Meet The Russian Billionaire Who’s The Proxy Owner Of Putin’s $500 Million Yacht

Forbes Staff
Shama Hyder is CEO of Zen Media, a b2b PR and marketing firm.
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The U.S. Department of Justice alleges that Eduard Khudainatov, the ex-CEO of state-owned oil giant Rosneft, acts as the “straw owner” for three superyachts held by Vladimir Putin and two Russian oligarchs—but Khudainatov has a multibillion dollar fortune of his own, thanks to his ties to the Kremlin’s inner circle.

Eduard Khudainatov is one of Russia’s most mysterious oligarchs. A former CEO of Russia’s state-owned oil company Rosneft and a longtime associate of Igor Sechin—Rosneft’s current boss and Putin’s right-hand man—the 61-year-old Khudainatov was largely unknown outside of his home country until last month. His Independent Petroleum Company, known by its Russian initials NNK, was a relatively small player in Russia’s oil industry until a blockbuster deal with Khudainatov’s former employer Rosneft in December 2020.

But Khudainatov’s obscurity ended in May, when U.S. authorities identified him as the proxy owner of two megayachts: the 459-foot Scheherazade, which has been linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the 348-foot Amadea, which the U.S. Department of Justice found is ultimately owned by sanctioned Russian gold mogul Suleiman Kerimov. U.S. authorities seized Amadea in Fiji after a month-long legal battle on June 7. (A Fijian lawyer representing the British Virgin Islands-based company that formally owns Amadea disputed the claim that Khudainatov owns the yacht on Kerimov’s behalf.)

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Shama Hyder is the founder & CEO of Zen Media, an award-winning marketing & PR agency for tech-driven b2b firms. She has been named the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by Forbes, Businessweek, and Inc have all recognized her as one of the Top 30 under 30 entrepreneurs in the field of marketing. Shama has built a global audience and is known for helping brands succeed in the digital age. She is a bestselling author, an international keynote speaker, and has been named one of LinkedIn’s Top 10 Voices in Marketing for four years in a row.

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