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更新时间:2017-11-7 11:21:15 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Kremlin Cash Behind Billionaire’s Twitter and Facebook Investments

In fall 2010, the Russian billionaire investor Yuri Milner took the stage for a Q&A at a technology conference in San Francisco. Milner, whose holdings have included major stakes in Facebook and Twitter, is known for expounding on everything from the future of social media to the frontiers of space travel. But when someone asked a question that had swirled around his Silicon Valley ascent — who were his investors? — he did not answer, turning repeatedly to the moderator with a look of incomprehension.

2010年秋,俄罗斯投资人、亿万富豪尤里·米尔纳(Yuri Milner)在旧金山的一次科技大会中上台接受提问。一度持有大笔Facebook和Twitter股份的米尔纳,向来喜欢大谈从社交媒体的未来到太空旅行前沿领域的一切。然而,当有人问了一个在他崛起于硅谷过程中挥之不去的问题——谁是他的投资者——他没有回答,而是反复地看向主持人,表示不理解。

Now, leaked documents examined by The New York Times offer a partial answer: Behind Milner’s investments in Facebook and Twitter were hundreds of millions of dollars from the Kremlin.


Obscured by a maze of offshore shell companies, the Twitter investment was backed by VTB, a Russian state-controlled bank often used for politically strategic deals.


And a big investor in Milner’s Facebook deal received financing from Gazprom Investholding, another government-controlled financial institution, according to the documents. They include a cache of records from the Bermuda law firm Appleby that were obtained by the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung and reviewed by The Times in collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

文件显示,米尔纳的Facebook交易中,有一名大投资人得到了俄气投资控股公司(Gazprom Investholding)的资金,这是另一家由俄罗斯政府控制的金融机构。这些文件包括了来自百慕大毅柏律师事务所(Appleby)的记录,由德国《南德意志报》(Suddeutsche Zeitung)获得,并由时报与国际调查记者同盟(International Consortium of Investigative Journalists)合作进行了查阅。

Ultimately, Milner’s companies came to own more than 8 percent of Facebook and 5 percent of Twitter, helping earn him a place on various lists of the world’s most powerful business people. His companies sold those holdings several years ago, but he retains investments in several other large technology companies and continues to make new deals. Among Milner’s current investments is a real estate venture founded and partly owned by Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and White House adviser.

最终,米尔纳的公司获得了超过8%的Facebook股份和5%的Twitter股份,帮助他登上了多个全球最具权势商界人物的榜单。他的公司在几年前就出售了那些股份,但是他保留了对其他几家大型科技公司的投资,并继续进行新的交易。米尔纳目前的投资包括由唐纳德·特朗普总统的女婿、白宫顾问贾里德·库什纳(Jared Kushner)创办并部分拥有的一家房地产公司。

Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites have become a major focus of federal investigations into Kremlin interference in the 2016 election. Federal prosecutors and congressional investigators are examining how Russians linked to the Kremlin turned the sites into garden hoses of bogus news stories and divisive political ads, and whether they coordinated with the Trump campaign.


No one has suggested that Milner or his companies had any connection to the propaganda operation. For his part, Milner said in a pair of recent interviews that the Russian government money was no different from the financing he had received from his many other investors around the world.


There is nothing illegal about foreign state-owned institutions investing in U.S. companies. VTB and Gazprom said the transactions were both sound investments, not motivated by political considerations.


Milner, 55, studied theoretical physics at Moscow State University before moving to the United States, where he attended the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in the early 1990s and then worked for the World Bank in Washington.


He returned to Russia, and eventually teamed with Alisher Usmanov — an Uzbek-Russian oligarch close to the Russian prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev — and a former Goldman Sachs executive to build a significant stake in Mail.ru, a Russian internet company that now trades on the London Stock Exchange.

他后来回到俄罗斯,并最终与阿利舍尔·乌斯马诺夫(Alisher Usmanov)——一位与俄罗斯总理德米特里·梅德韦杰夫过从甚密的乌兹别克裔俄罗斯寡头——以及一位高盛前高管联手,获得了俄罗斯互联网公司Mail.ru的大量股权。该公司现已在伦敦证券交易所上市。

In May 2009, Facebook announced an investment of about $200 million by Milner’s company, Digital Sky Technologies, and said the company planned to spend at least $100 million buying additional stock. Eventually, Milner’s new venture capital firm, DST Global, also amassed a significant stake in Facebook.

2009年5月,Facebook宣布得到米尔纳的公司数字天空科技(Digital Sky Technologies,简称DST)约2亿美元的投资,并表示公司计划另外再用至少1亿美元购买股票。最终,米尔纳新成立的风险投资公司DST环球(DST Global)也掌握了Facebook的大量股份。

The documents reviewed by The Times reveal that DST brought something else as well: a connection — through a succession of shell companies — to the Kremlin.


For the Facebook deal, it was Gazprom, the state-controlled natural-gas giant, that became the bridge. The company, a vital component of the Putin government, has employed its financial subsidiary, Gazprom Investholding, to reclaim assets privatized during the 1990s.


Both VTB and Gazprom Investholding’s parent, Gazprom, are under U.S. sanctions stemming from Russia’s support of separatists in eastern Ukraine in 2014.


Over several years, Gazprom Investholding and a subsidiary made hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to a company called Kanton Services, according to the trove of leaked documents from the law firm Mossack Fonseca. Kanton, in turn, owned one of the DST investment vehicles used to buy shares of Facebook. While it is unclear precisely when Kanton first received its stake in the DST entity, Kanton received $197 million of the Gazprom Investholding loans three months before Facebook announced its first deal with Milner, the records show.

