The Paradise Papers have revealed over 13 million files detailing the offshore interests and activities of the world's richest people.
The massive trove of leaked data, as reported by The Guardian, also reveals that two Russian state-controlled entities funded investments in Facebook and Twitter. These entities are linked with Russian technology tycoon Yuri Milner.
The Paradise Papers, reviewed by ICIJ, The Guardian and others, reveal that in 2011, Russian state-controlled VTB Bank funded a $191m (£146m) investment in Twitter.
Separately and around the same time, the financial branch of the state oil and gas firm Gazprom financed an offshore firm, which in turn funded an entity that held $1bn worth of shares in Facebook.
This money reportedly flowed through investment vehicles controlled by Milner, collectively known as DST Global. The investment company had fully divested itself of its Facebook and Twitter investments by 2014, over a year before the separate Cadre investment by the Milner family trust. VTB and Gazprom were placed under US sanctions in July 2014.
Milner, who once served as an advisor to the Russian government on technology, is now based in Silicon Valley. He has reportedly invested over $7bn in over 30 tech firms including Spotify, Airbnb, Alibaba and others.
The Trump administration is currently under investigation for alleged collusion with Russia over swaying the 2016 US presidential election in favour of Trump.
The revelation that stakes in two of the most prominent tech firms in the US were financed by Kremlin-linked Russian organisations comes as US authorities uncover more evidence of Russia's covert use of Twitter and Facebook to spread misinformation and boost Trump's campaign.
Milner rejects that he is an associate of Kushner. He reportedly said that he had invested in Kushner's businesses for commercial reasons only and had only met Kushner once last year. "I'm not involved in any political activity. I'm not funding any political activity," said Milner, the Guardian reported.
Facebook and Twitter were allegedly unaware that the funding for the investments came from Russian state-controlled organisations. Facebook said that the Gazprom-backed investment was sold five years ago, after Facebook went public.
"Russia's influence over operations – whether that be allocating funds for disinformation campaigns or providing financing to extremist movements, or others – are intentionally opaque," said Alina Polyakova, a specialist in Russian foreign policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington. "They operate in the shadows."
<sub>Note: This article has been amended to clarify the timeline of events and the nature of Yuri Milner's business relationship with Jared Kushner.