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Russian-born City trader named as Britain’s biggest taxpayer

Alex Gerko
Alex Gerko

A Russian-born mathematician and City billionaire has become the UK’s highest taxpayer, racking up an estimated bill of nearly £490m.

Alex Gerko, who holds British citizenship and renounced his Russian citizenship last year, is the founder of robot trading firm XTX Markets and has an estimated fortune of $6.2bn (£5bn).

The 43-year-old leapt up the rankings to become Britain’s number one taxpayer in 2022, with a liability of £487.4m, according to the latest Sunday Times Tax List.

He pulled in front of other top taxpayers such as Bet365 founder Denise Coates and her family, sportswear tycoon Stephen Rubin and his family, and hedge fund billionaire Sir Chris Hohn.

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Robert Watts, the compiler of The Sunday Times Tax List, said: “Alex Gerko’s story is an extraordinary read.

“This was a man who could have been one of Russia’s greatest wealth creators — instead he is creating jobs and paying his tax here.

“Enticing the super-rich to London doesn’t always pay dividends for the public finances. In his case it certainly has.”

The latest Sunday Times Tax List found that 100 individuals and families had each paid at least £10.7m of tax, either personally or through their businesses. Other top contributors to the public purse include Harry Potter author JK Rowling, Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin, Sting and the Duke of Westminster.

The top 10 taxpayers handed over £2.3bn to the Treasury, an increase of nearly 14pc compared to a year earlier.

Mr Gerko was previously ranked number 10 on the list, with a contribution of £117.4m. He is a maths graduate of the prestigious Moscow State University and the New Economic School who began his finance career as a Moscow-based researcher at Deutsche Bank in 2004.

He moved to the UK in 2006 and joined hedge fund GSA Capital in 2009, before leaving in 2015 to found trading firm XTX.

XTX, which today generates annual revenues of more than $1.7bn (£1.4bn), employs so-called algorithmic trading strategies, where decisions are automated through machines, to provide liquidity to businesses, exchanges and trading venues.

The firm’s quirky London office, in King’s Cross, reportedly boasts arcade machines and a replica Apollo 11 landing capsule. It employs 180 people and also has offices in Paris, New York, Mumbai, Yerevan and Singapore.

Mr Gerko shares the role of chief executive with Zar Amrolia, former currency trader at Deutsche Bank who joined XTX shortly after it was founded.

The businessman has emerged as a public critic of the Kremlin since Vladimir Putin’s forces attacked Ukraine, tweeting that “Nuremberg is waiting” for Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister.

XTX sued Mazars for racial discrimination when the accountancy firm refused to work with XTX based on Mr Gerko's Russian citizenship. In that lawsuit, XTX stressed that Mr Gerko was not subject to any sanctions.

His $6.2bn fortune stems from his 75pc stake in XTX and $2.4bn worth of dividends paid out to him since 2020 by a holding company he controls, according to the Bloomberg billionaires index.

It is understood he has donated to charitable causes including the UBS Ukraine emergency appeal, reading and numeracy initiatives in Africa, a geothermal energy non-profit and the Rewilding Britain scheme.

He is also the founder and a trustee of Mathematics Education for Social Mobility and Excellence (Mesme), which encourages top students at secondary schools to join “maths circles” where they can tackle advanced problems with the help of mentors and peers.

A spokesman for Mr Gerko declined to comment.