Newly-leaked documents show that the Kremlin invested hundreds of millions of dollars into Twitter and Facebook through a business associate of President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
According to the “Paradise Papers” — a trove of more than 13 million internal documents released Sunday that show how the world’s wealthiest use offshore tax havens — two Russian state-owned entities with close ties to Vladimir Putin invested money into Facebook and Twitter through the Russian-American tech investor Yuri Milner.
Milner currently holds a stake in a real-estate project that was founded and is partially owned by Kushner. When Kushner first joined the Trump administration, he failed to disclose his holdings in the project.
Russia’s state-owned VTB Bank gave Milner $191 million to invest in Twitter, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which obtained the Paradise Papers. The bank, according to The New York Times, frequently embarks on “politically strategic deals.”
Documents also show that Gazprom Investholding, the financial arm of the Russian state-operated energy firm Gazprom, backed a company affiliated with Milner which owned approximately $1 billion in Facebook stock shortly before it went public in 2012.
Gazprom is one of Russia’s largest energy companies and Putin is said to wield significant influence over the firm, which is stacked with the Russian leader’s allies and associates.
When all was said and done, Milner owned roughly 8% of Facebook and 5% of Twitter, according to The Times. He sold his holdings in both social-media companies years ago, and there is no evidence that he was connected to Russia’s widespread propaganda campaign on the two platforms during the 2016 election. He also told the ICIJ that he was not aware of Gazprom Investholding’s involvement in his investments, and that none of his deals were related to politics.
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SOURCE: Business Insider, Sonam Sheth