De Facto

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De Facto

De Facto - Jaunas sankcijas pret Krieviju; Ar Latviju saistīti Putinam īpaši tuvi oligarhi

Vismaz 4 oligarhi no īpašās Putina audiences saistīti ar Latviju

LTV's De Facto looks at Russian oligarchs with business in Latvia

Apart from billionaire Pyotr Aven, at least three more businessmen with links to Latvia were in Putin's audience on February 24 when Russia began the invasion of Ukraine, according to Latvian Television's investigative broadcast De Facto which aired March 6.

The three oligarchs – Dmitry Mazepin, Andrey (Andrei) Bokarev, and Alexei Mordashov – are beneficiaries of companies working in Latvia. Mazepin and Bokarev are not on any sanction lists currently.

Dmitry Mazepin

In terms of turnover, the largest Russian oligarch companies in Latvia, through another chain of companies, belong to Mazepin. According to the data from Lursoft, Uralkali Trading, Uralchem Trading and the cargo-handling company Ventamonjaks, worked with a combined turnover of two billion euros in 2020. Mazepin's local business links are also tied to Ainars Šlesers and Andris Šķēle, as the transhipping company Riga Fertilizer Terminal is jointly owned by Rīga Commercial Port (RTO) where Šlesers and Šķēle's families are involved, and Mazepin.

However, RTO is refusing to evaluate Mazepin's links to the Kremlin. RTO's board chairman, Rolands Gulbis, said:

"We've thought about a lot of things. Look, there are several hundred people working there. Secondly, we are not the leading partner – they are the leading partner. So we're in a [...] passive role. The closing/non-closing decision is regulated. How can we close [the port] being minority shareholders?"

In January this year Mazepin also had a direct conversation with Putin, which was reported on his company websites. However, on February 28 Mazepin's name was not on sanction lists. “If you're not on the sanctions list, you think, it is an easy decision to tell several hundred people at once: 'Well, you know, he had a conversation, something I haven't seen, because you can't keep track of everything, and that's why we're closing everything'?” said Gulbis.

Andrey Bokarev

Andrey Bokarev, who is also not included in the sanction lists published so far, is the true beneficiary of Rīgas elektromašīnbūves rūpnīca (Riga Electric Machine Building Works, RER) along with another Russian oligarch Iskander Makhmudov. The factory continues business as usual.

In 2020, the business employed 800 workers had a turnover of 68.5 million euros. 

In 2018, the U.S. included both Bokarev and Makhmudiv on the list of oligarchs close to Putin, who could be subject to sanctions. They gained control at RER afterwards – in May 2021. The action was authorized by Latvia's regulator, the Financial and Capital Market Commission (FKTK).

The FKTK indicated that it was examining whether all documents were prepared in accordance with the requirements and that the share price purchased for taking control was fair. Possible money-laundering and sanctions risk issues are also evaluated by the credit institutions that facilitate the deals.

Alexei Mordashov

Alexei Mordashov, who has been named Russia's richest man, is currently on the EU sanctions list. Mordashov is the true beneficiary of the metallurgy company Severstral Distribution, which worked on a turnover of EUR 700 million in 2020 and employed 200 workers, according to Lursoft data. Mordashov also owns the tourism company TT Baltics and the franchise of tour operator TUI.

In 2013, Mordashov was awarded the Latvian state decoration – the Cross of Recognition – by former president Andris Bērziņš. When the Chapter of Orders decided to deprive the Russian billionaire and Latvian citizen Pyotr Aven of the Order of the Three Stars on March 2, Mordashov's decoration was not discussed. After De Facto brought it up, the Charter said it would be discussed in the future.

It is currently unclear why Mordashov is subject to sanctions but Mazepin and Bokarev are not. Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs told De Facto "It is not excluded that [..] other decisions would be prepared and there would be new names and surnames". 

De Facto reported that these are not the only Russian oligarchs having direct or indirect business in Latvia. For example, the oil company Transneft's president Nikolay Tokarev, who is currently sanctioned, had estate in Latvia through his children, as reported elsewhere. 

 

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