You have to pay for everything in your life. Even for your friendship with the president.Gennady Timchenko
Introduction to Gennady Timchenko’s Bio
Gennady Nikolayevich Timchenko, born on November 9, 1952, is a prominent Russian oligarch and billionaire. He is the founder and owner of Volga Group, a private investment firm, and formerly held a co-ownership stake in Gunvor Group. Gennady Timchenko’s bio and career are intricately linked with his close friendship with Russian leader Vladimir Putin since the early 1990s. In 1991, Putin granted Timchenko an oil export license, leading to the establishment of Gunvor, which has since facilitated the export of billions of dollars worth of Russian oil.
About Gennady Timchenko
- Gennady Timchenko has stakes in various Russian businesses, including gas company Novatek and petrochemical producer Sibur Holding.
- Timchenko ran a state-owned oil exporting company and became one of its largest shareholders when it was later privatized.
- One of Russia’s most powerful people, he befriended Putin in the 1990s in Saint Petersburg when he and the Rotenberg brothers started a judo club called Yavara- Neva.
- Timchenko was sanctioned by the U.S. in 2014 and by the EU and U.K. in 2022.
- He remains chairman of the Russian national hockey league KHL and is president of the SKA Saint-Petersburg Hockey Club.
Through his investment firm, Volga Group, Timchenko holds a significant share of the natural gas giant Novatek. Notably, the Pandora Papers leaks revealed that a Timchenko-affiliated company played a central role in the Novatek investment and acquired substantial loans through anonymous offshore entities.
However, Gennady Timchenko has faced sanctions imposed by the United States due to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Further sanctions from the United Kingdom were impending just before the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
As of March 2022, Timchenko ranks 205th on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, with an estimated fortune of $10.3 billion. He is recognized as the sixth wealthiest individual in Russia. Additionally, he serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Kontinental Hockey League and holds the position of President of the SKA Saint Petersburg ice hockey club. Remarkably, Timchenko is a citizen of Russia, Finland, and Armenia.
|Born in Armenia, then part of the Soviet Union
|Begins working for a state-run construction plant in Leningrad
|Starts working at Russian foreign trade ministry in Leningrad
|Gunvor reports $43 billion in revenue in its first financial disclosure.
|founded the oil trading company Gunvor.
|founded the oil trading company Gunvor.
|Acquires 38 percent of the petrochemical company, Sibur.
|U.S. authorities start a money-laundering probe of Timchenko.
|U.S. authorities start a money-laundering probe of Timchenko.
Early Life and Education
Timchenko’s background, including his birth, family, and educational journey
- Birth and Early Years:
- Timchenko was born on November 9, 1952, in Leninakan, which was part of the Armenian SSR in the Soviet Union (now known as Gyumri, Armenia).
- His father served in the Soviet military during World War II.
- Between 1959 and 1965, young Timchenko spent six years of his childhood in the German Democratic Republic and the Ukrainian SSR.
- Education and Early Career:
- In 1976, he earned a degree in electrical engineering from the Mechanical Institute of Saint Petersburg, known as Leningrad at the time.
- Timchenko commenced his career at Izhorsk Plants in St. Petersburg, a company specializing in building nuclear power reactors.
- After eight years, he transitioned to the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Trade.
- Rising through the ranks:
- Notably, in 1988, at the age of 36, he assumed the role of Deputy Head of Kirishineftekhimexport, a state-owned entity responsible for exporting oil products to Western countries.
- Foray into the Oil Trade:
- In 1991, Gennady Timchenko became associated with Urals Finland, a European firm engaged in importing Russian oil and petroleum products.
- His entrepreneurial spirit led to the establishment of his own oil trading company, Gunvor, in 2000, in partnership with Swedish entrepreneur Torbjorn Tornqvist.
- Gunvor swiftly rose to prominence, reporting an impressive $43 billion in revenue in its first disclosed financial year in 2007.
- Business Expansion:
- Timchenko expanded his business empire with the formation of Volga Resources, an investment company based in Luxembourg. This company enabled him to acquire a significant 5% stake in the Russian gas producer Novatek for $460 million.
- Wealth and Recognition:
- As of March 2022, Gennady Timchenko held the 205th spot on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, boasting an estimated fortune of $10.3 billion. Remarkably, he stands as the sixth wealthiest individual in Russia.
