Former Kremlin banker: Putin 'is the richest person in the world until he leaves power'

Vladimir PutinREUTERS/Sergei KarpukhinRussia’s President Vladimir Putin toasts during a ceremony of receiving diplomatic credentials from foreign ambassadors at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, May 28, 2015.

The man who used to be the “Kremlin’s banker” says that as long the Russian president Vladimir Putin remains in power, he’s the richest person in the world.

“Everything that belongs to the territory of the Russian Federation Putin considers to be his,” Sergei Pugachev told The Guardian’s Luke Harding. “Everything — Gazprom, Rosneft, private companies. Any attempt to calculate it won’t succeed.

“He’s the richest person in the world until he leaves power.”

Although Putin’s exact wealth is unclear, hedge fund manager Bill Browder previously estimated it at $US200 billion during an interview with CCN’s Fareed Zakaria.

(As a reference point, that would make Putin 2.5 times as rich as Bill Gates, who is considerd to be the world’s richest man.)

“After 14 years in power of Russia, and the amount of money that the country has made, and the amount of money that hasn’t been spent on schools and roads and hospitals and so on — all that money is in property, Swiss bank accounts, shares, [and] hedge funds managed for Putin and his cronies.”

The “first eight or 10 years about reign over Russia was about stealing as much money that he could,” Browder added.

Pugachev said Putin’s immense wealth is not an accident.

“Putin wanted get rich, too. He was a pragmatic person,” he added. “We talked about this. He didn’t want to leave office poor.”

Back during Putin’s first two terms, Pugachev was a big player in Moscow. He founded Mezhpromback (International Industrial Bank) in Moscow in 1992, and soon known as the “Kremlin’s banker.” He even claims to have been one-third of threesome that put Putin into power.

However, relations between Putin and Pugachev soured in 2010, and he ultimately fled to London in 2011.

Putin pugachevReuters photographerPutin and Pugachev, photo dated July 28, 2000.

The fact that, as per Pugachev, Putin considers everything in Russia “to be his” might seem shocking, but it’s important to note that the concept of property rights in Putin’s Russia is rather different from that of the West.

“A prominent businessman … said that Mr. Putin had eroded the very notion of property rights in Russia, even for those who displayed fealty. He said that Mr. Putin himself had described private ownership of strategic industries with the Russia word to roost.

“‘A chicken can exercise ownership of eggs, and it can get fed while it’s sitting on the egg,’ he said, ‘but it’s not really their egg,'” according to the New York Times.

NOW WATCH: 6 compelling correlations that make absolutely no sense

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.