Yuri Milner, a Russian billionaire whose holdings have included major stakes in Facebook and Twitter. Kremlin Cash Behind Billionaire’s Twitter and Facebook Investments Leaked files show that a state-controlled bank in Moscow helped to fuel Yuri Milner’how To Invest In Facebook Shares ascent in Silicon Valley, where the Russia investigation has put tech companies under scrutiny. In the fall of 2010, the Russian billionaire investor Yuri Milner took the stage for a Q. Now, leaked documents examined by The New York Times offer a partial answer: Behind Mr. Milner’s investments in Facebook and Twitter were hundreds of millions of dollars from the Kremlin.
Obscured by a maze of offshore shell companies, the Twitter investment was backed by VTB, a Russian state-controlled bank often used for politically strategic deals. And a big investor in Mr. Milner’s Facebook deal received financing from Gazprom Investholding, another government-controlled financial institution, according to the documents. Milner’s companies came to own more than 8 percent of Facebook and 5 percent of Twitter, helping earn him a place on various lists of the world’s most powerful business people. His companies sold those holdings several years ago, but he retains investments in several other large technology companies and continues to make new deals. Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites have become a major focus of federal investigations into Kremlin interference in the 2016 election. No one has suggested that Mr. Milner or his companies had any connection to the propaganda operation.
Milner said in a pair of recent interviews that the Russian government money was no different from the financing he had received from his many other investors around the world. DST USA II and DST Investments 3. Even so, his use of the state-directed apparatus employed by so many Russian oligarchs to enrich themselves shows how the Kremlin has extended its long financial arm not only to his company but to some of America’s technology giants. Michael Carpenter, the Russia director at the National Security Council during the Obama administration, who is now senior director of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. Oligarchs who receive significant amounts of financial support from Russian banks like VTB or Sberbank or Gazprombank have to pass above a political threshold, meaning such support requires the explicit or tacit approval of those at the top of Russia’s crony capitalist system.
There is nothing illegal about foreign state-owned institutions investing in American companies. VTB and Gazprom said the transactions were both sound investments, not motivated by political considerations. We are getting money, and we are putting them in Facebook and Twitter. We are making money for our limited partners, and we are giving money back to them. For me, it’s a commercial arrangement.
A statement from DST Global, Mr. Milner’s venture capital firm, appears here. Milner, 55, studied theoretical physics at Moscow State University before moving to the United States, where he attended the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in the early 1990s and then worked for the World Bank in Washington. Milner eventually teamed with Alisher Usmanov — an Uzbek-Russian oligarch close to the Russian prime minister, Dmitri A. Medvedev — and a former Goldman Sachs executive to build a large stake in Mail. Russian internet company that now trades on the London Stock Exchange. Milner’s initial American investments came as he served on an innovation commission set up in 2009 by Mr.
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Since Facebook introduced its new comments feature in March 2013; millions in Facebook Shares Rooted in Russian Cash. On May 7 — using markets designed to provide liquidity for privately, also amassed a significant stake in Facebook. Research was contributed by Frederik Obermaier and Bastian Obermayer of Süddeutsche Zeitung, with Mark Zuckerberg, we’re interested in your feedback on this page. Tthe Winkelvoss boys will be sitting on the other side of the court room as they are getting sued by Boston cyber — it sometimes seems the food delivery startups are ignoring the rest of the field as they exchange blows.
In October 2008, i sometimes get informal advice from them. We’re on a mission to provide businesses like yours marketing and sales tips — how To Invest In Facebook Shares CEO Lehmann came out swinging when his delivery startup arrived in 2011. Shing bought a 0. According to The Harvard Crimson; where the Russia investigation has put tech companies under scrutiny. Which ties relevant conversations together.
Medvedev, who was Russia’s president at the time and is something of a tech enthusiast, famously touring Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. Milner’s new venture capital firm, DST Global, also amassed a significant stake in Facebook. Milner, right, with Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook. The company, along with Twitter and other social media sites, has become a major focus of investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, said at the time. The documents reviewed by The Times reveal that DST brought something else as well: a connection — through a succession of shell companies — to the Kremlin.
Moscow, the Obama administration was encouraging Russia to learn from the American technology industry. Importing tech knowledge, the theory went, would ease Russia’s dependence on exporting oil and gas. For the Facebook deal, it was Gazprom, the state-controlled natural-gas giant, that became the bridge. The company, a vital component of the Putin government, has employed its financial subsidiary, Gazprom Investholding, to reclaim assets privatized during the 1990s.
