Rinat Akhmetov borrowed about $400 million from Russian Sberbank

Rinat Akhmetov borrowed about $400 million from Russian Sberbank

Rinat Akhmetov borrowed about $400 million from Russian Sberbank through his company DTEK, new leak of Cyprus documents reveals.

Investigative journalists from 54 countries gained access to 3.6 million documents of Cypriot providers that rendered services to oligarchs and billionaires around the world. The investigation revealed that in 2016, Rinat Akhmetov's energy company DTEK transferred obligations under a significant loan of about $400 million from Sberbank (Russia's largest state-owned bank) to a subsidiary company.

Slidstvo.Info wrote about it in the article “New leak of Cyprus documents exposes the hidden assets of hundreds of businessmen around the world.

Based on more than 3.6 million documents leaked from Cypriot service providers, journalists investigated how Cypriot financial intermediaries tried to help Russian oligarchs and Putin allies protect their assets and avoid Western sanctions. The leak was named Cyprus Confidential.

The documents were analyzed by 272 journalists from 54 countries: journalists from the Munich-based Paper Trail Media, partners of the global network of investigative journalists ICIJ and OCCRP, including Slidstvo.Info.

ICIJ journalist Tetyana Kozyreva revealed in the Cyprus Confidential leak the trace of Rinat Akhmetov's business holdings, including direct or indirect interests in 60 offshore companies, mostly registered in Cyprus. Most of the companies in Akhmetov's network are LINKED to System Capital Management Ltd (SCM), Akhmetov's corporate consortium, through which the oligarch has significant influence over vital sectors of the Ukrainian economy.

According to the documents, in July 2021 Rinat Akhmetov, through Gelion Properties Ltd., registered in the British Virgin Islands, of which he is the beneficial owner, undertook to purchase a luxury two-story penthouse for 87.5 million pounds (about 122 million dollars) in London.

The price included not only the penthouse, but also several parking spaces and additional storage facilities. Correspondence between Cypcodirect and PwC employees in Cyprus marked "URGENT" and "CONFIDENTIAL" suggests that Gelion will be used to buy the penthouse to ensure Akhmetov's "privacy" without entering his name on the UK public property register.

"Privacy is the primary objective of real estate acquisition by Gelion," an email from a PwC employee explained. Open documents show that the sale took place the following year. 

The files also shed light on Akhmetov's involvement in Russia's coal industry after the 2014 annexation of Crimea. In 2016, Akhmetov's energy company DTEK transferred ownership of a number of coal mines to its Cyprus-based subsidiary Fabcell Ltd. It bought these mines in the south-west of Russia in the Rostov region four years earlier. DTEK also transferred obligations under a significant loan of about $400 million from Sberbank (Russia's largest state-owned bank) to the subsidiary company.

In January 2017, Fabcell reclassified its shares into 7,999 common shares and one golden share. The golden share was assigned to Sberbank, which would allow the bank to gain control over Akhmetov's company in case it defaults on its obligations.

In his statement to ICIJ, Akhmetov noted that SCM Holdings Ltd. (the main investment company of the SCM group) is the only Cypriot company in which he is a "direct shareholder" and that SCM consists of 500 legal entities in various jurisdictions. He also pointed out that the DTEK holding company is registered in the Netherlands.

Akhmetov's response states that financing provided by Sberbank and other lenders prior to the 2014 Russian invasion was "standard practice for Ukrainian borrowers." After the invasion, as Akhmetov notes, "the situation changed dramatically," and DTEK tried to sell the Rostov coal mines. After a buyer was not found, ownership of the mines was transferred to the Fabcell company in order to "limit (DTEK's - ed.) vulnerability to the demands of Sberbank as a creditor and pave the way for DTEK's exit from investments in Rostov coal mines." 

Akhmetov did not answered ICIJ's questions about the purchase of the London penthouse through the Gelion company. He declined to comment on "any investments or transactions that may or may not have occurred and their status."

Ukraine Front Lines

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