MOSCOW, October 12 (RIA Novosti) – Russian billionaire Gennady Timchenko was awarded one of France’s highest civil honors Saturday in a ceremony in St Petersburg, according to his spokesperson.
Timchenko, Russia’s 8th richest person according to Forbes Magazine, was presented with the Legion of Honor by Jean de Gliniasty, France’s ambassador in Russia.
“In his speech the ambassador spoke about the big contribution Gennady Timchenko has made to business links between French and Russian business and, in particular, about cooperation with energy company Total in developing the gas resources of Yamal,” said Anton Kurevin, Timchenko’s spokesperson.
Timchenko, who is unable to shake off media reports that he enjoys a close personal relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, is the co-founder of giant energy trading house Gunvor, and owns a large stake in independent gas producer Novatek. He is also the chairman of the Franco-Russian Chamber of Commerce.
French energy company Total and China’s CNPC hold minority stakes in Novatek’s large liquefied natural gas (LNG) project on Russia’s Arctic Yamal peninsula.
Timchenko’s personal fortune has spiralled rapidly over the last decade. Just four years ago Timchenko was worth $400 million, now his personal fortune is estimated to be $14.1 billion, according to Forbes.