After Publicly Criticizing Ukraine War, Russian Billionaire Was Forced To Sell Bank At A Fire Sale Price


At the start of the year, before Russia invaded Ukraine, Oleg Tinkov commanded an impressive $9 billion net worth. The majority of his fortune was attributable to his 35% stake in the bank he founded Tinkoff Bank. Before the war, Tinkoff Bank generated tens of billions per year in revenue as Russia’s largest issuer of credit cards. Before the invasion of Ukraine, Tinkoff Bank’s stock price comfortably traded in the $80-100 range on the London Stock Exchange. Today a single share of Tinkoff Bank would set you back $2.

With the decimation of his company’s stock price, it’s unclear if Oleg Tinkov was even a billionaire anymore. And that’s before what just happened.

After Tinkov publicly criticized the war in Ukraine, he was reportedly forced to sell his shares in Tinkoff Bank to a rival Russian billionaire at a “fire sale price.”

Lars Ronbog/FrontzoneSport via Getty Images

According to Tinkov, the Russian government did not appreciate his statements on social media calling the war “crazy,” and claiming that others in the Russian business world privately agreed with him. What happened next, Tinkov says, is startling.

According to Tinkov, the Russian government ordered Tinkoff Bank (which is operated by TCS) to sever all ties with Tinkov. That essentially required Tinkov part ways with his 35% equity stake in the company that he founded. The Kremlin allegedly forced Oleg to sell his stake in the bank without any negotiation, at a rock bottom price.

The buyer is reported to be Vladimir Potanin, officially Russia’s richest citizen (unofficially, someone else named Vladimir is the world’s richest Russian and maybe the world’s richest person).

As Tinkov puts it:

“I couldn’t discuss the price…It was like a hostage — you take what you are offered. I couldn’t negotiate.”

Because the “agreed upon” price hasn’t been publicly disclosed, we can’t know exactly what the financial consequences of this have been for Tinkov. But we do know that not so long ago at the end of 2020, TCS Group had a reported $11.6 billion in assets, and Tinkov’s own net worth peaked at some $9 billion. But since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, TCS Group and Tinkoff Bank have suffered severe stock market losses, and between that and the forced sale, there’s really no telling how much of a loss he took. One estimate says the sale could have been worth about $225 million – a lot of money, but paltry compared to the billions that his stake was once worth.

This is not the first time Oleg Tinkov has made some eye-popping world news.

In February of 2020 Oleg was arrested in London on charges of concealing part of his fortune from US tax authorities in 2013, when he renounced his US citizenship. In October 2021 Oleg settled charges brought by the IRS, agreeing to pay a whopping $507 million in back-taxes and penalties.

Today Oleg and his family are reportedly living with bodyguards in an unnamed location, presumably to protect themselves from further, and more violent, retaliation from the Russian government.

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