Two Russian state-owned companies have invested hundreds of millions of dollars on Facebook and Twitter in recent years through Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, according to the Paradise Papers investigation published on Sunday dozens of media outlets around the world.
The revelation comes at a time when the United States Senate Intelligence Committee is investigating how Russian operators have used Facebook, Google, Twitter and other social networks to try to sow division and misinformation during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The “New York Times” and “The Guardian” newspapers, two of the media outlets that participated in the research coordinated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism (ICIJ) on tax haven business, reported on Milner’s participations on Facebook and Twitter.
Also Read about it on Washington Post and Wikipedia.
Milner’s Twitter investment had support of U$D 191 million from the VTB, a Russian state-owned bank often used for political strategies in 2011, according to the Times.
As for Facebook, about U$D 1 billion of the money that Milner invested came from the Russian state financial institution Gazprom Investholding, which is sanctioned by the United States, equal to VTB.
Milner’s companies have managed to control more than 8% of Facebook and 5% of Twitter, and although it has sold these shares five and three years ago respectively, it continues to invest in other giants in the technology sector, according to the new newspaper -orquino.
Milner is currently investing in a real estate project called Cadre and founded by Jared Kushner, son-in-law and senior adviser to US President Donald Trump.
Despite this, the Russian investor said in an interview with “The Guardian” that he only saw Kushner once, with whom he had a cocktail party in the US last year, and who invested in his business for pure commercial reasons.
He also said that funds from the VTB did not allow him to politically influence Twitter owners and that he did not know that his investment in Facebook was benefiting from Gazprom Investholding’s funds, as the company channeled the transaction through an opaque company into a tax haven.
“I’m not involved in political activities,” Milner said.
In turn, VTB and Gazprom assured the Times that their transactions were not motivated by political considerations.
The Paradise Papers documents come from a leaked document from Appleby and Asiatici Trust, received by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, from 19 jurisdictions on the OECD list of tax havens.