Russian and US Oligarchs Funnel Money to Charity for Personal and Political Gain

Wealthy donors use many loopholes in our charitable system to reap personal financial gain or to shape public policy.

Russian oligarchs close to President Vladimir Putin are facing renewed scrutiny and sanctions. These oligarchs have shifted trillions of wealth out of their mother country to offshore tax havens, with holdings in U.K. and U.S. real estate and other investments. But they are also funneling millions into U.S. charities.

Russian oligarch donations, whether intentional or not, cast a rosier glow on the oligarchs’ own reputations; keep them connected to powerful Americans even when their companies are under sanction; and potentially even give them a voice in shaping U.S. attitudes and policy toward Russia.

When Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, it drew heightened attention to the political conduct of both Putin and the ultra-wealthy business leaders who surround and support him. A comprehensive investigation into the charitable giving of these oligarchs by the Anti-Corruption Data Collective (ACDC), of which the Institute for Policy Studies is part of, now puts their philanthropic conduct under scrutiny as well.

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