US federal prosecutors are investigating Russian oligarch Gennady Tymchenko, according to the Wall Street Journal, on the suspicion that funds from allegedly corrupt deals in Russia involving Timchenko were routed through the US financial system.
According to the WSJ, the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, with the assistance of the US Justice Department, is investigating Tymchenko, an oil trader who is also a longstanding associate of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Tymchenko has risen from being head of a major Russian oil refinery at the end of the 1980s to being one of Russia's richest men, with a business empire ranging from oil trading to infrastructure construction.
US officials have previously said that Putin may have investments in Tymchenko's oil trading company Gunvor, apparently referring to investigations by the Russian press. The Tymchenko investigation is also probing whether any of Putin’s personal wealth is involved.
Prosecutors have requested information about the prices at which Gunvor purchased oil from Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft, selling it on to third parties, WSJ sources said.
Tymchenko sold his stake in Guvnor to co-owner Torbjörn Törnqvist earlier in 2014 after being placed under sanctions by the US in connection with Russia's incursion into Crimea.
Gunvor told WSJ it had received no notification of any investigation, and pointed out that it had not bought any crude oil from Rosneft for over two years.
WSJ sources said that the investigation is part of a wider push by US prosecutors against the laundering of proceeds of foreign corruption under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, announced in 2010, which initially targeted allegedly corrupt officials from Africa and the Middle East. In April, US Attorney General Eric Holder announced he had created a specialised team of FBI agents to investigate kleptocracy.
Politically-connected Ukrainian gas trading oligarch Dmitro Firtash was arrested in March in Vienna at the request of the FBI, in connection with alleged bribery in India. He is currently contesting the US extradition request. It is not known whether this was part of the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.
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