Putin Family Split Offers Peek at Secret Dealings of Russia Inc.
During his courtship and marriage, Kirill Shamalov catapulted into the ranks of the super-rich with a little help from some of the closest allies of his father-in-law: Russian President Vladimir Putin.
But now Shamalov’s matrimonial alliance with Putin’s youngest daughter, Katerina Tikhonova, is over, four people familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity. The son of an old Putin pal is back working as a senior executive for the same petrochemical giant, Sibur, where his rise and fall as a multibillion-dollar owner coincided with his stint in Russia’s First Family.
The reversal of fortune offers a rare glimpse into the secretive ways Putin’s inner circle mixes family, friends and finance. How and why riches are divvied up is the subject of intense scrutiny in the U.S., where investigators are looking for more targets to penalize for Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election.
Shamalov’s brief tenure as a captain of industry started in 2012, around the time he was preparing to wed. Sibur’s main owners, Leonid Mikhelson and Gennady Timchenko, promoted their vice president for business administration to deputy chief executive officer and then awarded him 4.3 percent of the company. In 2014, with a loan from Gazprombank, he acquired another 17 percent from Timchenko for about $2.2 billion. He was 32.
Then Sibur announced last April that Shamalov had sold the shares he bought from Timchenko to Mikhelson. Though the details of the deal and the reasoning behind it were never disclosed, a person familiar with the transaction said Shamalov made “zero” from the sale because he was only allowed to hold those shares in a kind of trust as a Putin family member. That ownership privilege ended when the marriage did, three of the people said.