The activities of the Minister of Infrastructure of Ukraine, Oleksandr Kubrakov, and his deputy, Yuriy Vaskov, raise questions among the state's foreign partners. In particular, the officials' operations came under the scrutiny of FinCEN, a division of the US Treasury Department that investigates money laundering and financial crimes. In the meantime, our editorial team conducted its own investigation and learned the "offshore life" details of one of the key figures in the infrastructure industry of Ukraine, along with the threat of the "grain corridor" disruption. So, let's get started.
Photo: Kubrakov and Vaskov
Yuriy Vaskov - Deputy Minister of Infrastructure, the "Grain Corridor" curator. In 2011 he managed the Port of Odesa, in 2013 - the Administration of Sea Ports, in 2015 - in the position of the Ministry of Infrastructure. He also joined the activities of the "Party of Regions" - the political organization of the fugitive ex-president Yanukovych, who is accused of treason.
In the past, the current deputy of Kubrakov was involved in multimillion-dollar losses, which were investigated by the Office of the Prosecutor General in 2020-2021.
According to the ERDR case 12021000000000254 dated 18.02.21 (Part 5 of Article 191 of the Criminal Code), LLC "Odemara" and LLC "Odemara-Inter" falsified documents and overestimated the cost of the services provided. Both companies, by a strange coincidence, were owned by Vasyl Vaskov, Yuriy Vaskov's uncle. Over the course of three years 2018-2020 - these companies caused 5 million UAH per year losses to the state. So, the total amount of losses is 15 million UAH.
Vaskov is considered the person who created the "Audemara" companies, so he was and remains their unofficial owner.
As our editorial office found out, on April 12, 2017, Vaskov acquired the non-resident company "SORIUS TRADING LP" (Canada). Olga Makrytska, a citizen of Poland, born on August 5, 1959, is registered as the nominal director of the company. At the same time, "SORIUS TRADING LP" was formed on behalf of the general partner, the "Greenville Solutions Ltd" company, in the person of Olga Makrytska and the secondary partner, the "Linton Capital Ltd" company in the person of Mercedes Lohnen.
According to information from the managing partner, the "Linton Capital Ltd" company, the sole holder of shares and the manager of the "SORIUS TRADING LP" company is some Tkachenko I.I.
On April 8, 2018, Yuriy Vaskov purchased the company "ODM Logistics Limited" (Dubai), where Tkachenko was determined as an ultimate beneficiary. According to the materials of the financial audit conducted by the "HAM AUDITING" company (Dubai), Tkachenko is the owner and director of the "ODM Logistics Limited" company.
On December 13, 2018, Yurii Vaskov registered the "ODM SHIPPING & TRANSPORT" company in the city of Batumi (Georgia), later renamed to "OMNILOG SHIPPING LLC", the owner of which is Viktor Vaskov.
Also, under the control of Yury Vaskov is a "SUCEROLOGICS SHIPPING LLC" company, registered in the Batumi city in Georgia.
To carry out the settlements with the counterparties, accumulate an undeclared income and withdraw it within the "shadow", accounts in foreign banks (controlled by Tkachenko) were opened, namely:
1. "SORIUS TRADING LP":
-IBAN: SN 240882210600152000, opened at "CIM Banque", (Geneva, Switzerland);
-IBAN ME25570000111000649092, opened in "Zapad Banka" (Montenegro);
- IBAN LV28AIZK0000010415911 ABLV bank (Latvia);
- account 357027139502, Bank Of Cyprus (Cyprus).
2. "ODM Logistics Limited":
-IBAN АЕ250400000332667134001, IBAN АЕ950400000332667134002, IBAN АЕ680400000332667134003, IBAN АЕ410400000332667134004, IBAN AE600500000000028205718 IBAN AE060500000000028205720 відкриті в «The National Bank of Ras A1 Khaimah» (Дубай, ОАЕ).
