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From Russia with loot ... Conor's €9bn boss

RUSSIAN billionaire Victor Vekselberg has appointed former minister Conor Lenihan as his right-hand man.

Vekselberg (54) is the world's 57th richest person with a net worth of at least €9bn.

The oil and steel tycoon's success leaves him with similar fortunes to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and fellow Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.

Vekselberg had a huge pool of experienced people to choose from and selected the Dubliner, who held a science and technolgy brief in the last government, to be his international adviser.

Some of Lenihan's former ministerial colleagues have admitted to finding it difficult adjusting to life after losing their seats in the last general election.

However, the former Esat Digiphone executive appears to have taken it all in his stride, landing the job at Moscow's Skolkovo foundation in April.

The foundation has a budget of €10bn to establish an "innovation centre" in the city's suburb. Plans are even afoot to build an international space hub at the centre.


Lenihan (48) is set to pocket a €27,000 golden handshake after losing his Dail seat in February.

He has remained tight-lipped over his exact role with his new company but is understood to be tasked with persuading large multi-national companies to locate at the centre.

Lenihan announced at the weekend that he has no intention of contesting the upcoming Dublin-West by-election, where his late brother Brian's seat is up for grabs.

"I'm living in Moscow now, I haven't even been talking to the party," he told the Herald.

"I have no plans to re-enter politics in the short to medium term future," he added.

And family sources have told the Herald that the former minister for Science and Technology is "determined" to succeed in his new career.

"Conor's doing what he wants to do and he is doing very well. He's very ambitious," the source added.

Vekselberg will undoubtedly be a somewhat different boss to the likes of former Taoisigh Brian Cowen and Bertie Ahern.

The magnate is spear heading the massive commercial development in Moscow -- which aims to create a 'Silicon Valley' type innovation centre.

He is also a shareholder in Russia's third largest largest oil company, TNK-BP.