UK to review legality of Russian First Deputy Prime Minister’s luxury apartment purchase in London
The apartment with an area of almost 500 square meters and located in the heart of the British capital was acquired for 688 million rubles ($16.4m, £1.3m).
Transparency International in the UK demanded that the British authorities review whether a certain London apartment allegedly belonging to Igor Shuvalov, the First Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, was a legal purchase. The statement was made on the day the British courts got the right to send Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWO). They have been able to do this since the adoption of the Criminal Finances Act, as stated by Transparency International’s Russian leader Ilya Shumanov. Upon receipt of the request, a foreigner who owns suspicious real estate or accounts in a UK bank must explain where the assets came from.
The apartment with an area of almost 500 square meters is located in Whitehall Court in the heart of the British capital. The building is on the banks of the Thames near Westminster Abbey. Navalny’s FBK featured a story about that elite real estate back in 2015. According to an extract from Proprietorship Register, the Russian SOVA REAL ESTATE LLC (owned by Olga and Igor Shuvalov) bought the apartment from an offshore company run by Igor Shuvalov in 2014 for 11.5 million pounds ($16.4m). This means Shuvalov bought the apartment from his own offshore company, the investigation pointed out. By the way, initially there were two apartments, which Shuvalov later combined into one.
Meanwhile, according to his income declaration, the Deputy Prime Minister made about 9.23 million rubles ($164.800) in 2014. "This is 8 times less than the required tax for the London apartment (1.3 million pounds), and 76 times less than the sum needed to buy the apartment itself," FBK noted. The property is registered as rented until 2176, while Shuvalov’s declaration states he is renting it until 2018.
"Shuvalov will most likely be able to prove that he bought the London real estate with legal income, but this whole show with Igor Ivanovich having to produce the checks and accounts, confirm his income, put debit and credit in a column, this is going to be a big thing. And knowing the British, they can make it public," Ilya Shumanov wrote on Facebook.
We remind that in 2016 it was revealed that First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov owned 10 apartments on the 14th floor of a high-rise building on Moscow’s Kotelnicheskaya Embankment. The total area of the apartments combined exceeds 700 square meters. Shuvalov also reportedly found it ridiculous that some Russians actually bought 20-sq.m. apartments while he was looking at new buildings in Kazan.
Last week, the entire world has celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Internet. In the meantime, the Russian legislators have adopted new laws restricting the development of the Russian-speaking segment of the world wide web. The 'fake news' and 'internet insults' laws adopted under the pretext of protecting the society from manipulations and threat, including external ones, violate the Constitution and some federal laws in relation to the right to search for, obtain, and use information. Furthermore, the bill on ‘sovereign Internet’ passed in the first reading by the State Duma leads us directly to self-isolation.