Investigation suggests Latvian connection to sanctioned Russian oligarch Rotenberg

A major new investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) in association with the Baltic Center for Investigative Journalism (Re:Baltica) delves into the murky world of Russian sanctions evasion – and identifies a Latvian citizen who might be involved in helping one of Russia's richest men dodge Western sanctions.

The major investigation, dubbed the 'Rotenberg Files' probes the dealings of Boris and Arkady Rotenberg, two of the most prominent Russian oligarchs to be sanctioned after the Kremlin’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.

"Never-before-seen insider documents now offer unprecedented insight into how they shielded their fortune — and who helped them do it," says the OCCRP.

Among those named in the investigation is a 36-year-old Latvian cosmetologist named Marija Borodunova.

Documents cited by investigative reporters show that, as of mid-2017, Borodunova controlled 80 percent of RG-Development, a major Moscow real estate developer, through a ZPIF called Lontano [A 'ZPIF' is a type of Russian real estate investment mechanism], which is believed to be linked to Arkady Rotenberg.

"Reporters found that she owned several other valuable assets: A luxury Monaco apartment in a landmark building which she rented to a Rotenberg company for 260,000 euros ($275,000) per month in 2017 and, with her two young daughters, a 4.25-million-euro ($4.5 million) villa on the French Riviera," said the OCCRP.

"According to a leak of Russian tax records seen by reporters, Borodunova earned $25.5 million in 2020 alone," it said, adding that Borodunova did not respond to emailed questions.

Re:Baltica goes into a bit more detail about Borodunova in its story "Masha and the milliions" outlining how she now holds a multi-million dollar property portfolio, including the 65-million-euro Monaco penthouse, despite humble beginnings in the Rīga suburb of Pļavnieki, which is in most respects about as far from the upscale charms of the Corniche as can be imagined.  

"Borodunova bought the penthouse in Monaco in the summer of 2016, using a complex chain of Maltese and Monaco companies," writes Re:Baltica, adding that Borodunova also owns properties in exclusive housing complexes in Moscow and St. Petersburg and that she earned more than 25 million dollars in Russia in 2020. Sources also hint that the relationship between Borodunova and Arkady Rotenberg may involve a romantic element rather than being strictly business.

In other findings, the OCCRP identified links between real estate assets in Latvia and Elena Ruzyak, a Rotenberg employee and fixer.

"Two other assets — apartments in the heart of Riga, Latvia — were transferred away from one of the Rotenbergs’ BVI firm Narcius Investments Limited and registered in Ruzyak’s name, according to Latvian property records," writes the OCCRP.

The full investigation can be read at:

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