Putin Calls on Moscow Airports to Reveal Owners’ Identities

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, July 3, 2013) ­ All Moscow airports must disclose their beneficiary owners as part of a plan to create a unified aviation hub for the capital, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday, in a move that appears to put pressure on Domodedovo airport whose beneficiary owners have refused to reveal themselves.

“It is essential that all the participants in the project are on Russian territory and with known beneficiary owners,” Putin told top officials at a meeting about the development of Moscow’s airports, according to a transcript on the Kremlin website.

Privately-owned Domodedovo is Russia’s busiest airport and, while billionaires Dmitry Kamenshchik and Valery Kogan, the chairman of the airport’s board of directors and supervisory board respectively, are widely thought to be the beneficiary owners, they have declined to publicly confirm this assumption.

In documentation submitted prior to a failed initial public offering (IPO) in 2011, Domodedovo was shown to be controlled through holding companies registered in the Isle of Man, and Kamenshchik was listed as the beneficiary owner of DME Limited, which owns and operates Domodedovo. DME Limited has consistently maintained that Russian law does not oblige it to disclose the company’s beneficial owner.

Sheremetyevo and Vnukovo, the second and third largest airports in Moscow, which are also included in the plans for an aviation hub, are state-owned.

Putin said that transparency over Moscow’s airports was an essential requirement for their successful integration.

“It is important to clearly understand who, at whose expense, and in what quantity will finance the development of airport infrastructure, and for what they ultimately answer for,” said Putin.

It is not the first time the authorities have attempted to reveal Domodedovo’s ownership structure.

In the wake of the January 2011 Domodedovo airport bombing, then-President Dmitry Medvedev criticized the airport’s management, and a subsequent investigation by prosecutors found that the management had created a”system” to conceal the owners’ identities.