Recall that on November 25, 2006 in Nice, Kerimov was driving a friend’s Ferrari Enzo and crashed it against a tree at high speed. The crash set the car on fire and Kerimov reportedly received severe burns to over a third of his body. His companion, Russia’s famous TV hostess Tina Kandelaki, escaped with minor injuries. She refused medical assistance and rushed to Moscow and subsequently denied that she had been in the car with Kerimov, blaming her skin condition on “the mumps.”
Suleiman Kerimov (41, married with three children), is the owner of Nafta-Moscow, one of the holders of Bin Bank (19.99 percent), Sberbank, Gazprom and MGTS. He's one of the biggest individual shareholders in Gazprom with a 4.5% stake, making him the leading stakeholder in the gas giant. His wealth exceeds $13 billion, placing him in the top 100 world’s richest men, and among Russia’s top 10 billionaires.
Given the severity of Kerimov’s burn injuries and the complex treatment regimen he’s endured (IVs, antibiotic creams, tetanus immunizations, hyperbaric chamber treatments, debridements, escharotomy procedures, skin autografts, plastic surgery, physical therapy, etc.), these past several months of recovery in the hospital have undoubtedly been a significant life event for Kerimov.
All reports indicate that he’s maintained his sense of humor throughout his recovery (he’s reported to have told friends that “a tree decided to cross the street and I ran into it!”).
Following his accident on the Cote d’-Azur, Kerimov was first taken to the nearest hospital in France and then transferred to Brussels for treatment at the Queen Astrid Military Hospital in Brussels which specializes in severe burn treatment. In January, however, a dangerous strain of bacteria was detected in the Queen Astrid Military Hospital. Although the name of the bacteria wasn’t specified, in order to prevent its spread, the hospital said it would only admit new patients in exceptional cases.
The accident may have slowed Kerimov’s dealings in business and politics, but it has not stopped him. After refusing to run as part of Russia’s Liberal Democratic Party’s regional regional legislatures on March 11, the State Duma faction of the Liberal Democratic Party headed by Vladimir Zhirinovsky ousted him. Instead, Kerimov moved closer to the Kremlin by joining Vladimir Putin’s United Russia Party.
Following his accident and perhaps realizing his own mortality, it’s probably no coincidence that Kerimov announced his intent to donate $100 million to construct a cathedral mosque in Moscow to be the main mosque of Muslims in Russia. The statement of intent came after Kerimov met with Chairman of Russian Mufti Council Sheikh Ravil Gainutdin last week. The first tranche of $10 million was reportedly transferred to a special fund set up to back up the construction.
In January, a proposed partnership between Kerimov's Nafta-Moskva investment group and the Moscow City Government to control some of the city's leading hotels collapsed after the most attractive assets were withdrawn from the package and city officials raised their valuation for the remaining hotels. Nafta-Moskva was set to buy a controlling 51 percent share package in the United Hotel Company at a cost of about $1 billion.
And then earlier this month, the Kommersant business daily said that Kerimov had emerged as a white knight for bankrupt oil firm Yukos and was negotiating to take over its multi-billion-dollar debts. Quoting unnamed sources close to Yukos’ creditors, Kommersant said Kerimov had held talks with Yukos president Steven Theede to take over the debts. Yukos board chairman Viktor Gerashchenko told radio station Ekho Moskvy that a mysterious investor had proposed to the owners of the oil firm to pay its debts and take it over. Nafta Moskva denied the reports with the following statement:
“Neither Nafta Moskva nor its official representatives have held any talks and have no intention to hold any talks related to Yukos, or to acquisition of the company’s shares.”
Kerimov’s investment group also plans to start construction on a new housing development outside of Moscow, reported to be a town for the city’s middle class.
And Kerimov’s black Enzo Ferrari? The wreck was evidently put up for sale at eBay Internet auction, according to Caradisiac.com. …But why would anyone want it?