He is well known on the Côte d’Azur… where did the 700 million of the “Russian Gatsby” Souleyman Kerimov go?


The Panama Papers revealed a myriad of offshore companies, potentially linked to a well-known Russian senator from the Côte d’Azur. With the help of opaque editing, Souleyman Kerimov, could have carried out colossal transfers of funds. The international consortium of journalists that sifted through the data from a massive document leak identified a dozen wire transfers in the space of two years. For a total amount of 700 million dollars!

A retiree, a tattoo artist, a beautician… All nominees

However, Kerimov’s name never appears. These money movements were carried out by companies based in the British Virgin Islands, obviously led by nominees. A tattoo artist from Lucerne alone would have authorized the transfer of nearly 200 million. Most of the straw managers of these front companies are from this small Swiss town. Our colleagues from the Tribune de Genève have identified around twenty of them. Among them are a beautician, a retiree and even the political leader of a Swiss micro-party who, on paper, found himself bombarded as director of the holding company that owns Polyus, the biggest Russian gold mine!

However, Polyus does indeed belong to Senator Kerimov. His own son Saïd announced just days ago that he was resigning from his board and that his family had reduced his stake in the mining company to less than 50%. It must be said that father and son have just joined the blacklist of oligarchs sanctioned by the European Union. Their immense fortune therefore risks being frozen. Provided, however, that you can locate it. Which could turn out to be very complicated.

90 million euros in bribes for a villa in Cap d’Antibes

In any case, the examination of the Panama Pappers did not make it possible to identify the final destination of the hundreds of millions of dollars transferred by the network of Lucerne nominees. On the other hand, it turns out that many of them work or have worked for Alexander Studhalter. This Swiss businessman had been remanded in custody in 2018 by a Nice magistrate. To avoid suffering the same fate, Souleyman Kerimov had meanwhile had to pay a record deposit of 40 million euros!

At the time, French justice was investigating the purchase of several villas at Cap d’Antibes. Again, on paper, the Swiss Studhalter was the owner of this 12,000 m2 land complex on the shores of the Big Blue. In reality, the investigators suspected the Russian senator of being the real beneficiary. However, the value of one of these houses, the villa Hier, had been deliberately undervalued by the French tax authorities. Declared 35 million euros, the acquisition had been the subject of a kickback of 90 million paid directly into accounts in Switzerland.

Spectacular Ferrari accident on the Promenade des Anglais

Souleyman Kerimov has never been sent to court. Justice then preferred to compromise. In his defense, the Russian senator claimed to be only the tenant of these villas owned by the SwiRu group led by… Alexander Studhalter. Again and again this Swiss businessman whose name was already on the gray card of the Ferrari Enzo which, in November 2016, had crashed on the Promenade des Anglais. Even if it was Kerimov who was driving.

Severely burned, the billionaire who always appears gloved still bears the consequences. Unless it’s to leave no footprints.


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