French company, Vinci, established a Joint Venture with Russia — North-West Concessions Company (NWCC) — to build an ecologically unfriendly motorway across Khimki forest between Moscow and Sankt-Petersburg. Russian banks, Sberbank and Vneshekonombank, credited the construction, officially called a “public-private partnership”. First, one section of construction cost €300 million. This means that each kilometer cost €25.3 million (to compare, in the EU, the average cost was €4.9 million per kilometer).
According to expertise from Transparency International (2010), inexplicably, the most expensive itinerary was chosen, breaching Russian legislation protecting forest territories. A protester, ecological activist Mikhail Beketov, was beaten, became disabled, and died from consequences of the attack. The aggressors were not identified.
Banwatch (an NGO) uncovered the following beneficiaries of different offshores behind the Russian part of NWCC: Arkady Rotenberg (18%), Alexander Plekhov (4%), and Konstantin Nikolaev (alleged sponsor of Maria Butina). Plekhov is a former shareholder of Bank Rossiya, to whom Putin’s friend, Sergey Roldugin, transferred shares of Sonette Overseas, as detailed in the Panama Papers.
French NGO, Sherpa, managed to submit evidence of the “bribing of foreign officials” to French prosecutors, stating that “With high probability, with the help of intricate schemes, Vladimir Putin himself received a reward for the services provided by Arkady Rotenberg to the Vinci group.” An investigating judge has been appointed and the official investigation in France is in progress.
See full description of the case as of 2017 in the article, “Offshores next to a highway” (Russian), and in the report by the Fighting Transborder Corruption group/EU-Russia civil Society Forum (English, Russian), 2017.