Millions of euros from Russia to Britain, via Cyprus

The activities of Russian oligarch Alexander Shchukin have thrown Cyprus into the whirlpool of international media. According to media reports, the Russian Authorities have asked, through Interpol, for details of Shchukin’s bank accounts and offshore companies, through which some €500 million appear to have been transferred from Russia to Britain.

The international media have implicated the Russian tycoon, who is currently under house arrest, in cases of conflict of interests in relation to the ownership of coal mines in southwestern Siberia, extortion and illicit acquisitions of assets.

Specifically, a recent report by Russian site, which was based on an older report by British newspaper The Guardian, refers to Shchukin’s activities and to the suspicious routes of millions of euros from Russia to Britain, through companies with headquarters in Cyprus. It further notes that Shchukin would use illicit and unfair practices to blackmail his competitors, thus managing to bring coal mines under his control, which he would then transfer to Cypriot offshore companies.

The Guardian brought details of the way Shchukin operated to light. According to the British newspaper, the former director of the “Gramoteyinskaya” and “Tagaryshskaya” mines, Igor Rudyk, was arrested on the unprecedented charge of… having an expired passport! After being detained for 24 days, Rudyk was informed that he was facing a five-year prison sentence.

He later stated to The Guardian that they had offered to release him, with the condition that he would sign the concession of the coal mines. “I did it because I wanted to get out,” he stressed. According to the report, when the “Gramoteyinskaya” mine came into Shchukin’s possession, it was transferred to an offshore company in Cyprus, called “Cyrith Holding”.

“All the Russian businessmen knew that London was the best place to have their money and Cyprus the best transit point for this cause,” said The same report makes extensive reference to the activities of people in Shchukin’s close family circle. Specifically, the husband of Shchukin’s daughter Elena, Ildar Uzbekov, son of a former senior executive of Russian energy giant “Gazprom”, appears to be the individual in charge of transferring the capital from Russia to Britain, via companies registered in Cyprus.

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