Isle of Man firm hits back at claims by Russian oligarchs

A billionaire Russian investor in Silicon Valley companies was, according to a news report, able to funnel his wealth through a trust, a business services and fund administration company on the Isle of Man called Bridgewaters. The firm denounced the article as deliberately misleading.

Bridgewaters, an Isle of Man-based trust, business services and fund administration company, described claims that it is at the heart of a “Russian monetary network” as “intentionally misleading”.

Bridgewaters was mentioned in a the wall street journalArticle from October 25. The article read: “A Silicon Valley laser startup that went public in February had a surprising investor: a Russian billionaire. The deal, through a series of offshore companies and a venture capital fund, allowed the oligarch, Alisher Usmanov, to shift more of his vast wealth to the West. The fund’s stake in the IPO was valued at $175 million.

“The company has helped structure a business empire for its clients that has included investments in US technology companies such as Meta Platforms Inc, Twitter and Airbnb Inc.; investment in a company that would sell surveillance equipment to the Russian government and real estate throughout Europe. The newspaper cited documents it had reviewed.

The WSJ continued: “To trace Russian assets, the Journal sifted through thousands of corporate documents, many of which have been made public in recent years in major leaks of financial documents from offshore service companies, including Panama, Pandora and Paradise Papers.”

With the treatment of Russians being a prominent KYC and anti-money laundering compliance issue since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February, the way advisors and firms treat these customers is a hot topic.

Bridgewaters sent an email Heritage Briefing about the item.

“The article gives an incomplete, often contradictory and intentionally misleading picture of the real situation. The report makes no allegation of wrongdoing; however, this insinuates that Bridgewaters acted inappropriately or unlawfully, this is categorically rejected,” the company said.

“Bridgewaters takes its obligations as a regulated business very seriously and we regularly and voluntarily extend our full cooperation to any regulator or relevant competent authority that requests information,” he continued. Bridgewaters had and continues to have a diverse global customer base, although we have had Russian customers over the years, as well as customers based in several other jurisdictions. Several of the individuals noted in the WSJ article have never been engaged as clients of Bridgewaters.

“In terms of penalties in place for individuals and businesses, Bridgewaters takes its reporting obligations very seriously and strictly adheres to the restrictions in place in all relevant jurisdictions. Where necessary, legal advice has been sought and all relevant client matters are monitored daily,” he said. “Following the introduction of the Russia-related sanctions earlier this year, we have put in place additional procedures and checks which are undertaken on all transactions and payments to ensure we remain fully compliant.”

The company was established in 1996 and is licensed by the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority.

 

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