Regulator investigating charity founded by a ‘key supporter of the Kremlin’

06 Jul 2022 News

The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into the Potanin Foundation, after the charity’s founder Vladimir Potanin was sanctioned by the UK government.

According to the charity’s most recently filed accounts, it has assets in excess of £95m. The objectives of the charity are to develop education and culture in Russia.

The charity carries out its objectives by awarding grants principally to support its sister charity in Russia, the Vladimir Potanin Foundation (VPF). 

In March 2019, the trustees signed a grant agreement with the VPF providing funding of up to $50.6m payable over three years. 

Mr Potanin is the charity’s only member and has controlling rights, including trustee appointment and removal, according to the Commission.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) described oligarch Vladimir Potanin, as “Russia’s second richest man and key supporter of the Kremlin” as well as owner of major conglomerate Interros.

An announcement by the FCDO last week said Potanin continues to amass wealth as he “supports Putin’s regime”, acquiring Rosbank, and shares in Tinkoff Bank in the period since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Potanin is now subject to a full asset freeze and his name appears on the ‘UK Sanctions List’ as a designated person.

The Commission’s position is that individuals subject to UK financial sanctions cannot control a charity.

A government spokesperson said: “As long as Putin continues his abhorrent assault on Ukraine, we will use sanctions to weaken the Russian war machine.”

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