Sergei Victoravitch Pugachev is one of a group of shadowy ex Chekhists and secret service people around Putin from his home town of St Petersburg, such as fellow banker Vladimir Kogan and the oilmen Gennady Timchenko and Yevgeny Malov.
Sergei Pugachev – has been successful in avoiding attention . In 1992 he became chairman of the board of directors of the International Industrial Bank (Mezhprombank MPB). Eleonora Razdorskaya, previously served as vice president of Mezhprombank (MPB). In November 2001, "Novaya gazeta" (at the time owned by British citizen Boris Berezovsky) described her as the right hand of Pugachev when she worked at MPB.
This glamorous lady was said to handle all major financial flows of the bank and later became a business partner of Peter Berlin as co-manager of an offshore venture. It was Berlin's Benex company was featured in the Bank of New York (BONY) multi billion dollar money-laundering scandal.
A 2003 report from the European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control, affiliated with the United Nations (HEUNI) reported
An FBI agent, seconded to Russia and involved in the overall investigation of money-laundering throughBONY, said that “Mezhprombank of Russia and its head Pugachev are probably directly concerned with the money laundering.We are aware of a whole series of dubious transfers of big amounts of money and quite possibly we may have some questions we would like Pugachev to reply to. The questions will not only be related toBONY, but also with connections to the Russian mafia.”
Sergei enjoys displaying his orthodox religiosity and this is said to explain his ties to Putin's circle as apart from his close ties to Patriarch Aleksii, the two men are said to share the same confessor, Father Tikhon Shevkunov. The Patriarch along with 3 other members of the Moscow Synod are claimed to have been KGB agents. Patriarch Aleksii II (agent code-name "Drozdov"); Metropolitan Iuvenalii of Krutitsy ("Adament"); Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk ("Mikhailov")the head of the Moscow Patriarchate's foreign relations department; and Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk ("Ostrovskii"). The head of the Patriarchate's publications department, Metropolitan Pitirim of Volokolamsk ("Abbat"), was also revealed to be an agent. (If you wish to follow Mafia / Monaco and the Greek Orthodox Church and accusations of child abuse start here)
Putin is perceived to be a committed Orthodox believer. On the 10th anniversary of Patriarch Aleksii II’s election, Putin recognised the Church’s ‘enormous role in the spiritual unification of the Russian land after many years of life without faith, moral degradation and atheism’ and acknowledged the Church’s ‘traditional mission as a key force in promoting social stability and moral unity around moral priorities of justice, patriotism, good works, constructive labour and family values’. In 2004, Putin made clear the link between Russian Orthodoxy and the Russian nation despite the fact that Russia is a secular country, stating: ‘Of course, our church is separated from the state. But in the people’s souls everything is together’.
In 2001, Pugachev entered the government: he was elected senator representing the government of Tuva in the Federation Council, and as a result he had to resign his position as chairman of MPB's board of directors. The bank subsequently made an official announcement that Pugachev owned no more than 5% of the shares in either the bank or its affiliates.
He however controls the bank.
Not without difficulties as the French authorities (according to Le Monde in 2002) suspect Pugachev and his Mezhprombank in money laundering through French Monaco accounts and firms. Investigations proved vast multimillion deposits by the devout banker and structures connected with him to the Azure Shore and Monaco.
Therefore it is fascinating to see that Sergei tells us that he has just splashed out "more than one billion euros", on luxury French retail company Hediard , via Luxadvor his Luxembourg-based firm. The previous former owner, was a Monagesque born businessman and property owner and developer, Michel Pastor.
Hediard is one of Europe's oldest retailers , a temple of haute gastronomie and was founded by Chartres born Ferdinand Hediard in Paris in 1854. It also one of the continent's leading retailers in luxury-class items.
The company has 320 outlets, including cafes, shops and restaurants, in more than 30 countries, including Russia. Each of Hediard's 6,000 products symbolizes “Quality, Reliability and Tradition”... they claim.This year Hediard was awarded the certification of "Entreprise du Patrimoine Vivant" (living heritage company) by Renaud Dutreil, French Minister for Small and Medium-size Businesses.
Hediard's president Dominique Richard claims the legendary chain will stick to its traditions despite its change in ownership.
“First of all, Hediard is a French company. Secondly, the financial holding of Hediard has been bought by a European company based in Luxembourg. And if the owner of this company is Russian, it is very good for everybody. But it is very important to know that Hediard will continue to produce in France and be based in France with all its know-how concentrated in France,” he said.
So that's alright then.