In a rapid sell-off of its assets, defunct Oxford community St. Benet’s Hall is to be purchased by Russian oligarch Dmitri Berinov for use as a summer retreat and money laundering scheme. “We regret the loss of our beautiful community due to financial misfortune, but we hope St. Benet’s will be a good home for Mr. Berinov,” said a St. Benet’s spokesperson.
The Hall, founded in 1897 as a monastic community will become a means by which Dmitiri Berinov can redistribute and hide the money he made when he took over the Russian mining giant Rusorok in a rigged penny auction in 1994. “I am very excited to add these historic grounds to my portfolio,” said Berinov who is already the shadow owner of several properties in the U.K. including one British football team, three shell companies, and five London flats.
Berinov, whose two daughters and one unacknowledged son attend Oxford, said that he is looking forward to having his money spend more time near his kids. “I like the location of the Hall right on St. Gile’s Street where my two or so children can walk up the road and see what a massive fortune and political impunity can get you,” said Berinov.
Former students of St. Benet’s Hall wrote a letter in protest saying, “we do not wish our beloved Hall to become a playground for a Russian billionaire.” Berinov responded defiantly in a statement reading, “The alumni of St. Benet’s Hall have nothing to worry about. My playground is really my yacht. This place will be more for storing priceless art and other unlisted assets.”
Berinov, who has faced criticism for his connections to the Kremlin, has claimed that he is not a close associate of President Putin, but photos of the two at a Black Sea yacht orgy in 1998 suggest a different story. “I blacked out that day so I didn’t even know he was there,” said Berinov of the event.
Despite concern from locals and alumni, Berinov has insisted that the historic façade of St. Benet’s will be preserved except for the installation of “three garages,” which will be used to store “a few unlisted luxury vehicles.”
In a display of good will Berinov has pledged to donate a portion of his fortune to the University of Oxford for the establishment of a Berinov School of Sustainability Science to be endowed in perpetuity.