Close Associate of Roman Abramovich Key Partner of UK Parliamentary Group
A businessman with ties to the sanctioned Russian oligarch is listed as a partner and advisor to a Westminster group containing senior MPs and peers
A Russian businessman with close ties to sanctioned oligarch Roman Abramovich was one of the founding partners of a UK All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), Byline Times can reveal.
Until April 2022, Sergey Bratukhin served as a director of Norilsk Nickel, appointed to the board to reportedly represent Abramovich’s Millhouse Capital. He was until recently also the president of Invest AG, a Moscow-based investment company which controls the assets of Alexander Abramov and Alexander Frolov, who ran Russia’s largest steel producer, Evraz, and have this month been sanctioned by the UK Government. The pair are “known to be business associates of Roman Abramovich,” according to the UK Government.
Bratukhin has also sat on the board of Russian Forest Products (RFP) in which both Invest AG and Abramovich are significant shareholders. He is listed here as also being a board member of the Amur Shipping Company, which transports the forest products of parent company RFP Group. It also appears that Bratukhin is a shareholder via an investment firm in Renaissance Insurance, holding a financial stake alongside Abramovich’s Millhouse Capital, and Invest AG.
Norilsk Nickel has recently announced that it is looking to develop new Lithium mining sites that will aid the Russian war effort in Ukraine, while Bratukhin personally welcomed President Vladimir Putin on a tour of RFP facilities in Amursk in 2017. It also seems that Bratukhin appeared alongside Putin at the plenary session of the conference of regional branches of the United Russia Party – Putin’s party – in the Far Eastern Federal District in 2010.
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In the West, Bratukhin calls himself Sergey Young, and portrays himself as a successful venture capital investor in bio-technology companies. He speaks at conferences around the world discussing longevity, the science of extending human lifespans through the appliance of new technology to improve diagnoses, drug efficacy and treatments.
He explained in an interview in 2021 that he “created this whole Sergey Young guy” to overcome “anti-Russian prejudices”. He added that “you need to be mentally healthy to support a couple of personas”. As shown here, the name ‘Sergey Young’ is in fact a trademark belonging to Sergey Bratukhin. Young’s LinkedIn page lists that he attended Warwick Business School, matching his profile in Norilsk Nickel annual accounts.
In the US, Bratukhin has been described as the “right hand man” of Peter Diamandis, one of the founders of the X-Prize Foundation, the world-renowned scheme that runs competitions intended to encourage technological development to benefit humanity. Bratukhin also founded Peak State Ventures, a San Francisco-based investment firm, and heads a bio-technology investment outfit called the Longevity Vision Fund.
In the UK, Bratukhin is listed as one of the sponsors/partners of the APPG for Longevity and was one of the individuals who “advised the [APPG] on all matters related to the Health of the Nation Strategy published in February 2020”. His Longevity Vision Fund is also listed on the APPG website as a “key supporter”. Bratukhin’s personal website says that he is a “Financial Advisory Board member of the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group for Longevity, which is helping to shape a national life extension strategy.”
The APPG is chaired by former senior Cabinet minister, Conservative MP Damian Green. Other members of the APPG include former Head of the Home Civil Service Lord Bob Kerslake, Sir Peter Bottomley MP, Paul Holmes MP, Jonathan Lord MP, and five other members of the House of Lords.
APPGs are informal cross-party groups, focused on particular areas of interest, “run by and for Members of the Commons and Lords”.
In a video on the APPG’s website, posted in November 2019, Bratukhin is quoted as saying that “for me, the most important thing is just the existence of the APPG. And I’m always using the UK and our group as an example where [a] government and parliament is trying to take a much bigger role in extending not only lifespan but also the health-span of its citizens.”
The APPG told Byline Times that, “Sergey Young was briefly involved in the APPG in 2019 as a finance expert in longevity on one of the many meetings we ran that year involving well over 100 individuals. Since 2020 he has had no involvement whatsoever in the APPG.”
It appears that the APPG is understating the initial role of Bratukhin, given that he was previously listed as one of the “first two” partners of the group. A video listed on the APPG’s website shows Bratukhin attending the launch of its ‘Health of the Nation’ report in February 2020.
Labour MP Stephen Kinnock, who is a member of the committee of MPs scrutinising the Government’s Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill, which has been partly motivated by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, described this story as “extremely concerning”.
Kinnock added that: “All political parties and APPGs in Parliament must undertake comprehensive due diligence checks so that they can verify the source of the money that their donors are investing. This is particularly important if there is a potential risk of the source of funding being linked to a foreign hostile state.”
The UK Government imposed sanctions on former Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich in March, accusing him of having “clear connections” to Vladimir Putin’s regime. On announcing the sanctions, then-Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said that “oligarchs and kleptocrats have no place in our economy or society. With their close links to Putin they are complicit in his aggression.”
The APPG for Longevity has produced two reports advocating greater NHS data sharing. The NHS data set is one of the most valuable repositories of health records in the world, holding cradle-to-grave data across multiple generations.
As mentioned, Bratukhin attended the launch of its ‘Health of the Nation’ report in Parliament in February 2020, speaking of the need for the APPG to “tackle the Government” on the issue of longevity.
The report advocated the establishment of an ‘open life’ data framework to harness datasets and stimulate business innovation. The paper, which the-then Health Secretary Matt Hancock lauded as “timely and brilliant”, advocated applying “the lessons from Open Banking where banking data is shared and has stimulated the fintech ecosystem. There are opportunities to harness datasets across the life-course and be a global leader in using longitudinal data and AI to develop new products and services.”
The report led to the launch of ‘Business For Health’ – a non-profit company aimed at “building a business coalition” to invest in “the health and economic resilience of the UK”. One of Business For Health’s advisors is the APPG for Longevity’s strategic advisory board chair Lord Geoffrey Filkin, while Hancock said he was “delighted” that the group had been formed.
The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has been approached for comment. There is no suggestion of wrongdoing or complicity on the part of Diamandis, Peak State Ventures or the Longevity Vision Fund.
Bratukhin has not been sanctioned by the Government. He did not respond to our multiple requests for comment.
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APPGs have proliferated over the past decade – their number now standing at 744, with their memberships formed of MPs, peers, representatives of non-profit organisations, and private firms.
Despite concerns raised by Whitehall’s lobbying tsar in 2016 about the use of such groups to bypass lobbying rules, little has been done to tighten restrictions on their access to MPs, or to consider how such groups are able to influence Government policies.
The Parliamentary Standards Committee published an interim report in May about the regulation of APPGs, stating that: “the expert evidence… received to our inquiry shows that the risk of improper access and influence by hostile foreign actors through APPGs is real, though difficult to measure,” and conceded that “there is also evidence that this risk has already materialised”.
The report went on to warn that “if left unchecked, APPGs could represent the next great parliamentary scandal, with commercial entities effectively buying access to and influence of parliamentarians and decision-makers”.
This is echoed by the writer and security specialist Ed Lucas, who told Byline Times that: “APPGs like this sound anodyne, but in reality, they’re a gaping hole in our political system offering scrutiny-free access to decision-making and our decision-makers for all manner of questionable individuals and entities.”
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