We discovered the family of Igor Shuvalov, Russia’s former deputy first prime minister, owned a villa on Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah worth around $8m.

Through public records searches and correspondence with the family’s spokesman, we were able to trace the chains of ownership which linked a Mayfair company and various members of the Shuvalov family.

Ownership structures shifted through time as the villa was gifted between members of the family informed by new rules governing foreign company ownership were introduced in Russia.

We initially established the Shuvalov family ownership of the Dubai villa thanks to leaked files shared with C4ADS, a US non-profit which analyzes data, and reports on global conflict and transnational security issues. These files were investigated by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and Finance Uncovered.

This story taught us much about the distinctions of beneficial and legal ownership, the legal implications of Putin’s “de-offshorisation” drive, and how a villa’s proximity to the tip of a frond increases its value.

Or, as we put it, How to inherit a villa, Kremlin style.

Read our story here.

Posted by Margot Gibbs

Margot Gibbs was until December 2020 an investigative journalist at Finance Uncovered specialising in UK facilitation of corruption, natural resources and the environment. She has covered corruption in the Nigerian oil industry for Africa Confidential, revealed secret contracts underpinning a private tax haven in the Marshall Islands, and produced critically-acclaimed radio for BBC Radio 4. Working with NGOs, she has investigated corruption in the arms industry and the London property market, financing of environmentally destructive palm oil projects in Indonesia, and conflicts of interest in the UK accounting regulator. She is an expert in obtaining documents via freedom of information laws and has uncovered stories which have provoked policy changes in the UK and internationally.