The Washington Post claims that the audio it got revealed that Russian tycoon Magomed Musaev was buying Forbes, and Austin Russell was only the “face” of the acquisition deal.

Is Russian tycoon Magomed Musaev buying Forbes 1Is Russian tycoon Magomed Musaev buying Forbes 1

The Washington Post reported on Friday that Russian businessman Magomed Musaev may be behind a plan to acquire a majority share in Forbes Global Media Holdings, citing leaked audio and video records in which the tycoon purportedly discussed the sale with his colleagues.

Austin Russell, a 28-year-old automotive tech billionaire, was earlier identified as the potential next owner of the media empire by Reuters and the Wall Street Journal. In a press conference, Russell discussed the roughly $800 million transaction with reporters and gave an overview of his goals for the business and his involvement therein.

Is Russian tycoon Magomed Musaev buying Forbes 2Is Russian tycoon Magomed Musaev buying Forbes 2

The Washington Post claims that the audio it got, which dated from early June, showed a different picture. Musaev, the owner of Forbes Russia, allegedly claimed in the recordings that he was the true purchaser of the multinational media empire and Russell was only “the face” of the transaction.

Musaev was apparently heard saying, “I just bought global Forbes,” in one of the recordings. Musaev reportedly stated that he intended to remain anonymous regarding his own involvement in the acquisition.

I am doing it more subtly… You understand, I am not working with a sledgehammer, nor with a scalpel, but with a laser,” he was cited as saying.

According to reports, Musaev referred to the purchase as “the deal of a lifetime” and a “key to the most authoritative global brand.” The records did not make it clear how much Musaev contributed to the purchase or what exactly his future plans are for Forbes.

The US media has been reporting about Musaev’s participation in the Forbes deal for some time. Most people remarked that Musaev’s 2016 $20 million investment in Russell’s business, Luminar, was how Russell and Musaev became acquainted. The two have reportedly kept in touch ever since, and in June, only weeks after Musaev announced the acquisition of Forbes, Russell went to his 60th birthday celebration in New York.

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The US government has taken notice of the reports, and in August Senators Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio urged Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen—who also serves as chair of the US Committee on Foreign Investment—to evaluate the agreement. Russell, according to the senators, was “masquerading as the lead buyer” and it was “evident that Russell is merely a conduit for larger foreign investors.”

Russell, meanwhile, has refuted Musaev’s participation in the transaction.

Musaev has no involvement whatsoever in the Forbes transaction. Any suggestion to the contrary is false… There is not a single dollar of capital from any Chinese or Russian citizen or entity, including Musaev,” a spokesperson for Russell told the Washington Post. Musaev also denied his involvement in the Forbes takeover in an emailed statement to the outlet.

However, it is still unknown how the acquisition would be specifically financed because Russell refused to disclose the investment specifics prior to the sale’s closing. According to Integrated Whale Media Investments of Hong Kong, the current owner of Forbes, the publication has performed “extensive due diligence on the buyer group being led by Austin Russell” and “uncovered no reason for concern with any investors involved.” The deal is anticipated to be completed in November.

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