- Involvement in Sports:
- Beyond business, Timchenko is known for his role as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Kontinental Hockey League. He also serves as the president of the SKA Saint Petersburg ice hockey club.
- Notably, Gennady Timchenko is a citizen of Russia, Finland, and Armenia, reflecting his diverse international ties.
Timchenko’s professional journey, including his roles, companies, and significant achievements
- Early Career:
- Timchenko commenced his professional journey at Izhorsk Plants in St. Petersburg, a Soviet firm specializing in nuclear power reactors. Following eight years in this role, he transitioned to the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Trade.
- Deputy Head at Kirishineftekhimexport:
- In 1988, at the age of 36, Timchenko assumed the position of Deputy Head at Kirishineftekhimexport, a state-affiliated entity responsible for exporting oil products to Western countries.
- Entry into the World of Oil:
- In 1991, Timchenko made a pivotal move by joining Urals Finland, a European company involved in importing Russian oil and petroleum products.
- Connection with Vladimir Putin:
- During the early 1990s, while the Soviet Union was undergoing transformation, Timchenko forged a friendship with Vladimir Putin, who was then the Deputy Mayor of St. Petersburg. Notably, Putin also served as the chairman of a judo club co-founded by Timchenko.
- Establishment of Gunvor:
- Timchenko ventured into the realm of oil trading in 2000, co-founding his own company, Gunvor, alongside Swedish partner Torbjorn Tornqvist. By 2007, Gunvor reported an impressive $43 billion in revenue, marking a significant milestone in Timchenko’s career.
- Formation of Volga Resources:
- Timchenko established Volga Resources, a Luxembourg-based investment entity. Through this platform, he acquired a 5% stake in Russian gas producer Novatek for $460 million. In subsequent years, Volga expanded its holdings by obtaining an additional 13% share of Novatek. Timchenko also secured a position on the company’s board of directors.
- Leadership at Volga Group:
- Timchenko wields control over Volga Group, a Russia-based company with interests spanning energy, transportation, and construction. His substantial holdings encompass 23.5% of the publicly traded gas producer Novatek and a 14.5% stake in Sibur Holding, a prominent petrochemical company.
- Wealth Ranking:
- As of March 2022, Gennady Timchenko stood as the 205th wealthiest individual on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, boasting an estimated fortune of $10.3 billion. Impressively, he ranks as the sixth richest person in Russia.
- Involvement in Sports:
- Beyond his business endeavors, Timchenko is recognized for his roles as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Kontinental Hockey League and the President of the SKA Saint Petersburg ice hockey club.
Timchenko grows apples in Russia.
Work in the Soviet Union
Gennady Timchenko, born in Armenia in 1952 to a Soviet military officer, had a diverse upbringing. He spent his formative years in Ukraine and East Germany and pursued an electrical engineering degree at Leningrad Mechanical University. His professional journey commenced in 1976 when he joined Izhorsk Plants, a Soviet enterprise specializing in nuclear power reactors in St. Petersburg.
After an eight-year stint, Timchenko transitioned to the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Trade. In 1988, at the age of 36, he assumed the role of deputy head at Kirishineftekhimexport, a state entity responsible for exporting oil products to Western countries. During the early 1990s, as the Soviet Union underwent significant changes, he crossed paths with Vladimir Putin, then the deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, and formed a lasting friendship. It’s noteworthy that Putin also served as the chairman of a judo club co-founded by Timchenko.
In the year 2000, Timchenko embarked on his entrepreneurial venture by establishing Gunvor, an oil trading company, in partnership with Torbjorn Tornqvist, a Swedish business associate. By 2007, Gunvor had reported impressive revenues of $43 billion in its first year of disclosing financial details.
The billionaire further diversified his portfolio by creating Volga Resources, a Luxembourg-based investment firm. With this vehicle, he acquired a 5% stake in Russian gas producer Novatek for $460 million. In 2009, Volga expanded its influence by purchasing an additional 13% of Novatek, and Timchenko secured a position on the board of directors. His influence extends to Volga Group, a Russia-based conglomerate with interests spanning energy, transportation, and construction. Timchenko’s most significant holdings include a 23.5% stake in the publicly traded gas producer Novatek and a 14.5% stake in Sibur Holding, a petrochemical company.
