Hidden Russian oligarchs? How the owners of the luxury villas Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat hide behind an opaque financial arrangement

It is a little piece of paradise that stands out proudly in the blue waters of the Mediterranean: 248 hectares divided into just 1605 plots of land. For comparison, Nice has nearly 43,000. But Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat does not intend to compete with the capital of the Riviera, at least in this area.

The former fishing village, in which there is the most expensive per square meter in France, has become, over the decades, a peninsula of billionaires. Many of the EU-sanctioned Russian oligarchs today made it the Garden of Eden. Viktor Rachnikov, Alexander Ponomarenko, Arkady Rotenberg … Others perhaps.

Behind the scenes of opaque luxury

It’s hard to say for sure. Behind the scenes in this ultra-luxury real estate market is very mysterious. By reviewing about 1,600 land units on the Billionaire Peninsula, we discover an amazing game matryoshkasThese Russian dolls fit together almost endlessly: a legal pile-up whose sole purpose seems to be to conceal the true owner of these extraordinary villas.

Once we put aside the municipal or state land reserves around semaphores or even the EDF, we identified 590 plots of land owned, not by individuals, but by corporations. Or 37% of this management puzzle. As each plot is uneven, it is in fact more than two-thirds of the municipality obtained through often complex legal arrangements.

By researching the statutes of these civil real estate companies, we discover that the shares of these real estate companies are themselves owned by another registered entity, this time, in Monaco or Luxembourg, in most cases. Administrative law is not always limited to these neighbors by the highly protective legislation of business secrecy. It is not uncommon for society’s “weirdest” third curtain to hide the tracks a little more in Panama, the Isle of Man, Cyprus or the Seychelles.

Divorce “white” and shareholder

This is no doubt why the Russian asset freeze announced the day after the invasion of Ukraine, a month later, promised to be more complex than it appears. The Cote d’Azur investigators had already encountered these opaque arrangements in the context of the Karimov case. To return to this senator sitting in the Council of the Russian Federation, they had to consider requests for international cooperation in Gibraltar and Switzerland. Once again, the wealthy Suleiman Keriman was suspected of being the real owner of the villa yesterday, in Cap d’Antibes, he appeared only as a tenant.

“Another widespread method among Russians to cover up their tracks, is the method of real false divorce, trusted on the condition of anonymity, a real estate agent from the coast. Many of these oligarchs put their property in the name of their children or wives … or, more precisely, the wife The former. The cases of separation registered in the courts of Russia are more often than not the divorces of whites just to avoid, precisely, the possibility of their arrest in case of trouble. ”

“Sometimes there are warm securities in a bearer’s safe that just need to be dated, assures the detective on his part. If you start getting too close, in no time ownership will be transferred to a trusted third party. And that’s it!” A bad ploy by the French authorities who promised to take control of the villas and yachts of Putin’s relatives. For now, Percy refuses to make a list of frozen Russian assets. Bruno Le Maire simply indicated a total amount of frozen assets of 850 million euros. Enough to make our luxury real estate professional smile, noting that a few years ago one of these few was willing to pay half a billion euros to buy Leopolda in Villefranche.

2250€ Amazing price for a villa in Cap Ferrat!

To gauge the extent of land concealment on a large scale, it is sufficient to dive into the murky waters of the laws of these companies. Those of the SCI “Mas de Quinson” for example. This entity has a beautiful villa in the heart of Pointe Saint-Hospice. She bought it in 2012 from another company called Navad which is based in Luxembourg. However, SCI “Mas de Quinson” is itself 99% owned by Navad.

The transferor is only the transferee…Moreover it is the seller who has paid the amount of the acquisition! A little over 15 million euros. Added to it after two years 6 million to finance the work. Here again, the Luxembourg company is taking out the checkbook. In the meantime, the villa in Cap Ferrat has been rented to the C. couple without the rental amount appearing. In any case, it has not been used to pay off the purchase of this house for a few years after that, SCI “Mas de Quinson” still owes more than 18 million euros with Navad in Luxembourg.

This is when a new transaction occurs. In favor of Miss C., who is definitely twenty years younger than the previous tenants but oddly enough of the same surname. Since SCI has not paid its debts, the selling price of this villa in Cap Ferrat has been set at … 2,250 euros! The transfer fee should not be too high. One can easily imagine that C.’s husbands donated their home to their daughter at little cost. Anyway, that seems to be what emerges between the lines, but proving it would be an entirely different matter.

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