A port city, a steel cage, a palace: The steps that made Putin 'the richest man in the world' - USA TODAY

A port city, a steel cage, a palace: The steps that made Putin ‘the richest man in the world’ – USA TODAY


Why Vladimir Putin’s wealth will be difficult to sanctionNews Sports Entertainment Life Money Tech Travel Opinion

His financial empire was built with a methodical system, using public resources and a close circle of friends. Can harsh financial sanctions really touch the man who controls the wealth of Russia?

  • Putin’s financial empire was built with a methodical system, using public resources and a close circle of friends.
  • Observers say he made billionaires out of fellow spies and St. Petersburg associates who helped him.
  • “He has run his financial affairs in a way that’s totally consistent with the biggest organized crime boss on the face of the earth,” says former U.S. illicit finance official David Asher.

St. Petersburg was one of the richest seaports in Russia. But in the early 1990s, it was starving.  

The city once known as Leningrad was reeling amid the breakup of the Soviet Union. Grocery shelves were bare. So its deputy mayor hatched a plan. St. Petersburg would license the export of some of the region’s natural resources and use the money to feed its people.  

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