Petr Olegovich Aven Controversies started since 1989, when Aven was appointed as an advisor to the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Petr Aven is a Russian billionaire and co-founder of Alfa Group, a financial services firm. In February 2022, the European Union blacklisted Aven and froze his assets in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. Treasury Department also imposed sanctions on Aven and fellow Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman.
Petr Aven is a Russian oligarch with a long and successful business career. He is the co-founder and co-owner of Alfa Group, one of Russia’s largest private conglomerates, with interests in banking, telecommunications, insurance, and other sectors.
Aven began his career in the early 1990s, following the collapse of the Soviet Union. He served in the Russian government for a brief period before entering the private sector. In 1993, he co-founded FinPA, a consulting firm that helped businesses to raise capital by leveraging external debt. FinPA was a regular consultant to Alfa-Bank, and this is how Aven met and began his working relationship with Mikhail Fridman, the founder of Alfa-Bank.
In 1994, Aven and Fridman acquired Alfa-Bank, and Aven became the bank’s president. Under Aven’s leadership, Alfa-Bank grew rapidly and became one of Russia’s leading banks. Aven also oversaw Alfa Group’s expansion into other sectors, such as telecommunications and insurance.
After leaving politics in December 1992, Petr Aven quickly entered the business world. He became an advisor to billionaire Boris Berezovsky, the president of Russia’s first private car dealership. Aven held this position until February 1993.
The following month, in March 1993, Petr Aven founded the Petr Aven Finances (FinPA) consulting company, which helped businesses raise capital by leveraging external debt. FinPA was a regular consultant to Alfa-Bank, a leading Russian bank founded by Mikhail Fridman. This is how Aven and Fridman met and began their working relationship, which continues to this day.
Rise to Prominence : Alfa Bank’s success
Under Petr Aven’s leadership, Alfa Bank became the leading private credit institution in Russia. The bank’s success is attributed to its trust-based corporate culture, clear distribution of responsibilities, conservative business style, and the willingness of its owners to invest personal funds during crises. In fact, Petr Aven has said that it is impossible to take money out of the bank’s accounts when clients are bringing it in.
Petr Aven’s Alleged Corruption Charges
While working as Chairman of Ministry of External Economic Relations (IVEC), Petr Aven is accused of using his position as a government official to enrich himself. He is alleged to have accepted “commissions” and “expensive gifts” for helping foreign companies to do business in Russia, particularly in the food import sector (meat, sugar and other foods ). He is also alleged to have set up a complex financial scheme to funnel profits from this corruption into offshore accounts.
After Aven left the government, his associate, Sergei Magazar, who lived in France, was killed in Paris. Another Oligarch who allegedly benefited from Aven’s corruption is Mikhail Fridman, who is said to have been able to purchase goods in India at the expense of Russian public debt thanks to his connection to Aven.
Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven : Business Interests
Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven are two of only three members of the semibankirshchina, the seven bankers who funded Boris Yeltsin’s re-election as president in 1996 still active in Russian business.
Aven and Fridman first met in the early 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. They were both working in the financial sector and quickly realized that they had a lot in common. They were both ambitious, intelligent, and driven.
Mikhail Friedman offered Petr Aven the position of president of Alfa-Bank in order to attract him to the company. Aven agreed, and the two entrepreneurs exchanged assets. Aven gave Friedman 50% of Finpa, and Friedman gave Aven 10% of Alfa-Bank.
In 1991, Aven and Fridman co-founded Alfa Bank, one of Russia’s first private banks. Alfa Bank quickly became one of the most successful banks in the country, and Aven and Fridman began to expand their business interests into other sectors, such as telecommunications, insurance, and retail.
Petr Aven was the president of Alfa-Bank Russia from 1994 to June 2011. He is currently a member of the board of directors and chairman of the board of directors of ABH Holdings S.A.
Petr Aven is also the chairman of the board of directors of AlfaStrakhovanie Group and a co-chairman of the board of directors of CTC Media, Inc. In 2012, the Alfa Group, together with Viktor Vekselberg’s Renova Group and Leonard Blavatnik’s Access Industries, sold their combined 50% stake in TNK-BP to the state-owned oil company Rosneft for $28 billion.
Petr Aven joined the board of directors of LetterOne Group in 2013. LetterOne is an international investment business founded by Mikhail Fridman and focused on the telecommunications, technology, and energy sectors. It owns companies and has equity investments in companies in 32 countries around the world.
In October 2015, LetterOne acquired assets from German utility company E.ON in a deal worth $1.6 billion. This gave the Luxembourg-based group Norwegian oil and gas resources. The following month, LetterOne announced its intention to deal with Brazilian telecom company Oi SA, which would boost its presence in the mobile phone sector there.
In 2016 LetterOne, an international investment firm established by Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman, made a strategic $200 million investment in Uber, the world’s most valuable private startup to expand their operations in India and Philippines. Uber was lagging behind Ola at that time.
The UK-based business, Holland & Barrett Holland bought by L1 Retail, which is controlled by Mikhail Fridman.L1 Retail bought Holland & Barrett in 2017 for £1.8 billion. L1 Retail is a retail investment fund owned by Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman. L1 Retail is a branch of Luxembourg-based LetterOne . Holland & Barrett is Europe’s largest health food chain. It currently has 1,150 locations, in 16 countries but operates mainly in the UK, China, India, the Netherlands and UAE.