Move to Finland
Gennady Timchenko moved to Finland and became a citizen of the country. There has been speculation about how he was able to secure his Finnish citizenship, but the Finnish Interior Ministry found no law breach in the process. Timchenko controls Volga Group, a Russia-based company with interests in energy, transportation, and construction, and is known for his involvement in the Kontinental Hockey League and the SKA Saint Petersburg ice hockey club.
Gennady Timchenko, in collaboration with Swedish entrepreneur Torbjörn Törnqvist, co-established the Gunvor Group in 1997. Gunvor is a global company specializing in the trading and logistics of energy commodities on the international market. It swiftly ascended to become one of the world’s largest oil trading firms. By 2007, in its first year of disclosing financial figures, Gunvor recorded a remarkable $43 billion in revenue.
Timchenko’s long-standing friendship with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, dating back to the early 1990s, played a pivotal role in Gunvor’s success. This association enabled the company to secure oil export licenses and attain a prominent position in the Russian oil industry. However, in 2014, the United States added Timchenko to its sanctions list following Russia’s annexation of Crimea. This situation compelled him to divest his nearly 50% stake in Gunvor. Notably, the sale took place on the very day Timchenko’s name was included in the sanctions list.
In 2016, Gunvor completely severed its financial ties with Timchenko, marking his complete disengagement from the company.
Founding Volga Group
Gennady Timchenko is the founder of Volga Group, an organization that manages its diverse assets and invests in several sectors, including financial services, industrial and construction, trade and logistics, consumer goods, and energy. Within the group’s portfolio are substantial holdings in Novatek, the petrochemical company Sibur, and a joint venture with Gunvor in the coal enterprise Kolmar. Timchenko’s current emphasis is on advancing infrastructure projects in Russia.
Involvement with Redut PMC
Gennady Timchenko, a Russian entrepreneur and the founder of Volga Group, has been associated with the private military company (PMC) known as Redut. Here are some key insights :
- Redut is a Russian PMC operating under the direct supervision of Russian Military Intelligence.
- Redut has been actively engaged in combat in various regions of Ukraine, including Donetsk, Kharkiv, Kyiv, and Luhansk, since the onset of Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s full-scale invasion in February 2022.
- The PMC has been utilized by Russia to replace personnel from the Wagner Group in the Ukrainian conflict, enabling Moscow to circumvent mobilization efforts.
- It is highly likely that Redut is funded and overseen by the GRU, which is Russia’s military intelligence agency.
- According to a former senior Russian army officer and a former Wagner operative, Redut was established in 2008 by Gennady Timchenko, who is closely associated with Putin and has a background as a former KGB agent. It was created to safeguard his interests in the gas industry.
- It’s important to note that Gennady Timchenko’s known involvement with Redut ended in 2014 when he divested his nearly 50% stake in Gunvor, the oil trading company he co-founded.
Timchenko sold his stake in trading company Gunvor to partner Torbj?rn T?rnqvist in 2014, a day before he was hit with sanctions.
Sanctions imposed on Timchenko and their implications
- In February 2022, the UK imposed sanctions on Gennady Timchenko and two other billionaires closely connected to Russian President Putin. This action came after Putin deployed military forces into two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine.
- Shortly after, the European Union followed suit by placing Timchenko on its sanctions list in February 2022. This move involved imposing a travel ban and freezing his assets.
- The United States took similar action in March 2014, adding Timchenko to its sanctions list. As a result, he was compelled to divest his nearly 50% stake in Gunvor, the oil trading company he had co-founded.
- It’s worth noting that the US sanctions also extended to Timchenko’s wife and two daughters, making him the wealthiest Russian to have family members subjected to US sanctions.
- Another area of concern is Timchenko’s alleged involvement with the private military company Redut, which operates under the direct oversight of Russian Military Intelligence.
- The sanctions against Timchenko and his associated companies have had far-reaching consequences. These include the forced sale of his stake in Gunvor and restrictions on his international travel and business activities.
- In response to these measures, Timchenko has consistently denied any wrongdoing and has initiated appeals against the sanctions imposed on him.
