Roman Abramovich is an influential Russian business magnate, owner of Chelsea Football Club (an English Premier League football team), and former governor of Chukotka (a region in the Far Eastern Federal District of Russia). Even after losing almost one fourth of his estimated wealth during the global economic crisis (of the late 2000s), Roman Abramovich was still purported to have had a net worth of $8.5 billion, making him the 51st richest person in the world. (Forbes 2009)
His story of rags to riches is an intriguing one. In just over two decades the savvy Russian businessman turned a 2000 ruble (£1,000) wedding gift from his in-laws into a staggering fortune worth billions. Gaining experience in the late 80's as a trader selling black market goods on the streets of Moscow, he founded (and liquidated) numerous companies involved in everything from plastic toys, and tire retreading, to bodyguard recruitment and trading oil products. In 1995 he partnered with Boris Berezovsky (another Russian oligarch and associate of Boris Yelsin), and acquired controlling interest in Sibneft (one of Russia's largest oil and gas companies of the time). Like many of the loans-for-shares auctions of the time, many question how the pair paid a mere $100 million for a state asset that soon thereafter was valued in the billions.
A controversial figure, Roman Abramovich, has been accused of numerous wrongdoings.
- Former business partner, Boris Berzovsky, accused Abramovich of using blackmail, threats and intimidation to force him to sell his shares in Sibneft and Rusal for less than their true worth.
- The Russian oligarch has admitted to paying billions of dollars in bribes for political favours and protection fees on the path to accumulating his large stake in Russia's oil and aluminum industries. (The Times 2008)
- Yugraneft (an subsidiary of Sibir Energy) accused Abramovich, and his investment company Millhouse Capital, of share dilution when it's share in a joint-company with Sibneft was cut from 50% to just 1%.
- In 1992 Abromovich was arrested for the theft of government property, a train load containing 55 tankers of diesel fuel. "Luckily" Abramovich was released and charges were dropped after cooperating with authorities (Megarelax).
Roman Abramovich Facts
Russian Name: Роман Абрамович
Date of Birth: October 24, 1966
Place of Birth: Saratov, USSR