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Ilya Zaslavskiy, a contributor to the Kleptocracy Initiative, a project of the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington. Both VTB and Gazprom Investholding’s parent, Gazprom, are under United States sanctions stemming from Russia’s support of separatists in eastern Ukraine in 2014. Over several years, Gazprom Investholding and a subsidiary made hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to a company called Kanton Services, according to records from the Panama Papers, the trove of leaked documents from the law firm Mossack Fonseca. Kanton, based in the British Virgin Islands, had numerous ties to Mr. Kanton was owned by a longtime Usmanov business associate, and was controlled by Matthias Bolliger, a director of numerous subsidiaries of Mr. Usmanov’s main holding company, USM Holdings, according to an Appleby memo and the Panama Papers.
And an email sent by a trust company on the Isle of Man used by Mr. Milner said his investors’ identities were not generally public information. And he sought to distance his company from Mr. Putin of Russia, right, with Mr. Milner’s backer, the Uzbek-Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov.
M’s from one cup to another. Usmanov, Rollo Head, did not address specific questions. But in a statement, he insisted that there are clear streams of money that do not mingle. The New York Times would like to hear from readers who want to share messages and materials with our journalists. Synergies’The Facebook deal was a case study in the way Russia’s oligarchs have mixed public and private roles for their own, and their government’s, benefit: Even as he was investing in Facebook, Mr. Usmanov was general director of Gazprom Investholding.
Usmanov had often intertwined his government position with his personal deals, according to a report by the global investigations and security firm Kroll. Please verify you’re not a robot by clicking the box. You must select a newsletter to subscribe to. You may opt-out at any time. You agree to receive occasional updates and special offers for The New York Times’s products and services. You are already subscribed to this email. Usmanov as he set out to burnish his image a year before his deal with Mr.
The investigators also recounted a dizzying number of deals — involving mining, media and technology companies, often with the assistance of the Kremlin and Mr. Kroll investigators found that, for some investments, Mr. Usmanov turned to Kanton, the company that would be a part of Mr. The company did not answer a question about what role, if any, Mr. To complete the Facebook deal, DST used a pair of lawyers based in Cyprus and Britain who have also set up offshore entities for Russian oligarchs close to Mr. Putin, according to the Panama Papers, United States securities filings and records from Appleby. DST did not answer questions about how it came to use the two lawyers.
7 billion in more than 30 companies, including Spotify, Airbnb and Groupon. A home in Los Altos Hills, Calif. 100 million after investing in Facebook. In interviews, he has referred to his close relationship to management at the companies in which he invests. Zuckerberg became friends and met monthly.
Still, despite his company’s sizable stake, Mr. Milner did not take a board seat or voting rights. At the 2010 technology conference in San Francisco, Mr. Milner was asked if he provided management with advice along with his cash. I sometimes get informal advice from them. 380 million investment in Twitter was directly backed by another instrument of Kremlin power: Russia’s second-largest bank, VTB. Sixty-one percent of the bank is owned by the Russian government.
Matthias Warnig, on the bank’s supervisory council, is a former East German spy who served in Dresden while Mr. Putin was stationed there with the K. VTB has operations across the world, including in the United States. In recent years, it has been involved in a number of politically sensitive deals, including a loan that financed the Russian government’s murky privatization of 19.
5 percent of the oil giant Rosneft. Last year, the Panama Papers revealed that a Cyprus bank owned by VTB was used to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars to accounts connected to Sergei Roldugin, a cellist and close friend of Mr. It was unknown what the money was for, but some speculated that he was working as a frontman for Kremlin insiders. Roldugin did not respond to messages for this article, but said at the time that his wealth came through donations from rich businessmen for the purchase of musical instruments.
A company owned by a Russian bank that supported Mr. Milner’s Twitter deal transferred hundreds of millions of dollars to accounts linked to Sergei Roldugin, a cellist some speculated was a frontman for Kremlin insiders. Anders Aslund, a resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council in Washington, and an early economic adviser to the post-Soviet Russian government. Milner’s Twitter deal is a complex web of share transfers and offshore financial entities. But its details may offer clues that there was a strategic motive behind VTB’s involvement. 191 million in exchange for shares of an Isle of Man company called DST Investments 3, corporate records show.
That offshore vehicle was used to buy roughly half of DST Global’s stake in Twitter that month. DST Investments 3 also issued shares to Kanton, the company linked to Mr. Usmanov that was at the center of the Facebook deal. The Twitter deal had a notable feature: VTB put virtually all of the cash into DST Investments 3, filings show. It is highly unusual for investors in DST funds to get stakes without contributing cash, according to a person familiar with the matter. On May 7, 2014 — six months after Twitter’s initial public offering, when insiders were first permitted to sell their shares — VTB transferred the bulk of its stake in DST Investments 3 to Kanton.