Russian official's son evades sanctions with help from Norwegian diplomat's offspring

Andrey Patrushev, the younger son of Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of the Security Council of Russia, who is involved in offshore exploration projects, has managed to circumvent sanctions imposed on him due to the war in Ukraine. An investigation by Dossier Center in collaboration with Norwegian publication Stavanger Aftenbladet revealed that he was assisted by Gunnar Nordsletten, the son of a Norwegian diplomat. Nordsletten's company provided vessels crucial for undertakings just before fighting erupted in a deal aiding Patrushev's purchase of a drilling company.

As of February 24, 2022, Andrey Patrushev was sanctioned by the United States and soon after divested his stakes in the Maritime Arctic Geological Exploration Expedition (MAGE) to protect the organization from the blacklist – having acquired 37.77% of its shares in October 2020.

The investigation stated that Andrey Patrushev attempted to conceal his erstwhile shareholding in the firm. Tax service data suggests the security council secretary's son never received MAGE remuneration, but payments were directed to "Alexey Golubev", who shares the same birth date, taxpayer identification number, and passport number as Andrey Patrushev. Golubev, as the investigators write, is a pseudonym used in the Federal Tax Service database, with similar secrecy employed for his father, Nikolai Patrushev.

Andrey Patrushev's share in MAGE transitioned to Neva Invest, a firm withholding its shareholders' identities. Banking records and associated legal entities indicate its beneficiary is Andrey Dovnarovich, who hails from Minsk and whose father served in the KGB. Recently, Dovnarovich held a chief IT department position at Gazprom Neft Shelf – under Patrushev's management. Dossier concludes he's likely a proxy owner, figuring prominently among those close to Patrushev.

Furthermore, it's revealed that Neva Invest contributed 25.5 million rubles ($280,000) to Patrushev's non-commercial organization, "Arctic Initiatives", which aims to develop the Arctic – indeed, the business nerve center of Andrey Patrushev’s company holdings.

Gunnar Nordsletten, the Norwegian diplomat's son Oivind Nordsletten, has been in Moscow for two decades, having built a business with support from his father-in-law: in 2011, he married Anastasia Levinzon, daughter of the ex-deputy governor of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug and an initial Novatek founder and board participant, Joseph Levinzon, who also had close ties with the holding's co-owner Leonid Mikhelson. Despite Mikhelson's denial of Levinzon's stakeholding in Novatek and the lack of its influence on the organization, it was Levinzon in 2003 who authorized the share transfer to Novatek of the company owning the Southerm-Tambeyskoye field license, which would later be developed under the Yamal LNG project.

Gunnar Nordsletten's company, Sevnor, emerged in Cyprus in 2012 and by the early 2020s had acquired several Russian legal entities, operated eight ships, and serviced the gas holding's fields. The formal owner of Sevnor, hidden among others, is Argali Holdings, registered in the British Virgin Islands. In January 2023, Sevnor petitioned Norwegian authorities to enter port for one vessel and provided final beneficiary paperwork alleging Argali Holdings belongs to Gunnar Nordsletten.

Post-war, Sevnor organizationally split, divested from Russian subsidiaries, renamed to Marvik Shipping, but didn't sever Russia ties entirely. Now five ships remain, supporting Russian oil and gas field operations. According to Marvik Shipping reports and Russian ship registry data, at least two are linked with Patrushev's Maritime Expedition.

Marvik Shipping has been under US sanctions since February 2023. Responding to Stavanger Aftenbladet's inquiry, Nordsletten mentioned post-war Europe's ban on Russian-flagged vessels and Russia's export embargo on ships. He said, "Therefore, European authorities provided temporary permission to operate ships in Russia until a solution is found." He claimed his Marvik Shipping sold all ships in November-December 2023; however, the Russian ship register lacks evidence of ownership or freight agreement changes.

Patrushev Jr.'s and Nordsletten's business intersected elsewhere. In January 2022, "Aurora" acquired 10% of Cyprus offshore IGS—the parent company of Investgeoservice group—for over 400 million rubles, with rights to acquire another 25.4% of shares. IGS possesses over 30 drilling rigs, and is a major Novatek contractor. Formally owned by Roman Ivanov, Stavanger Aftenbladet discovered leaked documents, indicating Ivanov as a nominee owner, and Gunnar Nordsletten as the true beneficiary.

The diplomat's son told Stavanger Aftenbladet his involvement with IGS ceased between December 2021 and February 2022, denying any relationship or that Roman Ivanov acted in his interest—a claim contradicted by the Cyprus Confidential leaks. Aurora remains in the Cypriot registry as a co-owner of IGS. Market insiders link the firm to Andrey Patrushev.

  Russia, Patrushev, Norway