozen and boats seized. It’s all an effort to put pressure on Putin to scale back his war machine.
“Many of these oligarchs have spent a lifetime doing nothing but hiding assets and dodging one regulation or another,” said John Quelch, dean of the Miami Herbert Business School.
Perhaps the highest-profiled oligarch is Roman Abramovich. He is the current owner of Chelsea soccer team, with stakes in steel giant Evraz. He’s also the owner of the 533-foot yacht known as “Eclipse,” the world’s second largest yacht, with a price tag of $400 million.
“Many of these individuals will have ownerships in LLCs, shell companies, private businesses that are located in tax havens and jurisdictions that do not have proper anti-money laundering regimes.”
White says many oligarch assets are in different names. The smokescreens give them cover to potentially hold assets, like oil, that have actually gone up in value since the war began.
“These oligarchs could actually be profiting from the conflict,” Quelch said.