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CORRUPTION

Palme d’Oil: Gazprom Neft CEO avoids sanctions, buys mansion in French Riviera

Russia’s state-owned gas giant Gazprom is suffering heavy losses after being hit hard by international sanctions. Only Gazprom Neft — its oil-producing subsidiary — continues to turn a profit, making it the only firm throughout the entire corporation that is still paying out dividends. However, Gazprom Neft's CEO Alexander Dyukov, whose personal income exceeds 4.6 billion roubles (over $51.4 million), is also doing well. As The Insider has learned, Dyukov signed over a luxurious property on the French Riviera to his family and can still fly there, as he is not subject to EU sanctions.

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Notably, Dyukov is entangled in a conflict of interest within Gazprom Neft itself. In addition to his main employment, Dyukov also holds a significant ownership stake in Sibur, Russia’s largest petrochemicals firm. The state-owned Gazprom Neft sets exclusive terms of cooperation for Sibur, a private company, and an investigation by The Insider revealed that the largest portion of Dyukov's earnings come from dividends generated by Sibur through its projects with Gazprom Neft.

Late last year, Gazprom Neft’s market capitalization surpassed that of its parent company Gazprom, and data from the Moscow Exchange shows that the subsidiary has retained its lead into the early days of 2024. This isn’t the first time that Gazprom Neft CEO Dyukov has outdone Gazprom head Alexei Miller. In the late 1990s, Dyukov was Miller's boss at the Sea Port of St. Petersburg (Dyukov headed the port, while Miller worked as director for development and investments). Details as to who was where and working for whom nearly three decades ago are not as trivial as they might seem. In the early 1990s, during Vladimir Putin’s tenure as a key advisor in the St. Petersburg mayor’s office, the city’s Sea Port came under the control of figures linked to the Tambov-Malyshevsky organized crime group. Multiple individuals involved in this episode — Dyukov and Miller among them — went on to enjoy successful careers during Putin's presidency.

Dyukov has been in charge of Gazprom Neft for 17 years, and he has headed the Russian Football Union for the past five. And while he did come under British sanctions almost immediately after the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, neither the United States nor the European Union have blacklisted the CEO. Thanks to this latter exemption, Dyukov remains free to vacation at this mansion on the French Riviera.

It was here, in Le Cannet, that he bought a villa in 2017, registering the real estate rights to his underage daughter Sasha, who was only 17 at the time.

Le Cannet is a resort town practically next door to Cannes. As The Insider has learned, two plots of land with a mansion and swimming pool were registered to Valexa — a company founded by Alexandra (Sasha) Dyukova.

Dyukov bought the property for 12.5 million euros, the equivalent of 1.2 billion roubles at the current exchange rate. The villa has 7 bathrooms and 5 bedrooms. It also features a separate house with a sauna and shower right next to the pool.

At the time of the purchase, Sasha had no money of her own, and her mother, Anastasia Elagina, had no income whatsoever. Although Elagina was named as Valexa’s director and junior partner, the founding documents of the French company state that Elagina has no profession. In the past, Elagina worked as a mathematics teacher in a St. Petersburg school, but she is now a homemaker — albeit one who was granted an initial 40% stake in the company she nominally heads.

In November 2023, Valexa’s shares were signed over to Elagina in full. This was likely done in order to safeguard the villa in Cannes against any potential seizure by French authorities — if Dyukov were to be sanctioned, it would not be difficult to show that his student daughter could not have earned 12.5 million euros it was purchased on her own. In Moscow, Elagina lives with Dyukov's two daughters in a 265-square-meter apartment that he owns in the Granatny Palace apartment complex near Patriarch's Ponds, an affluent neighborhood in the center of the Russian capital. The apartment’s market value is close to 900 million roubles. Elagina drives a Porsche Cayenne, and Dyukov himself insures the car.

  • The Granatny Palace apartment complex
  • Elagina's address (found in documents leaked from medical organizations)
  • Rosreestr extract confirming Dyukov's ownership of the Granatny Palace apartment
  • Dyukov's daughters pass to get into the building
  • Dyukov insures Elagina's Porsche

The CEO also bought his children a country home in the elite village of Sosnovy Bor, where an empty plot of land typically costs upwards of 300 million roubles. The property is in “Rublyovka,” the unofficial name of a prestigious residential area located along the Rublyovo-Uspenskoye Highway in the western suburbs of Moscow. Rublyovka's gated communities are home to multiple Russian government officials and businesspeople, a fact that led The New York Times to characterize the district as “home to the sprawling villas of Russia's ruling class.”

Where did Dyukov get the money to support his family's luxurious lifestyle? Although his salary at state-owned Gazprom Neft has not been publicly disclosed, according to leaded tax data (as seen below) it exceeds 443 million roubles ($4.95 million) a year.

He also received an additional 320 million roubles ($3.57 million) from Gazprombank in 2020.

However, The Insider has learned that these are not Dyukov’s only sources of income. As was mentioned above, the Gazprom Neft CEO is a minority shareholder in Sibur, Russia's largest gas processing and petrochemicals company. Sibur’s main owners are Leonid Mikhelson, whose estimated $21.6 billion net worth makes him Russia’s fourth richest man, and Gennady Timchenko, who has been a close associate of Putin’s ever since the future president’s St. Petersburg days and whose $18.5 billion fortune places him three spots below his partner on the latest Forbes list. Despite its owners’ close ties to the Kremlin, Sibur has escaped sanctions and continues to export its products to Europe.

Dyukov’s shares in Sibur are owned through Uran LLC. According to documents available to The Insider, he received 3.9 billion roubles’ worth of dividends ($43.6 million) in 2022 alone.

Uran LLC documents confirming Dyukov's dividends from Sibur (3.9 billion roubles, or $43.6 million, in 2022)
Uran LLC documents confirming Dyukov's dividends from Sibur (3.9 billion roubles, or $43.6 million, in 2022)

The fact that Dyukov simultaneously heads a state-owned company and is a co-owner of the private firm Sibur represents a clear conflict of interest. Gazprom Neft has created exclusive terms of cooperation for Sibur, and these deals in turn bring significant profits to the private company’s shareholders — Dyukov among them. For example, Gazprom Neft and Sibur have partnered to extract oil from the state company's Yuzhno-Priobskoye field. Another joint venture is the Polyom polypropylene plant in Omsk. Gazprom Neft also has a gas supply agreement with Sibur that runs until 2033.

As a result, Dyukov's annual income from Sibur and Gazprom Neft amounts to more than 4.6 billion roubles (over $51.4 million). In terms of income, this means he is even beating out the head of Rosneft, Igor Sechin, yet another St. Petersburg Putin connection, who “only” brings in an estimated annual haul of 3 billion (just over $33.5 million).

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