3. "OMNILOG SHIPPING":
-IBAN: GE09BG0000000131216040, opened in "Bank of Georgia" (Georgia).
4. "SUCEROLOGICS SHIPPING LLC".
- IBAN:CH120882210647355000 "CIM Banque" (Geneva, Switzerland).
Vaskov built the scheme in such a way that out of every 10,000 agency dollars, 9,000 are "white" payments that go to the firm. But today it is 90% of the Ukrainian market. In that way, $1,000 goes to Ukraine, and $9,000 goes offshore.
In 2019, there was one more case - ERGR 6201900000000944 (Part 2 of Article 364 of the Criminal Procedure Code). According to the case file, officials of three state institutions - SE "Sea Port Administration", SE "Odesa Sea Trade Port" and the Ministry of Infrastructure implemented the so-called "tow scheme". At the same time, the state lost hundreds of millions of hryvnias. And it was at this time that Yury Vaskov was the deputy minister.
Note that Ukraine, together with the UN, is implementing the large-scale "Grain Corridor" project - the export of grain from Black Sea ports blocked by the Russian army. Zelenskyi's humanitarian project Grain from Ukraine has the same goal. However, both of these projects are under attack - they are compromised by the activities of officials who can implement scams related to grain and seaports of Ukraine.
Who oversees the export of Ukrainian grain?
The "Grain Corridor" became operational after agreements were concluded with the mediation of the UN and Turkey. The work of the corridor is supervised by the Ministry of Community Development, Territories and Infrastructure (Ministry of Infrastructure for short) headed by Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov.
During 2022, 20.024 million tons of grain and legumes were exported from the three operating ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk, and Pivdenny. Apparently, the products were exported only after the Black Sea coast was unblocked in August 2022. In December, a quarter of all grain was exported - 4.141 million tons.
The ports through which the grain goes - "Odesa", "Chornomorsk" and "Pivdenny" - are all located in the Odesa region. Meanwhile, one of Kubrakov's deputies, Yuriy Vaskov, is related to Odesa region.
It raises the question, is Yurii Vaskov really the person who can be trusted in good faith to oversee the implementation of the projects, that are so important for Ukraine?
Frauds with grain
Already in half a year, after the operation of the "Grain Corridor" started, cases began to appear against dealers who tried to illegally enrich themselves by selling grain. So far, the investigation has not gone beyond the borders of Odesa: it has not risen to the level of Kyiv and the central ministry.
Photo: from open sources
On January 3, 2023, the Security Service of Ukraine reported the discovery of a large-scale scam at the Odesa Customs. According to the data of the investigation, part of the grain that was taken out through the "Grain Corridor" was not accounted. Because of this, export taxes were not paid and the state did not receive hundreds of millions of hryvnias. https://ssu.gov.ua/novyny/sbu-likviduvala-koruptsiinu-skhemu-na-mytnytsi-rozkradaly-miliony-hryven-na-eksporti-ukrainskoho-zerna
In order to confuse the state authorities, the entrepreneurs resold the grain through several "pad" companies. This was discovered by the Bureau of Economic Security who warned the State Customs Service.
However, the customs officials ignored the warning and the businessmen's activities continued until the Security Service of Ukraine came to them.
It turned out that 370 companies participated in the process. With the support of the customs officials, the "dealers" illegally exported 1 million tons of grain products.
The Security Service of Ukraine reported that 10 officials, who worked in the State Customs Service and managed the Odesa Customs, took part in the scam.
Photo: Vyacheslav Voronyi
Meanwhile, the ties with Kyiv are not as distant as it seems. In particular, Vyacheslav Voronyi works as the director of the Department for the Organization of Ports, and Ruslan Sakhautdinov works as the head of the Odesa Port Administration. Both are the Yuriy Vaskov's godfathers.
