MOSCOW, February 7 (RAPSI) – Russian tycoon Vladimir Potanin has turned over the bulk of his assets to charity, minus the money he has kept for his children, his representative told Kommersant newspaper on Thursday.
Potanin, 52, controls the Interros investment vehicle and is CEO and the major shareholder of the world’s largest nickel and palladium miner, Norilsk Nickel. His personal wealth is estimated at $14.3 billion. He has three children.
In December 2013, he filed for divorce from his wife Natalya at the Presnensky District Magistrate Court in Moscow. Potanin’s lawyers cited the right to privacy and asked for the proceedings to be closed to the media. The court granted the motion despite the defendant’s objections.
Potanin’s application says that spousal relations between him and Natalya have effectively ceased, that they have no shared assets and live separately. The court has postponed the hearing until February 25 .
Natalya Potanina has said it is untrue that their marital relations stopped in January 2007, adding that it was during this period that her husband became secretive about his business.
She may “file a claim for a division of jointly acquired assets and also contest a number of deals” made by her husband, her lawyer Filipp Ryabchenko told the newspaper. He added that they are searching for the billionaire’s assets around the world and suspect that the bulk of them have been hidden “under the corporate veil.”
“We want to establish what assets he has divested, if any, and to whom, if it was done for philanthropic reasons or because he wanted to hide his wealth from his wife, creditors or the state in a tax optimization attempt,” Ryabchenko said.
Potanin made international headlines in October 2013, when he bought a rare 1.8-kilogram white truffle from a New York restaurateur for $95,000.
In 2013, Potanin joined the Giving Pledge program organized by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, promising at least half of his wealth to charity causes. He claimed that his family supported his decision.