Alisher Usmanov, a billionaire businessman and Russia's richest man, hired a London-based PR firm to edit a Wikipedia entry about him ahead of a stock market flotation of one of his companies, The London Times reported.
An investigation by the newspaper found that staff at RLM Finsbury had altered Usmanov's Wikipedia entry, replacing information that could cast him in a bad light.
They removed mention of his criminal convictions during the Soviet period, as well as details of a "freedom of speech" row, in which Usmanov issued threats to bloggers repeating critical comments made by a former British ambassador who said the tycoon was a "gangster and a racketeer."
These details were replaced by sections alluding to Usmanov's philanthropic activities and passion for fine art.
The PR firm has since apologized for editing the Wikipedia entry and emphasized that Usmanov was not aware of this tactic.
In the coming weeks, MegaFon, a major telecommunications operator controlled by Usmanov, is expected to carry out one of the largest stock market listings by a Russian company in London.