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  • Writer's pictureBy The Financial District

Abramovich Backed Startups That Got Gov't Deals In U.S., UK

Leaked documents reveal that Abramovich invested in seven companies that received government contracts in the US and the UK.


Photo Insert: Abramovich invested in dozens of companies throughout the West over the past two decades.



At least one didn’t even know that Abramovich had invested, pointing to the issues cash-strapped startups face in identifying who is really backing them, Giacomo Tognini reported for Forbes.

In July 2017, the cofounders of Kiana Analytics, a real-time location services startup based in Sunnyvale, California, were looking for investors.



The firm was seeking to pitch convertible notes—a type of debt that converts to equity—to potential investors. One investor was Innes Worldwide Holdings, a firm based in the offshore tax haven of the British Virgin Islands, which put $140,000 into the company.


What Kiana’s founders didn’t know was that Innes was controlled by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.


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"We had no idea that's who it was," Sebastian Andreatta, one of Kiana’s cofounders, tells Forbes.


The transaction appears in leaked documents from a Cyprus-based offshore service provider that were shared anonymously with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and its partners, including Forbes.


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Seven months after that investment, Kiana received a $200,000 grant from the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ​​to develop technology for Customs and Border Protection, the agency that manages ports of entry into the US.


Abramovich invested in dozens of companies throughout the West over the past two decades.


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From 2013 to 2019, he invested at least $22 million in seven firms that later got government contracts in the US and the UK—a drop in the bucket for someone with an estimated net worth of $9.2 billion.


The fact that Kiana’s founders had no idea who was behind the investment points to how difficult it can be for small, cash-strapped startups to identify who is behind the vehicles and funds that back them.


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Abramovich invested through an offshore firm based in the British Virgin Islands, which does not require companies to publicly disclose their beneficial ownership.


Forbes learned of Abramovich’s ownership through the leaked documents, which reveal that Abramovich owned Innes Worldwide through the Proteus Trust, a trust based in Cyprus.


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The Guardian reported in January that Abramovich transferred a 51% stake in Proteus, as well as several other trusts, to his seven children on February 24, 2022—the day Russian forces invaded Ukraine.





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