Russian-born tech billionaire Pavel Durov has denied holding secret British citizenship after public documents appeared to link the billionaire to a new UK latest business venture.
Documents filed with the UK government at Companies’ House show that a man calling himself Pavel Durov incorporated a new Private Limited Company — Telegram Open Network Limited — in the UK on 28 February. The same man, who is listed as both the company’s secretary and director of the firm, declared himself officially as a British citizen with a correspondence address in London.
The documents said that the company will work with “investment trusts, open-ended investment companies and property unit trusts.” The firm has declared capital of some £800 million pounds, made up of some 100,000 shares.
Telegram however denied that Durov was linked to the official entry, calling it a fake.
This entry is fake (https://t.co/vs6ZKJyiCG). Most likely a prank or scam, no such company was registered by Pavel.
— Telegram Messenger (@telegram) April 6, 2018
The 33 year-old founder of messaging app Telegram has previously declared having citizenship on the Caribbean island of St Kitts and Nevis, splitting his time primarily between London and Dubai.
Speaking with The Calvert Journal, an employee for Companies’ House confirmed that they did not require evidence from companies when they submitted capital declarations, and that all information was taken “in good faith”.
“Companies House has a thorough and proportionate approach to ensuring the integrity of the information on the register. We undertake numerous checks at incorporation and through the life of the company”, the organisation’s press office said in a formal statement.
“Where potentially criminal activities are suspected, we work closely with law enforcement bodies. Where a director has been appointed without their consent, we have a robust legislative process in place to remove them.”
Durov is facing mounting pressure in Russia, with state media watchdog Roskomnadzor asking judges to block Telegram for refusing to cooperate with the security services.
The move comes just months after Telegram was fined more than $13,000 for failing to hand over data on suspects linked to a 2017 bombing in the St Petersburg metro. New Russian laws require the security services to be able to access users’ messages and data if required for an investigation.
This article has been updated from a previous version to reflect responses from Telegram and Companies’ House.