Western sanctions | A limited effect on the fortunes of Russian oligarchs

Western economic sanctions have limited effect on the fortunes of the 20 most important Russian oligarchs: they have lost 16% of their fortune in the past 13 months, according to figures from the magazine Forbes.

Posted at 5:00 a.m.

Vincent Brousseau-Pouliot

Vincent Brousseau-Pouliot
The Press

Sanctions hit the fortunes of the oligarchs the hardest in early March (the war in Ukraine started last February 24). In total, these 20 Russian oligarchs would have seen their overall fortune increase from 301.8 billion US in April 2021 to 174.1 billion US on March 11, 2022, according to Forbes. This was a drop of 42% (-127.7 billion). Forbeswhich published its annual ranking of billionaires on Tuesday, attributes this decline in the fortunes of Russian oligarchs to the war in Ukraine, economic sanctions by Western countries and the fall of the Russian ruble.

But for three and a half weeks, the fortune of the 20 most important Russian oligarchs has increased significantly: it went from 174.1 billion (as of March 11) to 252.6 billion (as of April 5), according to Forbes.

One factor has contributed to this rise: the Russian ruble has regained much of its value lost since the start of the war in Ukraine. At its trough on March 10 (one Russian ruble = 0.72 US cents), the price of the ruble had fallen by 46% compared to February 17 (one ruble = 1.33 US cents), a week before the start of the war. But on Wednesday (around 3:30 p.m.), the ruble was trading at 1.21 US cents. Currently, it’s only down 9% since Feb. 17. However, some oligarchs hold part of their assets in Western countries, and the rate of the ruble does not generally affect these assets.

Over 13 months, the fortune of the top 20 of the oligarchs thus went from 301.8 billion US (in March 2011) to 252.6 billion (as of April 5, 2022). This is a decrease of 16%. According to these figures of Forbesthe economic sanctions of Western countries therefore have a limited effect on the fortunes of the Russian oligarchs.

Most Influential

There is no official list of the most influential oligarchs. The list of The Press of the 20 most important Russian oligarchs includes 16 of the 20 richest Russians in April 2021 according to Forbesin addition to 4 other very influential Russian billionaires (banker Petr Aven, Oleg Deripaska, banker Yuri Kovalchuk and Arkady Rotenberg, former judo partner of President Vladimir Putin).

Nineteen of the twenty Russian oligarchs have seen their fortunes decline over the past 13 months. Only Andrei Melnichenko, who controls petrochemicals firm Eurochem and coal producer Suek, saw his personal wealth rise 18% to $21.1 billion, according to Forbes.


Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich in May 2017

Overall, the last year has been very profitable for the wealthiest people on the planet: 18 of the 20 richest people in the world in April 2021 would have seen their fortunes increase over the past year, according to Forbes. (This top 20 worldwide comes from the United States (13), France (2), China (2), India, Spain and Mexico.)


Russian oligarch Alexey Mordashov, in June 2021

The richest Russian oligarch in April 2021, Alexey Mordashov, is the one whose fortune has decreased the most for 13 months: it has decreased by 10.4 billion (-36%) to currently stand at 18.7 billion. . Mr Mordashov controls Russian steel giant Severstal. He is the seventh richest Russian oligarch.

The most well-known oligarch in the West, the owner of the Chelsea soccer club Roman Abramovich, has seen his fortune drop from 14.5 billion to 8.2 billion, a drop of 43% in 13 months.

Assets outside of Russia

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, several of the Russian oligarchs have been subject to sanctions by certain Western countries. Russia’s economy is also hit by sanctions. The Moscow Stock Exchange was closed for almost a month. When the Stock Exchange closed on February 28, the Moscow Stock Exchange index plunged sharply and posted a negative return of -45% since the beginning of 2022. In general, however, the Russian oligarchs hold the majority of their active outside of Russia.

All data on the wealth (in US dollars) of the Russian oligarchs comes from the magazine Forbeswhich maintains an annual ranking and then updates these figures daily.

In his calculations, Forbes includes equity interests in listed companies, value of private companies, real estate, other assets, art, etc. The magazine specifies “not to claim to know the financial statements” of each billionaire. In doubt, Forbes said to assess the wealth of a billionaire person conservatively.

Learn more

  • 83
    Number of Russian billionaires as of March 11, 2022, according to Forbes. In March 2021, Forbes listed 117 Russian billionaires.

    Source : forbes

    219 billion US
    Net worth of American businessman Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, as of March 11, 2022, according to Forbes. It was worth 151 billion a year ago. And that’s not all: his fortune would have increased to 290 billion as of Tuesday.

    Source : forbes

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