Tax leaks expose the huge salaries of state company bosses

The Bell

A leak of Russian tax data for 2020 enabled researchers to work out the incomes of the directors of two leading state companies – Rosneft boss Igor Sechin, and the head of one of Russia’s biggest banks, VTB’s Andrei Kostin. Both received salaries huge enough to cover the annual budget of a Russian city.

  • In 2020, Igor Sechin was paid 3.32 billion rubles, or $46 billion at the exchange rate of the time, reported researchers among the staff of opposition figure Alexei Navalny. That’s equivalent to the budget for a city of 50,000 people.
  • Moreover, Sechin’s income for 2020 was several times greater than the salaries paid to bosses of similar international oil companies that year. The bosses of Exxon, Shell and BP were paid $15.6 billion, $7 billion, and $2.4 billion respectively. The head of Chevron earned $29 billion.
  • Navalny’s supporters found that Sechin’s tax details are hidden under a pseudonym (Terentiev, Sergei Andreyevich). This is common practice for officials, heads of state corporations and their families. The tax records also have pseudonyms for, among others, the son of deputy FSB chief Boris Korolev, and Sechin’s son Ivan.
  • As well as Sechin, iStories found the records for VTB boss Andrei Kostin. In 2020, he was paid 11.4 billion rubles, or $158.73 billion. The tax data does not specify details of these payments, so it is unclear how much of Kostin’s money was his salary and how much came in dividends, bonuses, etc.
  • Kostin was paid more than the directors of leading global banks. The head of JPMorgan Chase received $35 billion, the head of Bank of America got $24.5 billion.

Why the world should care

In Russia, heads of state companies receive far more than their counterparts at leading international companies in the same spheres. It’s hard to say how much of this money is earned, but one thing is clear -– Russia is one of Europe’s most corrupt countries.


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