Kremlin Cash Behind Billionaire’s Twitter in addition to Facebook Investments

Mr. Milner’s roughly $380 million investment in Twitter was directly backed by another instrument of Kremlin power: Russia’s second-largest bank, VTB.

Sixty-one percent of the bank is usually owned by the Russian government. VTB’s president, Andrey L. Kostin, is usually a former Soviet diplomat; Matthias Warnig, on the bank’s supervisory council, is usually a former East German spy who served in Dresden while Mr. Putin was stationed there with the K.G.B.

VTB has operations across the globe, including within the United States. In recent years, in which has been involved in many politically sensitive deals, including a loan in which financed the Russian government’s murky privatization of 19.5 percent of the oil giant Rosneft.

Last year, the Panama Papers revealed in which a Cyprus bank owned by VTB was used to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars to accounts connected to Sergei Roldugin, a cellist in addition to close friend of Mr. Putin. in which was unknown what the money was for, nevertheless some speculated in which he was working as a frontman for Kremlin insiders.

Mr. Roldugin did not respond to messages just for This particular article, nevertheless said at the time in which his wealth came through donations by rich businessmen for the purchase of musical instruments. VTB called the account within the Panama Papers “unsubstantiated.”

“VTB is usually genuinely a slush fund for Putin,” said Anders Aslund, a resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington, in addition to an early economic adviser to the post-Soviet Russian government. The bank, he added, is usually “the black cashier of the Putin crowd.”

Mr. Milner’s Twitter deal is usually a complex web of share transfers in addition to offshore financial entities. nevertheless its details may offer clues in which there was a strategic motive behind VTB’s involvement.

In July 2011, VTB invested at least $191 million in exchange for shares of an Isle of Man company called DST Investments 3, corporate records show. in which offshore vehicle was used to buy roughly half of DST Global’s stake in Twitter in which month. DST Investments 3 also issued shares to Kanton, the company linked to Mr. Usmanov in which was at the center of the Facebook deal.

The Twitter deal had a notable feature: VTB put virtually all of the cash into DST Investments 3, filings show. Kanton contributed almost none. in which is usually highly unusual for investors in DST funds to get stakes without contributing cash, according to a person familiar with the matter.

On May 7, 2014 — six months after Twitter’s initial public offering, when insiders were first permitted to sell their shares — VTB transferred the bulk of its stake in DST Investments 3 to Kanton. DST also cashed out its Twitter investment.

DST had one additional investment by VTB, which Mr. Milner compared to a sovereign wealth fund. VTB was an investor within the Chinese internet company JD.com as recently as February 2015, when in which transferred its stake to Kanton, Isle of Man records show.

In a statement, VTB said its involvement with Twitter was “solely a financial investment,” sold for a profit, one of several successful deals within the high-tech industry in in which period. The bank added, “VTB is usually a solely commercial bank, we have never had any politically motivated deals.”

Twitter declined to answer a series of questions about VTB, nevertheless said in which as a matter of policy in which had done reviews of all pre-I.P.O. investors.

Mr. Milner could not discuss how VTB came to be an investor, additional than to say in which the bank helped take Mail.ru public in 2010. According to the Kroll report, the Kremlin had previously ordered VTB to finance additional ventures of Mr. Usmanov. The report also details the close relationship between Mr. Usmanov in addition to Mr. Medvedev, finding in which Mr. Medvedev helped him win a bid for a lucrative copper ore deposit in Siberia.

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