MOSCOW, April 23 (RIA Novosti) – Russian billionaire and Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich is Russia’s most generous philanthropist, having spent $310 million on charity out of his fortune of $12.8 billion in the past three years, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.
Bloomberg’s calculations show that 46-year-old Abramovich has spent more money on charity than any other of Russia’s 15 wealthiest people in the past three years. Abramovich has lavished $100 million alone on Russia’s easternmost region of Chukotka, of which he was previously the governor, the news agency said.
Overall, the Russian billionaire has donated and invested over $2.5 billion in infrastructure projects in Chukotka, including the construction of schools and hospitals, or about $179 million annually.
It was not clear, however, whether Abramovich, who amassed his wealth under the controversial loans-for-shares auctions in the 1990s under then-President Boris Yeltsin and mostly lives in the UK, has made donations personally or through his investment vehicle Millhouse Capital, or if his donations were part of a tax reduction scheme.
Alisher Usmanov, owner of Metalloinvest metals giant and Russia’s wealthiest businessman, whose fortune is ranked by Forbes at $17.6 billion, has donated $247 million, while Viktor Vekselberg, owner of Renova Group, comes third with donations of $160 million, according to Bloomberg.
In recent years, superrich Russians have started to pay attention to what they can do to change life for the better, Bloomberg said, citing Edward Mermelstein, a New York-based attorney who helped Vekselberg to implement a project to return church bells from Russia’s pre-revolutionary era back home from Harvard University.