Sale and business at seaports
The port in Mykolaiv, in Ukraine, is currently not functioning due to the constant Russian missile strikes. In addition, half of the Black Sea coast and all the ports of the Azov Sea are occupied. Therefore, the sale of Ukrainian seaports seems strange. With proper management, they could take over a significant share of cargo transportation. Instead, they are sold for nothing during privatization.
At the beginning of January, an auction was held for the sale of the Ust-Dunai port - it was sold for 201 million UAH. The price is suspiciously low for 15 hectares, with a functional port infrastructure.
The port employees spoke against privatization - they emphasized that the company had started to make money. In addition, National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine had to consider a statement against the State Property Fund, which conducted the auction with violations, as they suspect.
However, the Ministry of Infrastructure, which owned the port, did not wait - held an auction and sold the state enterprise at the price of the grain elevator.
Belgorod-Dniester port is also threatened. The privatization auction will be held on March 3. The starting price of the port is 187.6 million UAH, which is less than the starting price of assets - 283 million UAH.
Photo: Belgorod-Dniester port
In the description of the lot on the State Property Fund of Ukraine website, it is indicated that the port is unprofitable: in 2019-20, the amount of losses amounted to UAH 23.5-28.5 million. The amount of overdue payables is 14.7 million UAH.
The total area of the Bilhorod-Dniester sea trade port takes 50 hectares. The port is three times larger than the Ust-Dauna port, and they sell it for almost the same, even more ridiculous, price.
On February 4, 2022, the Security Service of Ukraine informed about the problems in one of the ports through which grain is transported - Pivdenny. Three years ago - in 2018 - the Chinese company was supposed to carry out dredging works. It received 60 million dollars for this. However, as the investigation found out, an amount of the soil actually removed was several times less than planned.
The state spent money in vain, the "South" port does not have the required depth near the port facilities. The person responsible for this is the ex-head of the Ukrainian Sea Ports Authority "Southern" branch.
Inhibition of the Ukrainian sailors' attestation and bribes for processing the documents to departure abroad
In 2018, the Ministry of Infrastructure decided to develop a new certification system for seafarers. Minister Kubrakov announced that he would create new solutions using information technologies.
The case with the new system has slowed down immediately. The Security Service of Ukraine blocked the register of maritime documents of Ukraine under pressure from the public, which organized rallies and blocked roads.
The public took to the actions, protesting against the introduction of changes in the process of certification and certification of seafarers. As it turned out, the protest actions were conducted by a special interested person - Khrystyna Korol.
Photo: Khrystyna Korol
Khrystyna Korol is a public figure who was allegedly offered a position in the Maritime Administration in exchange for organizing riots.
On December 14, 2022, the Security Service of Ukraine employees detained Korol on suspicion of bribery. https://dumskaya.net/news/sbu-zaderzhala-izvestnogo-blogera-kristinu-korol-171366/ua/
The woman worked in the "Ukrainian Union of Sailors". The investigation suspects that she was approached by sailors who wanted to avoid mobilization. The cost of the service is 6,000 USD.
In addition, another scam was implemented - passing qualifying exams for money. The cost of this type of service is 4,500-8,000 USD.
Khrystyna Korol is currently in custody. The lawyer defending her is Masi Naim.
Ukrainian law enforcement officers are also interested in two more types of violations that concern Ukrainian sailors:
- Odesa port workers issued documents to sailors without their personal presence;
- officials in the Maritime Administration have created an artificial shortage of special passports for seafarers, which are issued to travel abroad.
According to the facts, the Minister of Infrastructure Kubrakov and his deputy Yuriy Vaskov may be involved in violations in three areas:
- export of grain;
- privatization of ports;
- attestation and registration of documents for seafarers.
The law enforcement officers are continuing the investigation against persons related to both officials. However, the central authorities for some reason do not pay attention to this. Instead, the Order of Merit is awarded - Kubrakov received it in honor of Ukraine's Independence Day on August 24, 2022. The order seems to be hinting to these two officials, as well as others who behave in a similar way: you can continue, there will be no punishment.