据从莫萨克-冯赛卡(Mossack Fonseca)律师事务所泄露的大量文件,有记录显示俄气投资及其一家子公司向一家名为坎顿服务(Kanton Services)的公司提供了数亿美元的借款。而在DST购买Facebook股份所使用的投资工具中,有一个是由坎顿所有。坎顿具体什么时候开始得到在DST实体的股份,目前尚不得而知;不过记录显示,在Facebook宣布与米尔纳的首次交易三个月前,坎顿得到了俄气投资的一笔1.97亿美元借款。

The Facebook deal was a case study in the way Russia’s oligarchs have mixed public and private roles for their own, and their government’s, benefit: Even as he was investing in Facebook, Usmanov was general director of Gazprom Investholding.


In fact, Usmanov had often intertwined his government position with his personal deals, according to a report by the global investigations and security firm Kroll. Kroll described those arrangements as “synergies.”


The Kroll report — a “reputation audit” — had been commissioned by Usmanov as he set out to burnish his image a year before his deal with Milner to invest in Facebook. Kroll investigators, relying on public records and interviews, detailed a long and colorful history: time in prison in Uzbekistan (he was later exonerated) and past associations with alleged Russian organized crime figures, according to a draft copy of the report reviewed by The Times.


The investigators also recounted a dizzying number of deals — involving mining, media and technology companies, often with the assistance of the Kremlin and Medvedev. Kroll investigators found that, for some investments, Usmanov turned to Kanton, the company that would be a part of Milner’s Facebook investment.


A Facebook spokeswoman, Vanessa Chan, declined to answer specific questions about the deal with DST, calling it a “passive investor” and noting that the company had invested and cashed out several years ago.

Facebook的发言人瓦妮莎·陈(Vanessa Chan)拒绝回答有关与DST交易的具体问题,称其为“被动投资者”,并指出该公司的投资和兑现都是多年前的事。

Milner’s roughly $380 million investment in Twitter was directly backed by another instrument of Kremlin power: Russia’s second-largest bank, VTB.


Sixty-one percent of the bank is owned by the Russian government. VTB’s president, Andrey L. Kostin, is a former Soviet diplomat; Matthias Warnig, on the bank’s supervisory council, is a former East German spy who served in Dresden while President Vladimir Putin was stationed there with the KGB.

该银行61%的资产归俄罗斯政府所有。VTB的总裁安德烈·L·科斯京(Andrey L. Kostin)是前苏联外交官。该银行监督委员会的马蒂亚斯·沃尼格(Matthias Warnig)是前东德间谍,曾在德累斯顿服役。当时还在为克格勃(KGB)工作的俄罗斯总统弗拉基米尔·普京(Vladimir Putin)也驻扎在那里。

VTB has operations across the world, including in the United States. In recent years, it has been involved in a number of politically sensitive deals, including a loan that financed the Russian government’s murky privatization of 19.5 percent of the oil giant Rosneft.


Milner’s Twitter deal is a complex web of share transfers and offshore financial entities. But its details may offer clues that there was a strategic motive behind VTB’s involvement.


In July 2011, VTB invested at least $191 million in exchange for shares of an Isle of Man company called DST Investments 3, corporate records show. That offshore vehicle was used to buy roughly half of DST Global’s stake in Twitter that month. DST Investments 3 also issued shares to Kanton, the company linked to Usmanov that was at the center of the Facebook deal.

公司记录显示,2011年7月,VTB至少投资了1.91亿美元,换取一家名为DST Investments 3的马恩岛公司的股票。这个离岸工具在当月购买了DST环球在Twitter公司持有的约一半股份。DST Investments 3还向坎顿公司出售了股票,也就是与乌斯马诺夫有关的那家在Facebook交易中发挥重要作用的公司。

The Twitter deal had a notable feature: VTB put virtually all of the cash into DST Investments 3, filings show. Kanton contributed almost none.

文件显示,Twitter的交易有一个显著特征:VTB几乎将所有现金注入了DST Investments 3。坎顿的注资额几乎为零。

On May 7, 2014 — six months after Twitter’s initial public offering, when insiders were first permitted to sell their shares — VTB transferred the bulk of its stake in DST Investments 3 to Kanton. DST also cashed out its Twitter investment.

2014年5月7日,在Twitter首次公开募股六个月后,也就是内部人士首次获准出售股票时,VTB将其在DST Investments 3的大部分股份转让给了坎顿。DST还把自己在Twitter上的投资变了现。

Twitter declined to answer a series of questions about VTB, but said that as a matter of policy it had done reviews of all pre-IPO investors.


Milner has also been active beyond Silicon Valley. He is a founder of the Breakthrough Prize, a series of lucrative scientific awards. And in July 2015, he was one of several high-profile investors in Cadre, a New York-based real estate technology company founded by Kushner and his brother, Joshua. (Other investors and partners include Goldman Sachs, George Soros and Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund.)

米尔纳在硅谷之外也很活跃。他是一系列奖金丰厚的科学奖项突破奖(Breakthrough Prize)的创始人。2015年7月,他是库什纳和弟弟约书亚(Joshua)创立的纽约房地产科技公司Cadre的几位知名投资者之一(其他投资者和合作伙伴包括高盛、乔治·索罗斯[George Soros],以及彼得·蒂尔[Peter Thiel]的创始人基金[Founders Fund])。

Kushner and Cadre declined to comment.