A group of United States Senators — including both Republicans and Democrats — want to know how much money Russian President Vladimir Putin really has to his name, and the lawmakers are now drafting legislation that would expose Putin's true net worth, according to a report by Newsweek on Friday. If the bill is passed and Putin's actual wealth is exposed, the future is likely to show that Putin is rich beyond Donald Trump's wildest dreams, at least according to previous estimates of the Russian strongman's holdings.
The bill, titled the Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act of 2018, is being sponsored by three Republicans — Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Cory Gardner of Colorado, and John McCain of Arizona — and three Democrats, who are Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Ben Cardin of Maryland, according to an announcement on Graham's official Senate site.
The bill calls for strengthened sanctions on Russia and specifically on "political figures, oligarchs, and family members and other persons that facilitate illicit and corrupt activities, directly or indirectly, on behalf of Vladimir Putin." And in another key provision, the bill would require "a report on the net worth and assets of Vladimir Putin," according to the summary posted by Graham.
But what would that report reveal? According to a report by CNN Money, Putin has a relatively paltry $243,000 in the bank and has collected about $676,000 in salary since 2012. But experts on Putin's regime put his true worth at far more than those figures. In fact, if the unofficial estimates are correct, Putin is the richest man on the face of Planet Earth — and not by a little, but by a lot.
In congressional testimony last year, businessman Bill Browder — a fierce Putin critic who was formerly Russia's single largest foreign investor, until he ran afoul of Putin's regime — estimated Putin's net worth at approximately $200 million, according to a Voice of America report.
If Browder's figure is accurate, Putin's wealth would put him a staggering $50 billion ahead of the man generally recognized as the world's richest, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, whose net worth is believed to be about $150 billion, Bloomberg News has reported.
Another expert on Putin's career, Russian political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky, sees Putin's wealth coming in at more modest figure — about $70 billion, "based on claims that Putin owns shares in three major oil and gas companies: 4.5% of national gas giant Gazprom, 37% of oil supplier Surgutneftegas and a major shareholder of a company that cannot be named for legal reasons," according to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
If Belkovsky has it right, Putin would rank as the world's sixth-richest person, according to a list compiled by Britain's Independent newspaper, just a couple billion behind Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Based on those estimates, how would the net worth of Vladimir Putin compare to the wealth of Donald Trump? Because Trump has released very little information about his personal finances, the answer is difficult to say. But even by Trump's own claim that he is worth $10 billion, according to Time, Putin's wealth would dwarf Trump's.
However, while the business magazine Fortune estimates Trump's net worth as low as $2.8 billion, journalist David Cay Johnston — the author of two books on Trump — has written that there is "not now and never has been a shred of verifiable evidence that Trump is or ever was a billionaire," as The Inquisitr reported. In fact, Johnston has written, Trump may actually not have any actual wealth at all — only the appearance of wealth, because "his fortune is really just massive cash flow, not wealth."