Reminder: Oligarch Volodymyr Zelensky Hides Millions of Dollars in Offshore Companies

Zelensky and his partners owned a network of offshore companies related to their business based in the British Virgin Islands, Cyprus, and Belize. His current chief aide, Serhiy Shefir, as well as the head of the country’s Security Service, were part of the offshore network.  Offshore companies were used by Shefir and another business partner to buy pricey London real estate. Zelensky gave his shares in the offshore company to Shefir and they made arrangements for Zelensky’s family to continue receiving money.

Wanna bet a lot of that taxpayer money Biden keeps feeding him has been “invested” for his own use?

The Guardian

It was a storyline that in earlier times would have seemed impossible. For four years, the actor and comedian Volodymyr Zelensky entertained TV audiences in Ukraine with his starring role in the sitcom Servant of the People. Zelensky played a teacher who, outraged by his country’s chronic corruption, successfully runs for president. In 2019, Zelensky made fiction real when he contested Ukraine’s actual presidential election and won.

On the campaign trail, Zelensky pledged to clean up Ukraine’s oligarch-dominated ruling system. And he railed against politicians such as the wealthy incumbent Petro Poroshenko who hid their assets offshore. The message worked. Zelensky won 73% of the vote and now sits in a cavernous office in the capital, Kyiv, decorated with gilded stucco ceilings. Last month, he held talks with Joe Biden in the Oval Office.

The Pandora papers, leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and shared with the Guardian as part of a global investigation however, suggest Zelensky is rather similar to his predecessors.

The leaked documents suggest he had – or has – a previously undisclosed stake in an offshore company, which he appears to have secretly transferred to a friend weeks before winning the presidential vote.

Zelensky has not commented on the claim despite extensive attempts by the Guardian and its media partners to reach him. His spokesperson Sergiy Nikiforov messaged: “Won’t be an answer.”

The files reveal Zelensky participated in a sprawling network of offshore companies, co-owned with his longtime friends and TV business partners. They include Serhiy Shefir, who produced Zelensky’s hit shows, and Shefir’s older brother, Borys, who wrote the scripts. Another member of the consortium is Ivan Bakanov, a childhood friend. Bakanov was general director of Zelensky’s production studio, Kvartal 95.

All are associated with Zelensky’s home town in southern Ukraine, Kryvyi Rih. After winning power, Zelensky brought these close allies into government. Bakanov became head of Ukraine’s SBU security agency. Zelensky made Serhiy Shefir his first assistant, an unpaid role that involves handling the president’s daily schedule. A fourth member of this close-knit group, Andriy Yakovlev, is a film director and Kvartal 95 producer.

………Before becoming president, Zelensky declared some of his private assets. They included cars, property and three of the co-owned offshore companies. One, Film Heritage, which he held jointly with his wife, Olena, a former Kvartal 95 writer, is registered in Belize.

But the Pandora papers show further offshore assets that Zelensky appears not to have revealed. Film Heritage had a 25% stake in Davegra, a Cyprus holding company. Davegra in turn owns Maltex Multicapital Corp, a previously unknown entity registered in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands (BVI). Zelensky, the Shefir brothers, and Yakovlev each held a 25% stake in Maltex.

On 13 March 2019, two weeks before the first round of voting in Ukraine’s election, Zelensky gave his quarter stake in Maltex to Serhiy Shefir, documents show. It is unclear if Shefir paid Zelensky. Bakanov witnessed this secret transfer and signed the offshore papers.

……In a recent opinion piece for the Atlantic Council, Zelensky said his ultimate goal as president was to destroy “the traditional oligarchic order” and to replace it with a “fairer system”. Critics, however, say Zelensky has failed to reform the state and embraced the same shadowy ways as his predecessors. EU auditors warned last month that “grand corruption and state capture” remained widespread in Ukraine.

Since entering politics Zelensky has been dogged by claims he is under the influence of Igor Kolomoisky, a billionaire whose TV channel screened Zelensky’s show. During the campaign Zelensky’s opponents alleged $41m from Kolomoisky entities found its way between 2012 and 2016 into offshore firms belonging to Zelensky and his circle, including Film Heritage.

 

Zelensky runs his country like his own personal cash cow.

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