Crowdfunded Journalism

The Colour of Russian Money Part 23: the Boys are Back in Town

Stephen Komarnyckyj photo
Stephen KomarnyckyjLatvia, Malta ,Ukraine, The EU, The USA and the world of dodgy offshore companies
The Colour of Russian Money Part 23: the Boys are Back in Town
The men who looted Latvia's Parex Bank were never properly prosecuted and are getting up to their old tricks...

If Valerijs Kargins was flipping through the news channels in Forte Dei Marmi, where he is rumoured to be living, on 15 October 2019 he might have seen a disquieting item. Ihor Kolomoisky, the Ukrainian oligarch who allegedly (coughs) looted Privatbank of $5bn, had lost a court case in the United Kingdom. The case had been brought by Privatbank, which he once owned and which was pursuing him and fellow owner Gennadiy Bogolyubov for the money they had allegedly stolen. The loss means that the UK courts have determined that they have jurisdiction over the case and Privatbank can squeeze its former owners in London. Kargins might have frowned for a second but switched to replays of Dallas dubbed into Russian and mixed himself a martini. He had no need to worry.

Parex's successor Reverta was wound up at the end of 2017. It had launched some token, largely unsuccessful actions against Kargins and its other former owner Krasovickis for the return of money loaned to them on outrageously favourable terms by Parex. These were loans in the same way that the handbag a mugger grabs is merely borrowed. However, the auditor's report detailing suspicious transactions by Parex prior to its collapse was suppressed. Krasovickis and Kargins and their associates, like Kolomoisky, funnelled billions out of the bank via loans to questionable entities. The Latvian government and the EBRD were happy to turn a blind eye to the scale of the fraud, perhaps because the gang's tentacles reached into the heart of the EU and the Latvian state. Arnis Lagzdins, the bank's compliance officer until 2008, would later be the compliance officer at Lithuanias Ukio bank which collapsed having been looted by its owner and used by Putin's money launderer. Lagzdins would then become the Latvian governments front man in the US as it tried to restore the credibility of its banking system. Alas! The ABLV bank folded on his watch in March 2018, having been sanctioned for money laundering by the US...


There is growing evidence that Krasovickis and Kargins themselves, like Lagzdins and the gang of banking professionals they assembled, continued to shunt money through various questionable entities. The recently deceased Boris Teterev, the one time owner of part of ABLV, is rumoured to have sold his stake in the bank to Krasovickis before it collapsed. However, any investigation is likely to draw a blank. Oligarchs can own a company or a bank in reality without owning it on paper. It is likely that Teterev and Krasovickis had a gentleman's agreement which, if broken, would have resulted in one of those mysterious accidents that plague Moscow based businessmen. Or perhaps all that is needed is higher railings and reinforced glass around those balconies that so many hapless individuals have plummeted from.


The Parex gang is also rumoured to be connected to Exante the Malta based brokerage firm that was investigated by the US SEC on suspicion of insider trading in 2015. The SEC ultimately dropped the charges and the firm's Russian owner were able to develop their business. Exante now has a UK registered offshoot. A Latvian member of its staff has apparently boasted about meeting one of the former owners of Parex. Is it just a rumour? The Exante team includes a familiar face, Janis Kivkulis who managed Parex's Azerbaijan branch. Did any of the money from Parex end up being invested in Exante's entirely legal brokerage services? How are the supposedly broke Kargins and Krasovickis able to jet around Europe and live in resorts customised by billionaires? The failure to prosecute the Parex gang was an important step towards Europe's gradual oligarchisation. Western democracy will continue dying until the police finally lead them away in handcuffs and their fellow oligarchs such as Kolomoisky and Firtash are successfully prosecuted. Kolomoisky is staring down the barrels of a British prosecution and Firtash is waiting for the Austrian police to bundle him on a plane to Washington. His last play, pitching a cock and bull story to Trump and Giuliani, which resulted in them trying to get Ukraine to prosecute Joe Biden, has led to the beginning of Trump's impeachment and time is running out. But Kargins and Krasovickis can still watch the sun descend over the sea in Jurmala or whatever exclusive residential compound they choose for now....

##Latvia #Ukraine #EBRD #Corruption

0
0
0