Russian oligarch resigns from parliament after National Post investigation reveals Israeli citizenship, Canadian assets

National Post

A Russian oligarch who has maintained high-level influence in Moscow since the close of the Cold War resigned his seat in Russian parliament Tuesday after the National Post revealed he held dual citizenship and had extensive assets in Canada.

Vitaly Malkin tried for almost 20 years to relocate to Canada, investing millions in Toronto, but had been turned away over alleged ties to organized crime. During his failed immigration process he told Canadian officials he had Israeli citizenship and extensive foreign investments.

The Post revealed his past on March 5 and the news ignited a storm of controversy in Moscow because Russian law bars lawmakers from holding dual citizenship and owning undeclared foreign investments.

Mr. Malkin, once listed as one of the world’s wealthiest men, held a seat in the Russian upper house since 2004.

In announcing his resignation from the senate, Mr. Malkin said he has done nothing wrong. He told Russian media he no longer holds Israeli citizenship and was resigning to protect the image of the senate.

“The main accusation is that I was an Israeli citizen in the capacity of the senator,” Mr. Malkin said, according to Itar-Tass, a Russian state news agency. He said he renounced his Israeli citizenship after the rules on holding foreign citizenship changed and before he embarked on another term in senate.

“As far as I understand, I am not an Israeli citizen since August 2007,” he said.

Mr. Malkin said he was the victim of a smear campaign by foreigners motivated by his controversial lobbying in Washington, D.C., this summer against the Magnitsky Act, a U.S. law imposing sanctions against Russian officials involved in the 2009 death of Sergei Magnitsky.

(Mr. Magnitsky was a Russian lawyer who accused government officials of corruption on behalf of American investor Bill Browder, head of Hermitage Capital Management. His death in Russian custody is a source of significant friction between the U.S. and Russia.)

“This dirty campaign in the mass media was most likely paid for by someone. I will get to the bottom of the matter,” Mr. Malkin told RIA Novosti, a state-owned news agency.

“We believe that the Hermitage Capital investment fund masterminded this campaign,” Mr. Malkin told Itar-Tass.

He also said former business associates abroad could be involved in the plot.

“I am ready to assure you that I will file a lawsuit against all those who masterminded this campaign and will deal with them until the full exposure of all details,” Mr. Malkin said, according to Itar-Tass.

Mr. Browder denied the accusation, saying: “I had nothing to do with any campaign involving Vitaly Malkin.”

The Post’s independent investigation found that Mr. Malkin, 60, applied for permanent residence status in Canada on Aug. 29, 1994, expressing his intent to start a business here and obtain Canadian citizenship.

On Nov. 4, 1994, his Toronto immigration lawyer wrote to Canadian citizenship officials asking that Mr. Malkin’s application be changed to reflect him being an Israeli citizen instead. Mr. Malkin, who is Jewish, made a subsequent application noting he also has a Hebrew name, Avihur Ben Bar.

After his residency application was refused over government concerns he had links to organized crime, he refuted the government’s claims and continued to press for entry to Canada, leading to years of litigation and him winning court appeals for new immigration hearings.

In 1997, Canada’s border officials issued an alert that Mr. Malkin might try to enter Canada using his Israeli passport.

Mr. Malkin told immigration officials he owned three properties in Toronto, including an office tower that he bought for $2.75-million and renovated into a residential and commercial complex.

He denied all allegations of criminal ties and has not been charged or convicted of any crime, he earlier told the Post.

Last year, after almost two decades of legal wrangling, he was granted a temporary permit to visit Canada. In November, Mr. Malkin was in Toronto dealing with ongoing lawsuits with former business associates.

He also met with prominent Canadians on Parliament Hill, where he discussed his ability to help reveal the fate of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat hailed as a hero for saving thousands of Jews during the Holocaust before disappearing in Soviet custody.

Pressure on Mr. Malkin mounted after Russian-language media in Canada noted the Post’s story and a well-known Moscow-based opposition critic, Aleksei Navalny, published the information online.

A Moscow daily newspaper, Moskovsky Komsomolets, then made a request for parliament to investigate the information.

Valentina Matviyenko, senate speaker, said “an unbiased detailed investigation” would be conducted and, “if these facts are confirmed he is to quit the Federation Council,” Itar-Tass reported.

Mr. Malkin’s resignation ends the senate’s probe.

Mr. Malkin could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Requests for comment from his lawyer in Toronto went unanswered by deadline.

Alla Kadysh, editor-in-chief of the Toronto-based Gazeta Plus and host of a Russian-language radio talk show, said Russian expats in Canada followed the National Post story on Mr. Malkin closely.

“Some Russians living here still follow Russian politics more than Canadian politics,” she said.

“Mostly people are surprised because everybody is thinking that nothing done here can have any effect on Russian politics. Even in Russia, people think they can’t have any effect on Russian politics, so people are surprised.”

Mr. Malkin made a fortune as the Soviet Union dissolved, founding one of the first private banks. He became a close business ally of Boris Yeltsin, the first post-Soviet president and is one of the few oligarchs from that era to remain prominent under the current presidency of Vladimir Putin. hairy woman займ онлайн https://zp-pdl.com https://zp-pdl.com/get-a-next-business-day-payday-loan.php микрозаймы онлайн

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