EU Sanctions On Petr Olegovich Aven
The European Union (EU) sanctioned Petr Aven in 2022 after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Aven was blacklisted on February 28, 2022.
” Petr Aven is one of Vladimir Putin’s closest oligarchs. He is an important shareholder of the Alfa Group, which includes one of major Russian banks, Alfa Bank. He is one of approximately 50 wealthy Russian businessmen who regularly meet with Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin. He does not operate independently of the President’s demands. His friendship with Vladimir Putin goes back to the early 1990s.
When he was the Minister of Foreign Economic Relations, he helped Vladimir Putin, then deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, with regard to the Sal’ye Commission investigation. He is also known to be an especially close personal friend of the Rosneft chief Igor Sechin, a key Putin ally. Vladimir Putin’s eldest daughter Maria ran a charity project, Alfa-Endo, which was funded by Alfa Bank.
Mr Aven benefitted from his government connections. He wrote a letter to Vladimir Putin complaining about the Moscow Arbitration Court’s decision in the legal case concerning interests of one of Mr Aven’s businesses. Vladimir Putin instructed the Prosecutor General of Russia to investigate the case. Vladimir Putin rewarded Alfa Group’s loyalty to the Russian authorities by providing political help to Alfa Group foreign investment plans.
Mr Aven and his business partner Mikhail Fridman have been engaged in the Kremlin’s efforts to lift the Western sanctions issued to counter Russian aggressive policy against Ukraine. In 2016 Vladimir Putin warned Mr Aven about the prospect that the United States would impose additional sanctions against Aven and/or Alfa-Bank and suggested that he needed to take steps to protect himself and AlfaBank, to which Mr Aven complied. In 2018 Mr Aven along with Mr Fridman visited Washington DC on an unofficial mission to convey the Russian government’s message on US sanctions and on counter-sanctions by the Russian Federation.
Therefore he actively supported materially or financially and benefited from Russian decision-makers responsible for the annexation of Crimea and the destabilisation of Ukraine. He also supported actions or policies which undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. “
Aven and his associate, Mikhail Fridman, both stepped down from the board of LetterOne in 2022 after the EU sanctions. Aven had been the head of Alfa-Bank until March 2022.
US Imposes Sanctions After Petr Olegovich Aven Controversies
On August 11, 2023 , the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned four prominent Russian oligarchs and a Russian business association. The four individuals are Petr Aven, Mikhail Fridman, German Khan, and Alexey Kuzmichev, all of whom have served on the supervisory board of Alfa Group, one of Russia’s largest financial and investment conglomerates. These individuals were previously sanctioned by other Western countries, including Australia, Canada, the European Union, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
Petr Olegovich Aven (Aven) serves as the chairman of the board of a Russia-based insurance company and is a member of the supervisory board of the Alfa Group.
Aven was designated pursuant to E.O. 14024 for operating or having operated in the financial services sector of the Russian Federation economy.
Mikhail Maratovich Fridman (Fridman) is the founder of the Alfa Group, was the former chairman of the supervisory board of the Alfa Group, and remains involved in the conglomerate. Additionally, Fridman chairs an RSPP committee.
Fridman was designated pursuant to E.O. 14024 for operating or having operated in the financial services sector of the Russian Federation economy. Fridman was also designated pursuant to E.O. 14024 for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the RSPP.
German Borisovich Khan (Khan) is a member of the supervisory board of the Alfa Group. Additionally, Khan is the chairman of the board of a Russian company that is engaged in construction activities, and is a participant/founder of a separate company also engaged in construction activities.
Khan was designated pursuant to E.O. 14024 for operating or having operated in the financial services sector of the Russian Federation economy. Khan was also designated pursuant to E.O. 14024 for operating or having operated in the construction sector of the Russian Federation economy.
Alexey Viktorovich Kuzmichev (Kuzmichev) is a member of the supervisory board of the Alfa Group and leads a Russia-based investment company.
Kuzmichev was designated pursuant to E.O. 14024 for operating or having operated in the financial services sector of the Russian Federation economy.
All property and interests in property of the persons above that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked.
All transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or blocked persons are prohibited unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or exempt. These prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any blocked person and the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.
Background on Sanctions
Impact of Sanctions on Aven Petr
Petr Aven has been sanctioned by the following countries:
- European Union
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- United States
The sanctions imposed on Aven vary from country to country, but they typically include asset freezes and travel bans. The sanctions are intended to put pressure on Aven and other Russian oligarchs to use their influence to stop the war in Ukraine.
Response to Sanctions And Petr Olegovich Aven Controversies
Petr Aven, a Russian oligarch who has been sanctioned by the UK, is receiving a monthly allowance of £60,000 from UK Treasury officials. The majority of this money is said to be going to a security firm owned by Aven’s financial manager, who is being investigated for helping Aven evade sanctions. Aven and his business partner, Mikhail Fridman, have been described as “pro-Kremlin oligarchs” who are closely associated with Russian President Vladimir Putin. They deny this claim and are challenging it in court.
In late October 2022, Petr Aven was given a one-off payment of £388,000 to pay off his urgent debts. This decision was criticized by supporters of the UK sanctions regime. Aven claimed that the money was needed to meet his and his family’s basic needs.