Russian Billionaires Richer than Ever Despite Sanctions, Trade Wars

The richest Russians have increased their total wealth by billions of dollars since the beginning of 2018, despite many of their businesses being directly or indirectly affected by sweeping international sanctions.

Data from the Bloomberg Billionaire Index shows that the 24 richest Russian oligarchs have managed to expand their wealth by a combined $10 billion, regardless of being included on a list by the U.S. Treasury Department earlier this year that suggested they be directly targeted with sanctions.

Eleven of the 24 richest Russians have together expanded their wealth by upwards of $10 billion in the first half of the year, despite the unfavorable business climate. Another 13 billionaires lost more than $7 billion from January to July 3, 2018.

Leonid Mikhelson, currently Russia’s richest man with a net worth of $19 billion, earned the lion’s share of the money at $2.23 billion, according to the index. Mikhelson is the CEO of Novatek, an independent oil and gas company.

The second largest sum of money was earned by Lukoil chairman Vagit Alekperov, who earned upwards of $2 billion. Andrei Melnichenko, the largest shareholder of the EuroChem fertilizer company, who made $1.56 billion through mid-2018.

Investor Gennady Timchenko, a close ally of Putin, along with Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich, earned the fourth and fifth-most so far this year, at $1.46 billion and $1.13 billion each.

Not all Russian billionaires did well, however. Viktor Vekselberg, a metal tycoon recently forced to cut shares in some foreign companies after Swiss banks reportedly froze $1 billion of his accounts, lost almost $1 billion this year.

Supermarket magnate Sergei Galitsky also posted losses of almost $1 billion.