the-four-horsemen-of-the-apocalypseThe closing of the sale of TNK-BP, Russia’s third-biggest oil company, 50% owned by British Petroleum and 50% by the Russian billionaires, marked another move by Vladimir Putin to centralize power. Rosneft Chief Executive Igor Sechin, often described as Russia’s second-most-powerful man behind Putin and sometimes called Darth Vader, was the central figure behind the deal. He sometimes seemed to want to remind the oligarchs of their rank by tormenting them during the negotiations, arriving late to their Moscow meetings. As if it were being played out in a James Bond thriller, a neutral location was selected for the closing: Frankfurt, Germany, continental Europe’s financial capital. Shareholder representatives insisted that they be able to immediately verify, in real time, the transfer of cash and stock certificates into an escrow account controlled by the billionaires, says a person familiar with the events . Only after a screenshot was taken showing the new balance of $27,778,900,132.16 was the transaction considered final. More