Vinci concession exposed as cover for oligarchs and tax havens in Russia’s first road PPP
An opaque web of offshore companies and oligarchs behind the controversial Moscow–St. Petersburg motorway public-private partnership provides new grounds for the Russian government to re-examine the project, according to new research by CEE Bankwatch Network and the Movement to Defend Khimki Forest, published today.
30 April 2011
An opaque web of offshore companies and oligarchs behind the controversial Moscow–St. Petersburg motorway public-private partnership provides new grounds for the Russian government to re-examine the project, according to new research by CEE Bankwatch Network and the Movement to Defend Khimki Forest, published today. 
“The concession-holder – the North West Concession company (NWCC), led by French construction giant Vinci – consists of a whole network of companies, ending up in the British Virgin Islands, where it is impossible to obtain information about shareholders”, explains Pippa Gallop, Bankwatch’s Research Co-ordinator. “These complex set-ups seem to be aimed at hiding the true beneficiaries of NWCC’s lucrative contract, which is unacceptable enough in any case but especially in a publicly funded infrastructure project.”
“Nevertheless, the research has confirmed the involvement of Prime Minister Putin’s reported associate Arkady Rotenberg “, she continues. “This obviously raises questions about the integrity of the 2008 tender process, in which only one bidder qualified, and about the Russian government’s December 2010 decision to continue with the disputed routing through Khimki Forest near Moscow, after President Medvedev had called a halt to preparatory works in late August.”
A new agreement for the EUR 1.5 billion  first section of the Moscow–St. Petersburg motorway (km 15-58) public-private partnership is due to be signed with concession-holder the North West Concession Company – led by French construction giant Vinci – in May.
“The Russian public deserves answers to the questions raised by the research before it considers going any further with the project”, said Mikhail Matveev of the Movement to Defend Khimki Forest. “The government must re-examine its choice of concessionaire, and disclose the concession agreement and whole ownership structure of the company, if this project is to bring benefits to anyone other than the company owners.”
For more information, contact:
Movement to Defend Khimki Forest (English and Russian)
Mobile + 7 965 392 28 14
CEE Bankwatch Research Co-ordinator (English)
Mobile +385 99 755 97 87
Notes for editors:
1. The report about the Vinci concession and its shareholders can be downloaded from the Bankwatch website at https://bankwatch.org/sites/default/files/Vinci_oligarchs_taxhavens_Khimki.pdf
2. Bloomberg: Putin’s Judo-Playing Friend Says Premier Didn’t Help Him Win Gazprom Deals, 28 April 2010
Reuters: Putin’s judo partner jumps in Russia’s rich list, 15 February 2011
3. European Investment Bank project document, 11.11.2009: http://www.eib.org/projects/pipeline/2007/20070489.htm
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Institution: EBRD | EIB
Project: Moscow – St.Petersburg motorway PPP, Russian Federation