Personal Life and Citizenship
Gennady Timchenko is married to Elena and they have three children. Their daughter Ksenia is married to Gleb Frank, the son of former Russian Transport Minister Sergey Frank. In 2000, Timchenko’s teenage daughter obtained Finnish citizenship, leading to speculation about the handling of the citizenship applications for Timchenko’s family. The Finnish Interior Ministry conducted an inquiry into this matter and found no violations of the law.
Timchenko’s younger daughter Nataliya Browning married Peter Browning, a fellow student at Oxford University, in November 2002 and may have later divorced Peter Browning and entered into a relationship with Gabriel Frolov, a former Russian Orthodox monk.
In 1999, Timchenko obtained Finnish citizenship and relinquished his Russian citizenship, as he mentioned in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. By 2004, he was residing in Geneva, Switzerland, and had acquired Finnish citizenship. In an October 2012 interview with the Russian edition of Forbes, Timchenko stated that he held both Russian and Finnish citizenship.
Timchenko has faced several sanctions due to his alleged involvement in the conflict in Ukraine and his close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. These sanctions have had significant repercussions for his business interests and his ability to conduct international travel and business. It’s worth noting that Timchenko has consistently denied any wrongdoing and has actively appealed against the sanctions imposed on him.
As of March 2022, Gennady Timchenko held the 205th position on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, boasting an estimated wealth of $10.3 billion. This ranking makes him the sixth wealthiest individual in Russia.
By July 2023, Timchenko had climbed to the 8th spot on CEOWORLD magazine’s list of the richest individuals in Russia, amassing a net worth of $18.5 billion.
Forbes magazine consistently recognizes Gennady Timchenko as one of the world’s and Russia’s wealthiest individuals. In 2014, Forbes estimated his net worth at around $13.1 billion, mainly stemming from his earnings in the oil and gas industry. As of June 2022, Forbes evaluated his net worth at an impressive $23.1 billion, positioning him as the 64th wealthiest person globally.
Timchenko’s most significant investment is a substantial 23.5% stake in Novatek, a publicly traded natural gas producer. Additionally, he holds a 14.5% stake in Sibur Holding, a prominent petrochemical company.
Notably, Timchenko’s income witnessed remarkable growth, according to Finnish tax authorities. Between 1999 and 2001, his earnings increased tenfold. In 2001, he reported an income of EUR 4.9 million.
Beyond his business ventures, Gennady Timchenko is recognized for his active involvement in the Kontinental Hockey League and his role as the President of the SKA Saint Petersburg ice hockey club.
Investigations and allegations related to Timchenko’s business activities
Gennady Timchenko’s association with the private military company Redut, operating under the direct oversight of Russian Military Intelligence, has raised concerns about his business activities. The US Treasury Department alleges a direct link between Timchenko’s energy sector activities and Vladimir Putin. In 2014, the US imposed sanctions on Timchenko in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, compelling him to sell his nearly 50% stake in Gunvor, the oil trading company he co-founded. Notably, the sanctions also targeted Timchenko’s wife and two daughters, marking him as the wealthiest Russian with family members facing US sanctions.
Furthermore, the European Union added Timchenko to its sanctions list in February 2022, resulting in travel bans and asset freezes. Timchenko has maintained his innocence and filed appeals against the imposed sanctions.
Additionally, Timchenko’s name has been linked to a network of insiders who gained control of numerous gas and oil fields in Uzbekistan. These individuals were granted profitable construction, drilling, and export rights, often without any public evidence of competitive bidding. Companies associated with this network were accused of charging exorbitant prices for services that state-owned entities could have more affordably provided.
The control of Uzbekistan’s primary gas network storage facility has been transferred to a Russian firm, with its nominal owner having business ties to Timchenko, who is under US and EU sanctions. This individual appears to be a proxy for Timchenko in this arrangement.
Sports and Hobbies
Timchenko’s involvement in sports, hobbies, and philanthropic activities
Gennady Timchenko holds several key positions in the world of sports and philanthropy. His involvement reflects a deep passion for physical activity and a commitment to making a positive impact.
- Ice Hockey Involvement
- Timchenko serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and holds the role of President at the SKA Saint Petersburg ice hockey club. His contributions to ice hockey have been significant, contributing to the growth and development of the sport in Russia and internationally.
