ROMAN Abramovich is said to have been part of a £2billion scam and had his wealth protected through blackmail and kidnap, a BBC Panorama investigation has found.
The Chelsea owner is reported to have made billions by buying an oil company from the Russian government in a rigged auction in the 90s.
A document obtained by the BBC says Russian authorities wanted to charge Roman Abramovich with fraudCredit: Getty
Mr Abramovich paid around $250million for company Sibneft – but later sold it back to the Russian government for $13billion in 2005.
A document seen by the BBC claims the Russian government was cheated out of $2.7billion in the deal and adds Russian authorities even wanted to charge Roman Abramovich with fraud.
Yuri Skuratov, Russia’s former chief prosecutor, had investigated the deal involving Abramovich and Boris Berezovsky and their links to Boris Yeltsin, who was president at the time.
He told the BBC: “Basically, it was a fraudulent scheme, where those who took part in the privatisation formed one criminal group that allowed Abramovich and Berezovsky to trick the government and not pay the money that this company was really worth.”
But Mr Skuratov was later dismissed from his post in 1999 after images of him in bed with two prostitutes were shown on a state-controlled television station.
The video of Skuratov in bed was broadcast hours after he appeared on television announcing that he had the names of some “fairly well-known” Russian officials who had illegally transferred dirty money to Swiss bank accounts.
The document seen by the BBC explained: “Skuratov was preparing a criminal case for the confiscation of Sibneft on the basis of the investigation of its privatisation.
“The investigation was stopped by President Yeltsin… Skuratov was dismissed from his office.”
Mr Skuratov said: “This whole thing was obviously political, because in my investigations I came very close to the family of Boris Yeltsin, including via this investigation of the Sibneft privatisation.”
The document seen by the BBC is also said to contain details of another rigged auction two years later, involving a Russian oil company called Slavneft.
In 2002, Abramovich formed a partnership with another firm to buy Slavneft, but a rival Chinese company was planning to bid almost twice as much.
The document claims a member of the delegation from a rival Chinese bidder was kidnapped when they arrived for the auction in Moscow and was released after the company declared its withdrawal.
Vladimir Milov, who was Russia’s deputy energy minister in the run up to the Slavneft sale, didn’t comment on the kidnapping story.
But he told the BBC senior political figures had already decided Abramovich’s partnership would win the auction.
He explained: “I said look, the Chinese want to come in and they want to pay a much bigger price.
“They say it doesn’t matter, shut up, none of your business. It’s already decided. Slavneft goes to Abramovich, the price is agreed. The Chinese will be dragged out somehow.”
There is no suggestion that Abramovich knew anything about the kidnapping plot.
His lawyers said the kidnap claim “is entirely unsubstantiated” and he has “no knowledge of such incident”.
Abramovich previously admitted in a UK court that he made corrupt payments to help get the Sibneft deal off the ground.
But his lawyers say there’s no basis for alleging he has amassed very substantial wealth through criminality.
The Russian billionaire was sanctioned by the UK government last week because of his links to Vladimir Putin.
His assets have been frozen and he has been disqualified as a director of Chelsea Football club.
He was seen yesterday in Israel, shortly before boarding a flight to Turkey.
Yury Skuratov, former Prosecutor General of the Russian FederationCredit: Luke Tchalenko
Roman Abramovich sits beside President Vladimir Putin during a meeting with organizers, trustees and benefactors of the Talent and Success Fund in 2016Credit: Alamy
Abramovich pictured in 1999Credit: Rex
Russian president Boris Yeltsin pictured in 1992Credit: Alamy
The Insidexpress is now on Telegram and Google News. Join us on Telegram and Google News, and stay updated.