Ermira Consultants, a Cypriot company formally owned by Vladislav Kopylov, a lawyer from Saint Petersburg, has been used as a personal offshore company for Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, as well as his family and circle for years, the new investigation by Proekt reveals.
The media outlet has spoken to “an important manager of the business empire owned by one of Putin’s closest friends who was directly connected with running the secret financial network” that included Ermira. The manager’s name remains undisclosed.
“We used to say ‘to pay with Ermira’ which meant to use Putin’s money to pay for one deal (in his interest) or another,”
the manager says.
Numerous people from Putin’s circle without any business relationships between each other used to take part in running Ermira, says the investigation.
Proekt says one of the ways Putin made money was the Putinka vodka retail trademark. Journalists say that the brand was invented by a company named Vineksim in 2002. Its owner, the investigation reveals, asked Arkady Rotenberg, an oligarch and a friend of Putin’s, to ask the Russian president for permission to use his name.
Putin granted the permission, and the trademark became owned by PromImpeks, and later by Real-Invest, a sister company of Ermira. The brand was transferred to Baikal-Invest, a company with a non-transparent structure.
“We cannot say for sure that the new owner of the vodka trademark is also connected with Ermira and Putin,
but we know for sure that behind Baikal-Invest are the same Rotenberg’s managers that are connected with other projects of Putin’s ‘common fund’,” the media outlet says.
Proekt was told by its source that back in the 2000s, distributors who wanted to sell Putinka used to bring Rotenberg “bags stuffed with cash as payment for permission to sell vodka named after the president,” and part of this money “ was intended for Putin ”.
The investigation reveals that a total of $500 million could have been earned from manufacturing and selling Putinka vodka, as well as from royalties between 2004 and 2019.
Also, Ermira owned 24% of shares in NMG, a major media holding company, but later its share shrinked.
The investigation also says Ermira was involved in constructing the notorious ‘Putin’s palace’ in Gelendzhik. The company was also used to purchase a 120 square metres large apartment in downtown Moscow, two villas in the Moscow region, as well as three apartments and a penthouse in Sochi.