Russian Oligarchs

Alexei Kuzmichev: Bold Biography of Founder of Alfa Group and LetterOne

Early Life and Education

Born on October 15, 1962, in Kirov, Russia, Alexei Kuzmichev‘s journey to becoming a billionaire began with a typical Soviet upbringing. Raised by a father who worked as an engineer, Kuzmichev navigated through the ordinary aspects of teenage life, attending school, engaging in sports, and spending summers in health camps. His post-school life took a turn when he served as a radio operator in the Far East after demobilization from the army.

His pursuit of higher education led him to the Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys, where he displayed academic talent and a keen interest in finance. It was during this period that he crossed paths with future business partners, German Khan and Mikhail Fridman.

Entrepreneurial Ventures

Life of Alexey Kuzmichev
Life of Alexey Kuzmichev

In 1989, the trio, along with Professor Mikhail Alfimov, founded Alfa-Photo, specializing in the sale of computers and equipment for photo creation. This venture marked the beginning of a series of successful projects that would shape Kuzmichev’s career.

Alfa-Eco and the Rise of Alfa Group

In 1990, Alfa-Eco emerged, laying the foundation for Alfa Group, a financial and investment consortium that would become a giant in the Russian business landscape. Alexei Kuzmichev played a pivotal role in steering the consortium towards investments in the oil industry and metallurgy.

Crown Resources AG, the brainchild of Kuzmichev, became a major player in the global oil market during the 1990s, solidifying partnerships with authorities in Iraq, Iran, and Venezuela.

Brief about Alfa Group

Founded in 1989, Alfa Group is one of the largest privately owned financial investment conglomerates in Russia. It is a combination of independent businesses operating mainly in Russia and the CIS, with interests in diversified investments, oil and gas, commercial and investment banking, asset management, insurance, retail trade, telecommunications, water utilities, and special situation investments. The group has about 400 thousand employees and its total assets were reported to be US$82.598 billion in 2012. Some of its subsidiaries include Alfa-Bank, Alfa Capital Management, AlfaStrakhovanie Group, Altimo, X5 Retail Group, A1 Group, Rosvodokanal Group, and others.

The group also has global operations through its leading businesses, such as Sigma, a multinational food company.

The group operates as an investment advisory firm, providing commercial, investment banking, asset management, insurance, retail trade, and water utilities services.

LetterOne Group

Letter One Group
Letter One Group

Alexei Kuzmichev went on to establish LetterOne Group, headquartered in Luxembourg, focusing on investments in European countries. His influence in the business world earned him recognition among the wealthiest entrepreneurs with a Russian passport.

Brief details of LetterOne

Founded in 2013, LetterOne Group is an international investment business based in Luxembourg. It is a partnership of successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, and international businesspeople passionate about building better businesses. The group has long-term investments in sectors fundamental to society’s sustainable prosperity, including telecoms, technology, healthcare, and energy.

It consists of four main units: L1 Health, L1 Technology, L1 Retail, and L1 Energy, all supported by L1 Treasury Services, which manages the group’s liquidity. As of 2021, LetterOne had $26.8 billion in equity and more than £20 billion of patient capital. The group is committed to maintaining best-in-class corporate governance and a sound business reputation and implementing governance practices benchmarked against the best public company international standards.

Liquidation of Letter One Funds

In 2022, LetterOne, which is backed by sanctioned Russian oligarchs such as Alexei Kuzmichev, initiated legal proceedings against Pamplona Capital Management, a private firm looking after $5 billion in assets. After this, Pamplona decided to liquidate funds associated with LetterOne.

The decision was a direct response to the sanctions imposed on various Russian individuals, including those linked to LetterOne.

Personal Life and Philanthropy

Family Life
Family Life

Known for his private nature, Kuzmichev‘s personal life intertwines with his business endeavours. He married Svetlana Uspenskaya, a woman he met during the Prestige tanker case trial. The couple have three children, Alexis, Margot and Taya.

Both Kuzmichev and his wife engage in philanthropy, with Svetlana being involved in charitable projects and serving on the board of trustees at the Metropolitan, a prominent art museum in Paris.

Timeline of the career of Alexei Kuzmichev

1962Alexei was born on October 15 in Kirov, Russia.
1980sHe attended Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys, where he met future business partners German Khan and Mikhail Fridman.
1989Co-founded Alfa-Photo, a venture specializing in computer and photo equipment sales.
1990Founded Alfa-Eco, laying the foundation for the formation of Alfa Group, a financial and investment consortium.
1990sAlfa Group became a major player in the Russian business landscape, with investments in oil and metallurgy. Crown Resources AG, led by Kuzmichev, became a significant player in the global oil market.
2013Established LetterOne Group, headquartered in Luxembourg, focusing on investments in European countries.
2022Letter One, backed by Kuzmichev, initiated legal proceedings against Pamplona Capital Management. Pamplona decided to liquidate funds associated with LetterOne in response to sanctions.

