Alexei Mordashov, Russia's wealthiest oligarch and one of the people sanctioned this week by the European Union, has transferred control of a $1.1 billion stake in mining company Nordgold to his wife, according to a report by US media company Bloomberg.

Marina Aleksandrovna Mordashova became ‘a person with significant control’ of Nordgold on 28 February, according to UK filings included in Bloomberg's report.

As stated in the filings, Mordashova now holds between 50 and 75% of the voting rights in Nordgold, of which international news agency Reuters estimated a valuation of up to $5 billion.

Mordashov, stepped down as a director at Nordgold on 1 March, the filings said, and currently holds up to half of Nordgold's shares.

Russian oligarchs have become targets for Western sanctions after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine on February 24. The US, UK, and EU are among those who have implemented a package of sanctions directed at crippling Russia's economy.

Bloomberg reported that it was unclear whether Mordashov's shift in control of Nordgold was triggered by the response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine because the transfer would have been set in motion before Mordashov was sanctioned.

"I have absolutely nothing to do with the current geopolitical tensions. I don't understand why sanctions have been imposed against us."

Alexei Mordashov, Nordgold shareholder

"I have absolutely nothing to do with the current geopolitical tensions. I don't understand why sanctions have been imposed against us," Mordashov in a statement reported by the Russian news agency TASS.

Source: Business Insider, Bloomberg