15-Year Search for Secret Putin Fortune Revived
Analysts suspect he has billions stashed away
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 28, 2014 12:07 AM CDT
Updated Apr 28, 2014 6:39 AM CDT
Russia's President Vladimir Putin eyes the Thracian gold collection in Bulgaria's National Museum of History.   (AP Photo/Georgi Georgiev, Pool)

(Newser) – Is Vladimir Putin secretly the wealthiest leader in history? Fresh sanctions on Russia have revived a worldwide hunt for a suspected hidden Putin fortune that some analysts believe could be worth as much as $70 billion, the New York Times finds. Accusations of shady dealings have followed the Russian leader since the earliest days of his political career, and some officials believe he has salted away huge wealth through secret holdings in energy firms. A search spanning 15 years, however, has failed to find hard evidence of Putin holdings that Western nations could target to put pressure on Russia.

Putin himself, who reported income of just $102,000 last year, has dismissed rumors of hidden wealth. "Just gossip that’s not worth discussing. It’s simply rubbish," he told reporters in 2008. "They picked everything out of someone’s nose and smeared it on their little papers." But as the Ukraine crisis continues to escalate, fresh sanctions on Russia to be unveiled as soon as today will target people and companies close to Putin, though not the leader himself, Bloomberg reports. "We will be looking to designate people who are in his inner circle, who have a significant impact on the Russian economy," Deputy White House National Security Adviser Tony Blinken says. The Times sees this new round as "sending a not-very-subtle message that it thinks it knows where the Russian leader has his money, and that he could ultimately be targeted directly or indirectly."

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Apr 29, 2014 9:55 AM CDT
look up kim k butt!
Apr 28, 2014 8:33 PM CDT
This topic is pointless if not idiotic. What difference does it make if Putin is worth a dollar or a trillion dollars? What is money going to do for Putin? He appears to have absolute control -- spelled p-o-w-e-r --- within Russia. Is more or less wealth going to change that? Does anyone think Putin sits around looking at his bank statement? What good did the formerly imprisoned Gazprom billionaire's wealth do him when Putin decided the Gazprom billionaire would not be President of Russia?
Apr 28, 2014 7:55 PM CDT
Let's see, more wealth than either Bill Gates or Warren Buffett? Come now. Most wealthy world leader leader ever? Not by a mile even if he had that kind of money. Think certain French kings, Inca leaders and even those gold loving African kings of old. Or an emperor of China where folks like the British and Spanish had to throw drugs over the wall just to get them to trade for something besides gold or silver as payment.