Interesting Facts

  • Born during the Cuban missile crisis, Kuzmichev’s life has been marked by historical events.
  • Crown Resources faced litigation related to the Prestige tanker sinking in 2002, avoiding financial claims.
  • Kuzmichev initiated the Babylon project, aiming to preserve the cultural treasures of Mesopotamia.

Alexei Kuzmichev’s Net Worth

Wealth and Prominence
Wealth and Prominence
YearNet Worth (in billions)
20148.8 Billion
20157.3 Billion
20166.7 Billion
20177.2 Billion
20187.6 Billion
20197.5 Billion
20206.5 Billion
20217.8 Billion
20226 Billion
20236.4 Billion

Are there any controversies between Alexei Kuzmichev and Alfa Group?

There are disputes involving Kuzmichev and Alfa Group, a major Russian private investment firm that he co-founded. Kuzmichev has faced legal challenges related to tax fraud, money laundering, and violating sanctions in France.

French authorities detained him for cross-examining the allegations of tax evasion and breaking international rules. The European Union imposed sanctions on him due to his firm connections with Vladimir Putin, requiring him to pay a €8 million bond.

The U.S. Treasury Department also implemented financial sanctions against Kuzmichev and three other Russians affiliated with Alfa..

Challenges and Sanctions

Kuzmichev’s ascent to the business world has faced challenges, including personal sanctions from over 30 countries and the loss of Cypriot citizenship. In 2022, he stepped down from the board of directors of LetterOne Group and expressed intentions to divest assets from Alfa Group.

Legal Troubles

In October 2023, Kuzmichev was detained in France on suspicion of money laundering and violating sanctions. Search operations uncovered cash stacks, leading to accusations of circumventing EU sanctions legislation. Released on bail of €8 million, he remains under judicial supervision and is unable to leave France.

Details of sanctions on Alexei Kuzmichev


Kuzmichez is a major shareholder of Alfa Group, which is linked to Alfa Bank, a major contributor to Russia’s tax revenue. He also maintains a strong relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Therefore, he supports Russia financially, thereby aiding the Russian military in the annexation of Crimea and the destabilization of Ukraine.


Date of SanctionsPlace of Sanctions
14/03/2023European Union
04/07/2022United Kingdom
12/10/2022New Zealand


Alexei Kuzmichev, born in 1962 in Kirov, Russia, underwent a remarkable transformation from a Soviet upbringing to achieving billionaire status. In 1989, he initiated his entrepreneurial endeavours by co-founding Alfa-Photo alongside his future associates German Khan and Mikhail Fridman. This event marked the beginning of Alfa Group, a financial consortium that played a crucial role in shaping Russia’s business environment.

Kuzmichev’s venture, Crown Resources AG, emerged as a prominent international participant in the oil industry during the 1990s. In 2013, he founded LetterOne Group, headquartered in Luxembourg, with a primary focus on investing in European nations. Nevertheless, in recent years, there have been a multitude of difficulties and disputes. Kuzmichev encountered legal complications pertaining to tax evasion and the illegal transfer of funds to France, resulting in his apprehension and subsequent release on bail.

His wealth experienced fluctuations throughout the years, ultimately reaching its highest point of $8.8 billion in 2014. Kuzmichev and his wife, Svetlana Uspenskaya, both participate in philanthropic endeavours, with Uspenskaya specifically focusing on charitable initiatives.

The timeline depicts significant milestones in Kuzmichev’s professional trajectory, encompassing the establishment of Alfa Group and LetterOne. Notwithstanding his achievements, disputes arose, leading to sanctions imposed by the EU, UK, USA, Canada, Switzerland, Australia, Ukraine, and New Zealand in response to his purported endorsement of Russia’s actions in Crimea and Ukraine. The legal issues faced by Kuzmichev and the liquidation of LetterOne funds as a result of sanctions highlight the difficulties encountered in his entrepreneurial endeavours.

Alexander Harris

Alexander Harris - The Digital Bloodhound Alexander isn't your typical investigative journalist. He thrives in the digital world, scouring the web for hidden connections and leaked documents. An expert data analyst and coder, he builds intricate digital trails to expose fraud, cybercrime, and government overreach. Alexander Harris began his career as a journalist. He is one of the founders of the " Russian Oligarchs Tracker Unit ".

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