- Judo and Tennis
- Beyond ice hockey, he is also the chairman of the Russian national judo team, showing his diverse interests in different sports. Additionally, Timchenko enjoys playing and watching tennis. Since 2000, he has been a sponsor of the IPP Open, an outdoor tennis tournament in Finland. There are unconfirmed reports suggesting that he has supported Russian tennis players and the Finnish national Davis Cup team.
- Philanthropic Activities
- Gennady Timchenko is actively involved in philanthropy. He has dedicated substantial resources to support charitable causes, focusing on education, healthcare, and social welfare. His philanthropic efforts are managed through the Timchenko Foundation, which is dedicated to elderly care, sports, culture, and foster families. In 2020, Timchenko donated 2.9 billion rubles to aid in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Franco-Russian Chamber of Commerce
- In 2011, he was elected as the Chairman of the Economic Council of the Franco-Russian Chamber of Commerce (CCIFR), where he played a significant role in strengthening economic ties between France and Russia.
- Board Memberships
- Timchenko also serves on the board of trustees for the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Russian Geographical Society.
- Overall Impact
- Gennady Timchenko’s commitment to sports and philanthropy reflects his genuine love for athletic pursuits and his dedication to making a positive difference in various areas of society.
Public Activities and Philanthropy
Timchenko’s contributions to various charitable foundations and cultural projects
Gennady Timchenko is deeply committed to philanthropy, with a rich history of involvement spanning over a quarter-century. Together with his wife, he has actively supported charitable endeavors through the Timchenko Foundation, focusing on a range of impactful causes. These areas of support include initiatives for the elderly, family and children’s welfare, cultural preservation, sports development, community solidarity, and anti-crisis projects.
Timchenko’s philanthropic contributions extend significantly to areas such as education, healthcare, and social welfare, reflecting his dedication to improving the well-being of communities and individuals. Furthermore, his commitment to sports and culture is evident through his active participation in projects like ice hockey and his role in the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow.
Awards and recognitions Timchenko has received
- Gennady Timchenko received the Legion of Honor from France in 2013, recognizing his significant contributions to society.
- In 2022, his wife, Galina Timchenko, was honored with the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award for her exceptional and sustained dedication to the cause of press freedom.
- Timchenko’s philanthropic endeavors are channeled through the Timchenko Foundation. This foundation supports a wide range of charitable causes, including assistance for the elderly, family, and children, cultural initiatives, sports, community solidarity, and anti-crisis projects.
- Timchenko is celebrated for his pivotal role in advancing the sport of ice hockey, both in Russia and globally. He has made substantial investments in teams and infrastructure, contributing to the sport’s development and expansion.
- Additionally, he holds the position of Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Kontinental Hockey League and serves as President of the SKA Saint Petersburg ice hockey club.
- Furthermore, Timchenko plays a vital role in the board of trustees at the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow. His support for cultural and educational institutions is noteworthy.
- For nearly two decades, Timchenko has sponsored the IPP Open, an outdoor tennis tournament in Finland. He has also extended his support to several Russian tennis players.
- Timchenko’s exceptional contributions to various fields, including sports, philanthropy, and the energy sector, have earned him well-deserved recognition over the years.
In 2014, the United States imposed sanctions on Gennady Timchenko due to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which led to the sale of his nearly 50% stake in Gunvor, the oil trading company he co-founded. The U.S. Treasury Department alleged that Timchenko’s involvement in the energy sector had direct ties to Putin.
Timchenko has also been linked to the private military company Redut, operating under the direct supervision of Russian Military Intelligence. As a result, the European Union placed sanctions on him in February 2022, including travel bans and asset freezes.
In 2014, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York initiated a money-laundering investigation into Timchenko and his commodities firm, Gunvor Group. This probe sought to determine whether Timchenko had transferred funds related to potentially corrupt deals in Russia through the U.S. financial system. Timchenko vehemently denied any wrongdoing and has appealed against the imposed sanctions.
Media attention has also focused on Timchenko’s citizenship status and his family’s Finnish citizenship applications from the 1990s. According to a 2023 report from the Finnish Interior Ministry, the processing of these applications adhered to the regulations in force at the time.
Despite his involvement in various charitable foundations and cultural projects, concerns have arisen regarding Timchenko’s business activities, particularly his alleged connection to Redut and his close ties to Vladimir Putin.