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Ruben Vardanyan is a Russian investment banker, social entrepreneur, philanthropist and has spoken at the World Economic Forum in Davos. He was also the president, chief executive officer and principal partner of Troika Dialog, which grew to become Russia’s largest investment bank.
The gregarious Russian/Armenian spent the mid-2000s in the center of his country’s business community cultivating the image of a progressive businessman working in the Byzantine world of Russian capitalism. He enjoyed a reputation as one of Russia’s most progressive and Western-friendly voices.
By 2010, he was attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, an annual conclave of some of the most influential heads of state, business, and academia in the world. In an interview before the event in 2011, Vardanyan argued that financial institutions should do business more openly.
“It will be crucial, for a world which is multicultural … to [establish] some transparency mechanism [and] disclosure of important information,” he said.
Vardanyan has served on numerous corporate boards, including those of the Bank of Moscow; Rosgosstrakh, one of Russia’s largest insurers; and Joule Unlimited, an American energy company backed by Russian money. (John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s former campaign chief, was also a member). Internationally, his affiliations have included the Economic Advisory Board of the International Finance Corporation (the private-sector arm of the World Bank Group).
Vandanyan also has launched many philanthropic projects, particularly in Armenia and Russia. He founded Initiatives for Development of Armenia, a charitable organization intending to develop his home country; and is rebuilding Armenia’s Tatev monastery.
“Ruben is literally rebuilding the Armenian economy with his leadership,”a Forbes contributor wrote in a 2016 column.
Collaborating with Not On Our Watch, an organization founded by George Clooney, Vardanyan in 2015 helped to establish the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity. Awarded on behalf of survivors of the Armenian genocide, it recognizes individuals who advance humanitarian causes.
Records from the Troika Laundromat leak show that employees at his bank built and ran the Troika Laundromat, an all-purpose financial system that took in US$4.6 billion from 2006 through early 2013.
Vardanyan said he is not aware of any criminal activity with his bank and that Troika Dialog worked according to the rules of the international markets at the time. There is no known investigation into Vardanyan or Troika Dialog on this issue and there are no charges against Vardanyan.
Documents show Vardanyan used the Laundromat himself. He explained it saying he too was a client of Troika Dialog.
More than $3.2 million was used to pay for his American Express card, went to accounts belonging to his wife and family and paid school fees for his three children in Great Britain.
Vardanyan told OCCRP that he was “no angel,” but said he did his best to follow his principles in a challenging business and political environment.
It operated under Vardanyan’s leadership until 2012, when it was purchased by Sberbank, the nation’s largest state-owned lender.