Russia’s wealthiest have lost billions of dollars since the beginning of the year, as Western sanctions against the country over its involvement in Ukraine continue tightening their grip over the weak economy.
Russia’s 19 billionaires have lost $14.5 billion since January, data from the Bloomberg Billionaires Index shows. America’s 64 billionaires have gained $56.5 billion over the same time period.
Alisher Usmanov, Russia’s richest man who amassed his fortune through steel and iron ore mining, has lost $2.5 billion so far this year, dragging his net worth down nearly 13 percent to $17.7 billion. Russian steel tycoon Vladimir Lisin has lost $2.4 billion, nearly 17 percent of his net worth, and businessman Andrey Melnichenko has lost $2.1 billion, about 14 percent of the value of his assets. The highest gain of any Russian billionaire is $1 billion.
Bill Gates, the former chief executive of Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT), has already upped his net worth by $6 billion this year, though other Americans have lost billions. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) has lost $3.4 billion so far this year.
Russian billionaires speaking anonymously told Bloomberg that their country’s most elite circle of businessmen are increasingly frantic that President Vladimir Putin’s policies in Ukraine will lead to more crippling sanctions.
“But even if sanctions are not tightened further, the Russian economy is likely to be hit hard by fresh weakness in financial markets and by the growing reluctance of Western companies and banks to do business with what risks becoming a pariah state,” Julian Jessop, chief global economist of London-based Capital Economics, told IBTimes. “Russia will try and look East instead, but then risks being left dependent on China's demand for commodities. China will have all the power here.”
Russian stocks fell 1.4 percent on Monday, continuing the past week’s 5 percent slide to one-month lows and a 12 percent drop since January.