Rinat Akhmetov: Ukraine's Richest Man in the Eye of the Storm

December 3, 2023 - Reading time: 3 minutes

In the swirling vortex of Ukraine's ongoing conflict, Rinat Akhmetov, the nation's richest person, finds himself at a precarious crossroads.

His vast empire, built on energy plants and steelworks, has been significantly impacted by the Russian invasion. This article delves into the complexities of Akhmetov's situation, examining the losses incurred, his legal battles, and the controversial revelations from the Cyprus Confidential documents.

The Impact of War on Akhmetov's Empire

Rinat Akhmetov's fortunes have been deeply entwined with the fate of his country. The Russian invasion has wreaked havoc on his business empire, SCM (System Capital Management), causing an estimated loss of $10 billion. The war has decimated his mining, steel, and energy facilities, leading to tragic human costs with 517 employees killed and 1,000 injured.

Metinvest, SCM's metallurgical conglomerate, operates at a reduced capacity due to constant shelling and the occupation of the Black Sea area, including key ports. Akhmetov's commitment to Ukraine remains unwavering despite these challenges. He has notably contributed over $100 million in aid to the war effort and has remained in Ukraine throughout the conflict.

Akhmetov's Legal Struggle

In 2022, Akhmetov took a significant step by suing Russia in the European Court of Human Rights, seeking compensation for the extensive business losses since the invasion. This lawsuit underscores the extent of the financial damages and Akhmetov's determination to seek justice. Despite his business setbacks and the ongoing military action, which complicates a full assessment of losses, Akhmetov's resilience remains evident.

The holding company of Rinat Akhmetov, System Capital Management (SCM), announced on June 27 that the business magnate has suffered massive financial losses in the wake of Russia's invasion, which began over four months ago. The statement highlighted that as the proprietor of Azovstal and numerous other industrial entities targeted by Russian forces, Mr. Akhmetov is determined to hold Russia accountable for the widespread devastation inflicted across Ukraine.

Russian military forces captured the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, a key southeastern Ukrainian city, in May. This followed an extended siege, during which Ukrainian defenders fiercely resisted from within the extensive industrial complex.

Corruption Allegations and the Cyprus Papers

Akhmetov's troubles are compounded by allegations surfacing from the Cyprus Confidential documents. These leaked files have revealed Akhmetov's involvement in offshore transactions, including the purchase of a luxury penthouse in London through a shell company, Gelion Properties Ltd.

Despite recent transparency reforms in the UK aimed at exposing beneficial owners of properties acquired through offshore entities, Akhmetov's dealings have raised questions. His use of Gelion to shield his identity and the subsequent listing of a different individual as the beneficial owner have drawn scrutiny, highlighting potential loopholes in the law.

Rinat Akhmetov stands as a complex figure amidst Ukraine's turbulent times. His business losses reflect the broader economic impact of the war on Ukraine, while his legal battles and involvement in controversial offshore activities paint a picture of a tycoon navigating through a storm of challenges.

As Ukraine's richest man, his actions and the outcomes of his legal and financial endeavors will have significant implications not only for his empire but also for the broader narrative of Ukraine's ongoing struggle for sovereignty and economic stability.

DW Staff

David Lintott is the Editor-in-Chief, leading our team of talented freelance journalists. He specializes in covering culture, sport, and society. Originally from the decaying seaside town of Eastbourne, he attributes his insightful world-weariness to his roots in this unique setting.