People from Putin's circle among investors in Lithuania's fridge maker Snaige

  • 2022-08-18
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – A Russian investment fund created with the money of oligarchs Viktor Vekselberg and Alexander Mamut is among investors in Snaige, the Baltics' only refrigerator manufacturer indirectly controlled by Russia's Polair Group, the public broadcaster LRT reported on Thursday.

Data collected by LRT's investigative journalism team shows that the Russian Retail Growth Fund, which controls Snaige via Cyprus, is linked to Mamut and Vekselberg, who are said to be part of Russian President Vladimir Putin's inner circle. Vekselberg has been under international sanctions since 2018 for his support to the Kremlin regime.

Available information also shows that Snaige's Russian shareholders used the Lithuanian company as a loan bank after acquiring it a decade ago. Lending money to Russian businesses were part of the share purchase deal, and Snaige has only recovered 2 million euros of the more than 11 million euros loaned to its Russian shareholders.

The refrigerator manufacturer, based in the southern Lithuanian town of Alytus, is currently seeking to restructure. It posted a loss of 2 million euros for 2021, versus a net profit of 256,000 euros in 2020, on revenue of 32.9 million euros, up by 14.4 percent year-on-year. 

Snaige is majority owned by Sekenora Holdings, a Cyprus-registered company that is indirectly controlled by Polair.