Altering arms: Belarusian businessman listed in EU transfers property to linked individuals

The holdings of an EU-sanctioned Belarusian businessman have been transferred to individuals linked to his corporations within the days following his appointment, elevating potential questions concerning the affect he would possibly proceed to train on the entities.

Mikalai Varabei was nominated on the finish of final 12 months by the EU for benefiting from his hyperlinks with Alyaksandr Lukashenka, the nation’s chief. Varabei took full possession in 2018 of Interservis OOO, one of many largest gasoline and diesel wholesalers in Belarus, when he purchased the stake held by his longtime buddy Aliaksandr Shakutsin, who was additionally sanctioned on the finish of final 12 months by the EU.

Nevertheless, Varabei divested itself of the vast majority of its holdings within the days following its sanction, together with the corporate that owns Interservis, transferring possession to the individuals described. by a Polish media focusing on a Belarusian public as being linked to its companies.

Underneath EU sanctions, property managed or majority owned by sanctioned actors are additionally blocked. Management of an entity can present itself by a sure variety of “decisive affect” indicators, together with the ability to nominate senior executives, affect over company technique and shared identifiers, corresponding to frequent addresses, in line with a 2018 replace EU finest practices for efficient enforcement of sanctions. A senior Russian protection official additionally withdrew from his stakes shortly after being sanctioned by the EU, Kharon reported in november.

Krasny Bor OOO had served as Varabei’s holding firm for Interservis, however he was transferred on December 21, 2020, a number of days after Varabei was sanctioned by the EU, to the longtime chief accountant of Interservis and two others, certainly one of whom purchased an organization in 2018 in Krasny Bor, in line with Belarusian media.

In response to information reviewed this month, Vyacheslav Atrakhimovich owns 30 p.c of Krasny Bor; he’s the chief accountant of Interservis. Alesya Berezhnaya owns 40 p.c of Krasny Bor; its relationship with Varabei stems from a 2018 buy of Resurs Tanker OOO, a big Russian oil buying and selling firm, in Krasny Bor.

Interservis in October 2020 held a three-quarters stake in Novaya Neftyanaya Kompaniya, the one non-public firm licensed by the federal government to export processed oil and gasoline in Belarusian state refineries, in line with media stories.

An organization owned by Interservis and a suspected German affiliate of Ukrainian politician Viktor Medvedchuk operates a part of a pipeline that provides Russian and Belarusian diesel gas to Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed an official decree on Friday who instructed authorities officers to nationalize the pipeline. Given its “financial and protection significance”, the Nationwide Safety and Protection Council stated it was essential “to take pressing measures to return state property to the Ukrainian individuals,” the assertion stated. hurry.

Varabei additionally owned the Belarusian firm BelKazTrans till December 2020, when the stake went to Lidiya Ushakova. The switch occurred every week earlier than Varabei’s appointment. Ushakova held a stake from 2020 in Neonafta, an oil buying and selling firm which was operated by “Varabei executives”, in line with Belarusian media in 2018. Neonafta additionally owned the constructing the place Novaya Neftyanaya Kompaniya’s workplace was registered, Belarusian media additionally reported. Final 12 months.

Lidiya Ushakova’s hyperlinks with Mikalai Varabei

BelKazTrans Belarus had monopoly management over the transit of coal by the nation, in line with Belarusian media, citing enterprise executives and business insiders. The corporate is “one of many greatest power carriers within the CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States] international locations close to and much overseas, ”in line with the media. He ships petrochemicals from Russia to international locations in Europe, together with Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, in line with commerce knowledge.

Varabei additionally has pursuits within the transit of Russian coal by Ukraine. BelKazTrans Ukraine, a separate entity nonetheless majority-owned by Varabei, was the “solely forwarder” licensed to ship Russian coal by Ukraine, in line with a 2019 Russian media report.

He has extra pursuits in Ukraine and has been described by Ukrainian media as a accomplice of Medvedchuk’s oil and gasoline business, a Ukrainian politician who was sanctioned in 2014 by the USA as “a longtime proxy and shut private buddy of Russian President Vladimir Putin”. On Friday, the Ukrainian authorities sanctioned Medvedchuk and his spouse for “financing terrorism”, in line with a press launch from the president, citing a legal investigation.

Varabei’s appointment in December additionally scuttled his lawsuit in opposition to the Ukrainian department of BTA Financial institution, a troubled Kazakhstan-based lender that was trying to promote property. The Nationwide Financial institution of Ukraine cited the sanctions as one of many causes it withdrew its help for its buy of the native department of BTA.

Varabei has been implicated in a number of “grey patterns” of oil and coal exports, in line with media stories in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia; he was referred to as “oil captain of Belarusian corruption” by Belarusian media.

Interservis was concerned in one of many schemes, wherein he was accused of reselling Russian government-subsidized oil, in line with a 2013 coverage doc from the Worldwide Management Fee and media stories. Belarus has an settlement with Russia to purchase oil from Russia tax free, however Belarus has to pay an export responsibility to Russia when it’s re-exported. Interservis would import the oil from Russia, however re-export the oil within the type of “solvents” or “diluents” to bypass export duties, in line with the 2013 steering doc.

The Lukashenka authorities raised between 2 and three billion USD from this program within the first half of 2012, the newspaper estimates. Corporations linked to Varabei and Shakutsin have been concerned in an identical program extra not too long ago in 2018, in line with Belarusian media.

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