German journalist Hubert Seipel, who conducted interviews with Putin and wrote two books about him, has admitted to receiving "financial support" in the hundreds of thousands of euros from a Russian oligarch without disclosing it. The series of articles about this were published by Der Spiegel.
Seipel, who had regularly participated in talk shows and interviews as a "Putin expert," had previously denied allegations of receiving money from the Kremlin. In a 2021 interview, when asked about it, he responded with a definitive "No!"
"Apparently, that was a lie, as the documents have shown," the newspaper notes.
According to a joint investigation by Cyprus Confidential, published by Spiegel, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), and several other media outlets, Seipel secretly received approximately 600,000 euros through an offshore company from the owner of Russian companies Silovye Mashiny and Severstal, Alexey Mordashov.
Seipel gained prominence due to his "unprecedented access" to Putin, claiming to have communicated with him "a hundred times." The journalist published photos of himself with the Russian president during a hunting trip in Siberia and various trips in a limousine across Moscow. Seipel's books, including "Putin: The Logic of Power" (2015) and "Putin's Power: Why Europe Needs Russia" (2021), have been translated into multiple languages and became best-sellers. His documentary film "Me, Putin. A Portrait" (2012) was nominated for a German television award.
According to documents obtained by investigators, over the course of five years, Seipel received hundreds of thousands of euros as "sponsorship" from a dummy company linked to the sanctioned Mordashov. According to the documents, Dmitry Fedotov, a lawyer working at the Russian steel company Severstal, acted as the sponsor in these deals.
A handwritten note on a document from 2018 states that the "sponsorship" was intended for the creation of a book about the political environment in the Russian Federation. Another entry in the same document mentions a 2013 agreement regarding a "biography of Putin".
In response to questions from investigators at Paper Trail Media, Seipel admitted that Mordashov had "supported" his books but claimed that his books were written "impartially" and "no specific factual errors were found in any of them".
According to investigators, the documents related to the "book" sponsorship were prepared by Cypcodirect and the Cyprus branch of the international auditing company PwC.