Vladimir Putin has spent his presidency crushing dissent, jailing journalists and opposition leaders, and waging a relentless war against Ukraine.
Throughout the increasingly dark years of his rule, some of his most loyal enablers have been Russian oligarchs — above all, his childhood friends Boris and Arkady Rotenberg.
The two brothers became key allies of the Russian state as their vast enterprises executed megaprojects including the Sochi Olympics and the bridge to annexed Crimea. In return, Putin’s government helped make them billionaires.
Though they were sanctioned by the West in 2014, little seemed to change in the Rotenbergs’ world-spanning, ultra-wealthy lifestyle. They managed to hang onto yachts, mansions, and other luxury assets — and even today, they’re still worth billions.
How is this possible?
The Rotenberg Files, an investigative series based on a new leak of over 50,000 emails and documents from a Russian management firm that worked for the brothers, provides unique insight.
Dozens of journalists from 17 outlets spent months analyzing and reporting on the archive, obtained by IStories and OCCRP from a source who cannot be identified for their safety.
This unprecedented access reveals the complex strategies the Rotenbergs used to preserve their holdings — and pulls back the curtain on the Western lawyers, bankers, and corporate service providers without whom they would have been helpless.
The rare glimpse provided by this project serves as a warning: All the sanctions in the world will accomplish little when there are willing enablers in every Western capital.
June 20, 2023 Published by The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.