Oleg Tinkov, the former billionaire best known for founding Tinkoff Bank, one of the biggest in Russia, was forced to sell his business to billionaire Vladimir Potanin for just 3% of its market value earlier this year. In an interview published last week with The Bell’s founder, Elizaveta Osetinksaya, he attacked his former colleagues, said he would sue Tinkoff Bank for continuing to use his name and condemned the Putin regime.
- Tinkov blamed his former bank colleagues for pressuring him into selling. According to Tinkov, the bank’s management joined Oliver Hughes, co-director of parent company TCS Group, in urging him to sell Tinkoff after his criticism of the war (After the interview was published, Hughes accused Tinkov of slander). Tinkov said Hughes and others started scaring him with tales of the Central Bank’s powers to impose temporary management, as well as official Kremlin displeasure. As a result, Tinkov sold the bank — but his brand remained. Now, Tinkov plans to get a court order forbidding the bank to use his brand. “I don’t want my name to be in Russia,” he said. “I left and I no longer wish to have anything in common with this country.”
- In the interview, Tinkov also said that he is ashamed to be Russian and no longer wants anything in common with Russia. “Some day, Russia will repent, offer reparations to Ukraine, sprinkle ashes on her head and at last carry out something that, unfortunately, did not happen in 1991 – it will recognize Communists and Putinists as criminals. Just like the Germans did.” Earlier this month, Tinkov said that he had renounced his Russian citizenship. If this is true, he is now a Cypriot citizen.
- Among other topics in the interview, Tinkov also offered his thoughts on relations between the U.S. and Russia. He believes that Russia has an Oedipus Complex in respect of the U.S., so Russian politicians are left to ‘envy, reflect and drool’. Tinkov also believes that the Ukraine war is Putin’s responsibility and that Russia will close its borders and introduce martial law by the end of the year.
Why the world should care
Firstly, TCS shares are still traded and the withdrawal of the Tinkoff brand could impact the company’s stock price. Secondly, Tinkov is one of a handful of Russian business people to have publicly condemned the war — and he also attacks those who remain silent. It’s possible that, sooner or later, his words will have an impact on other influential billionaires.