The New York Times reports: President Vladimir V. Putin dismissed on Thursday reports based on leaked legal documents that some of his close associates had shoveled around $2 billion through offshore accounts in the Caribbean, calling the allegations an American plot to try to undermine Russian unity.
The Russian president, making his first public remarks on the subject, also defended the cellist Sergei P. Roldugin, an old and close friend who was named in reports about the leaked documents, known as the Panama Papers. The cellist was at the center of a scheme to hide money from Russian state banks offshore, the reports said.
Mr. Putin said that Mr. Roldugin, like many Russians, had tried his hand at business, in his case to support his love of music by getting the money to buy expensive instruments.
“Almost all the money he earned he spent on musical instruments that he bought abroad,” Mr. Putin said at a public forum for regional journalists in St. Petersburg, broadcast live by state-run television. The musician had then donated the instruments to government institutions.
On paper, Mr. Roldugin’s shares in various enterprises linked to friends of Mr. Putin, especially Bank Rossiya, give him a net worth of hundreds of millions of dollars. Mr. Roldugin is the artistic director of the House of Music, which trains classical musicians in St. Petersburg. [Continue reading…]