Russian President Vladimir Putin is notoriously secretive – including his finances, which remain a mystery.
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Putin made headlines this week after meeting with President Trump on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan. Putin hailed his meeting with Trump Friday as “businesslike and pragmatic.”
"We addressed almost the entire list of issues of mutual concern," he said. "Of course, we talked about the situation in various parts of the world. Overall, these consultations were useful."
The Russian president, who is notoriously private, is also secretive about his net worth. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is the reigning richest man in the world with a net worth of around $131 billion. However, former Hermitage Capital Management CEO Bill Browder, an opponent of Putin, estimated the Russian leader’s net worth at $200 billion.
“I estimate that [Putin] has accumulated $200 billion of ill-gotten gains,” Browder told the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2017.
“[Putin] keeps his money in the West and all of his money in the West is potentially exposed to asset freezes and confiscation,” Browder said. “Therefore, he has a significant and very personal interest in finding a way to get rid of the Magnitsky sanctions.”
Browder was referring to the Magnitsky Act, which Congress passed in 2012 to impose travel and financial sanctions on top Russian officials, including prosecutors. Several other countries have since adopted similar legislation. The legislation was named after Sergei Magnitsky, Browder’s former employee who died in a Russian prison. Magnitsky, a 37-year-old lawyer who alleged he had uncovered $230 million in tax fraud by Russian officials, died in 2009 while in pre-trial detention.
Previously, a former Kremlin adviser, Stanislav Belkovsky, claimed in 2007 that Putin was worth at least $40 billion.
“At least $40 billion,” Belkovsy told the Guardian at the time.“Maximum we cannot know. I suspect there are some businesses I know nothing about.”
The Central Commission of the Russian Federation reported Putin earned about $673,000 between 2011 and 2016, putting his annual salary at around $112,000, according to The Washington Post. He also owned an apartment in St. Petersburg and two cars. Putin claims his income came from his “official salary and a military pension, as well as income from saving accounts and shares,” according to The Washington Post.
It’s been hard to prove Putin’s net worth, but some clues have shed some light on how much he could be worth. He has been seen wearing expensive clothes and watches, according to The New York Times. A palace on Russia’s Black Sea was reportedly built for Putin’s personal use, according to the BBC.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s wealth has always been a mystery but some believe he could be the richest man in the world. (AP)
How did Putin amass his alleged fortune? Some critics, like Browder, believed he has used his leadership to accumulate wealth. He was also rumored to have holdings in oil companies, according to Belkovsky.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.