The international investigative project of journalists “Cassandra,” which is engaged in 110 media from 88 countries, including ICIJ, BuzzFeed, OCCRP, published the study of secret documents of the US financial intelligence (FinCEN) that fell into their possession.
In the list of financial transactions that attracted the attention of FinCEN, there were those in which Russians appear. Among them, ICIJ names entrepreneurs Oleg Deripaska, Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, former chief of staff of Boris Yeltsin and presidential adviser Valentin Yumashev, as well as a cellist and close friend of Vladimir Putin Sergey Roldugin. Some of the documents related to Russia were published by the portal “Important stories,” which cooperates with an international group of investigators.
The investigation is based on the leak of more than 2.1 thousand suspicious activity reports (SAR) that global banks submit to FinCEN. For comparison, FinCEN receives more than 2 million such reports annually. Suspicious activity reports are not necessarily evidence of a violation of the law. FinCEN requires banks that do business in the United States to provide reports of suspicious activity in cases where there is reason to doubt the legality of the transaction.
The files were leaked to BuzzFeed News, which shared them with the International consortium of investigative journalists. BuzzFeed does not comment on how they got the documents. The US Congress collected some of these files as part of an investigation into alleged Russian interference. In January 2020, former FinCEN employee Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards pleaded guilty in a US court to unauthorized disclosure of SAR reports to a certain journalist (presumably BuzzFeed). The reports cover the period from 1999 to 2017.
FinCEN condemned the leak, saying such incidents may motivate banks to file fewer suspicious activity reports for fear of disclosing confidential information.
It became known about the Russian business from this file
According to journalists who studied the documents, in October 2010, the company associated with Roldugin Sandalwood Continental received $830 thousand from the Cyprus Dulston Ventures. The basis of the payment indicated that this is a payment for the extension of the loan agreement. According to the investigative consortium, Dulston Ventures is listed as an affiliate of several Russian companies that are part of Alexey Mordashov’s Severgroup.
According to journalists, Valentin Yumashev, a Pro-Bono adviser to the President, received $ 6 million from Epion Holdings Limited from the British Virgin Islands. This company, according to investigators, belongs to billionaire Alisher Usmanov.
Rotenberg brothers, as noted by the BBC, which participated in the investigation, despite the sanctions, made international payments through the London Bank Barclays. For example, Arkady Rotenberg managed to transfer $ 7.5 million when buying Rene Magritte’s painting La Poitrine. This was previously noticed in the US Senate, a representative of the businessman then said that the deal was legal.
According to FinCEN, the American holding company Bank of New York Mellon transferred more than $ 1.3 billion worth of transactions “related to Oleg Deripaska” from 1997 to 2016. Through Deutsche Bank, investigators say, between 2003 and 2017, even more transactions were made in the interests of Deripaska-in the amount of $ 11 billion.
“Important stories” also write that they found suspicious transfers to the account of the wife of the former Deputy Head of “Voentorg” Leonid Teif Tatyana in the FinCEN report. The couple was arrested in the United States in 2019 on charges of embezzling $ 150 million in Russia. Journalists found a transfer to Tatyana Teif of about $ 400 thousand from Hong Kong Ringo Trading Limited, associated, according to investigators, with the leader of one of the largest platforms for cashing funds, convicted banker Sergey Magin.