Posts circulating widely online have claimed without evidence that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is a billionaire. However, there is no evidence for the claims, with financial disclosures and investigative journalists from Forbes indicating he is more likely a millionaire.
Several posts making the claim cite specific figures such as $1.4 billion and $1.5 billion (here, here, here, here, here).
For example, one widely shared screenshot reads (here “Zelensky has 1.4 Billion dollars. More than Will Smith, Chris Rock, and Dave Chapelle combined. We are to believe that he made that as a comedian in the poorest nation in Europe?”
Reuters has not independently verified Zelenskiy’s wealth.
However, there is no evidence that the Ukrainian leader is a billionaire, according to publicly available official figures and representatives of business publisher Forbes who spoke to Reuters.
According to Ukrainian news agencies, Zelenskiy’s financial disclosure for 2020 revealed his and his family’s income amounted to 22.748 million hyrvias (approximately $8.2 million) (here, here).
The full declaration was published in the register of Ukraine’s National Agency on Corruption Prevention; however, it is currently unavailable (here).
“For 2020, the President of Ukraine declared an income of $1 million, we roughly estimate all his net wealth at around $20 million,” said Volodymyr Landa, deputy editor-in-chief of Forbes Ukraine.
Landa told Reuters via email on April 19: “The main asset of Volodymyr Zelensky is the rights to a comedy show, which he transferred after being elected president.
“The revenue of the entire company [Kvartal 95] was estimated at $20-30 million per year, Zelensky’s share in the company was 25%.”
Forbes evaluates the assets of the richest people in Ukraine based on investment banking and investigative journalism, Landa explained.
The publication also uses media interviews, official declarations and property registers in Ukraine and abroad to confirm ownership of property, he said.
Giacomo Tognini, a Forbes staff writer covering billionaires, also told Reuters on April 19: “We do not have any information indicating that Zelensky is a billionaire and we find it highly unlikely that he is a billionaire.”
Forbes estimates that there are currently seven billionaires with Ukrainian citizenship worth $11.9 billion, as documented in a report published on April 5, 2022, here.
The seven Ukrainian billionaires can be seen on the Forbes real-time billionaires list, its document of the world’s richest people (here).
President Zelenskiy is absent from the list as well as Forbes Ukraine’s list of 100 richest Ukrainians in 2021 (here).
Zelenskiy is also absent from Bloomberg’s billionaires index (here).
Yahoo! Finance indicates a possible cause for the “billion” claims shared on social media, here .
Celebrity Net Worth reported that figures from Zelenskiy’s 2018 disclosure indicated that he was worth approximately $1.5 million – not $1.5 billion or $1.4 billion (here).
The Pandora Papers, a collection of documents showing hidden assets of the world’s powerful, uncovered in October 2021, revealed that, around the time Zelenskiy won the 2019 Ukraine presidential election by a landslide, he transferred his stake in a secret offshore company to a friend (here, here).
However, the documents do not contain details on the size of dividend payments or how many have been made.
No evidence. According to official figures and publicly declared assets, there is no evidence that Zelenskiy is a billionaire.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here.
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.