Olena Rotari: Trukhanov & Co. suspected of laundering budget money abroad
Last week, detectives of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, or NABU, conducted mass searched across various districts of Odesa. The criminal proceedings looked into the organization of a criminal group, the fraud of Odesa City Hall, and the appropriation of money from the city’s budget.
But the investigation did not end there.
By July 8, on behalf of the prosecutor’s office, employees of the Security Service of Ukraine, or SBU, began seizing documents from the communal property department of the Odesa City Council.
The investigation relates to the sale of urban land.
Who is Odesa Mayor Gennady Trukhanov?
Obozrevatel publication released a rating list of regional mayors of Ukraine with the highest corruption risks. The mayor of Odesa, Gennady Trukhanov, scored second place in the top five of the worst.
He figures in several cases that the NABU is investigating, among them is the purchase of the administrative building of the former Krayan factory, the acquisition of the land of the former Zastava airfield, which was already communally owned, the appropriation of land under the Shkolny airfield, and deliberately falsifying information in the 2017 declaration.
In addition, the High Anti-Corruption Court is continuing the trial of the Krayan case and the false information that was submitted in the 2015 and 2016 declarations.
Investigators of the anti-corruption bureau are accusing Odesa City Hall and Trukhanov of laundering Hr 500 million, or $18.5 million. Trukhanov came into politics from the criminal world. He was first elected to the Odesa City Council in 2005. In 2012, Trukhanov joined the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine. Three years later, he headed Odesa City Hall.
He did not respond to a request for comment.
From rags to riches
Almost 30 years ago, Trukhanov opened his own security agency called Captain.
According to media reports, his clients were pretty serious companies, as well as one of the most influential characters in the criminal parts of Odesa — Leonid Minin.
He was arrested in Italy in the early 2000s for arms trafficking. The Odesa gang came into the view of the Italian police in the late 1990s, when the group was suspected of smuggling drugs and weapons. After the collapse of the U.S.S.R., some gang members moved to Europe, while Italy was used as their base.
According to Italian police reports, Trukhanov was part of an organized criminal group in the 1990s and lived in Rome. During a police check in the summer of 1997 in Belgium, he presented his Greek passport in the name of Hennadii Uzopulos. For four years, Italy’s anti-mafia police department has been monitoring gang activities across the continent. Police listened to the criminals’ phone calls — the things the group members were discussing were cruel.
The gang had a clear mafia structure, each of its members played a role. Among them was Oleksandr Angert, nicknamed Don Odesa (Angel). Police say he was once jailed for murder.
Angert could not be reached for comment.
The police refer to Trukhanov as a man who trained gang members “hand-to-hand combat and sniper shooting with precision weapons.”
The group of Minin-Angert also included Russian businessman Oleksandr Zhukov (founder of many Trukhanov’s enterprises).
Then came Volodymyr Galanternik, who also could not be reached for comment. At some point, he worked under the “roof” of Odesa’s crime boss Viktor Kulivar (nickname Karabas).
After his murder in 1996, Galanternik began to look for a new boss. The rapprochement with Angert occurred through Trukhanov, who regularly traveled between Italy and Odesa.
Despite the evidence, most of the gang members were never charged since their crimes were not committed in Italy. In the end, the investigation against the mafia was terminated.
In the 2000s, Angert settled in London. Through commercial enterprises controlled by him, he specializes in banking, insurance and construction business.
According to preliminary information, he is the owner of several banking institutions located in the United States and England. The members of the group decided to invest their money in elite real estate in London, having spent millions of pounds. But the operations were not carried out under their real names, rather through offshore companies registered in the British Virgin Islands.
Trukhanov returns to Odesa
Meanwhile, a decision was made for Trukhanov to return to Odesa, in order to start his political career.
According to the criminal council, that way it was easier to transfer Ukrainian state money abroad.
What is already known about budget money laundering?
As a result of a database leak from Panama Papers and documents obtained by Paradise Papers, journalists found out about the Appleby law firm, which provided offshore services, including to members of the Odesa criminal gang.
According to the documents, accountant Oleksandr Popivker, who lived in London was in charge of creating and leading dozens of offshore companies known as the Rubicon Group with the help of Appleby. According to Air Force reporters, the mayor of Odesa had large stakes in four offshore companies operated by Appleby.
Now, the international anti-corruption organization Transparency International has called on the National Criminal Investigation Agency in the UK to investigate the origin of the funds for which the London assets of the offshore corporation Rubicon Group were acquired.
It is noted that previous investigations by Transparency International found 4.4 billion pounds’ worth of real estate in the kingdom acquired with funds of questionable origin.
Some of these facilities worth £762 million belong to people from Ukraine. Also, according to the investigation of the journalists Slidstvo. Info and the Organization for Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, Trukhanov’s family owns a three-bedroom apartment in one of London’s elite buildings.
This became known from the documents of Paradise Papers. The apartment is 117 square meters and is located in a building called Chilterns on 24 Paddington Street.
According to the British Real Estate Register, in May 2016, Peninsula Property Holdings SA, registered in the British Virgin Islands, and paid £3.7 million (approximately $5.2 million) for an apartment on the fifth floor of a new elite building. Owners of the Peninsula Property are unknown.
However, according to Paradise Papers, the shareholder of the company is another company with BVI — Squadra Azzura Corporation. The shareholders of this company, and therefore the owners of the London apartment, are 51-year-old Tetiana Koltunova and 31-year-old Kateryna Trukhanova.
These women are respectively the wife and daughter of the Odesa mayor.
According to OCCRP reporters, at Knightsbridge Road 199, there are three more apartments that belong to the Angert family.
The documents of the British real estate register indicate that in 2015, the daughter of Oleksandr Angert, Anna, at that time who was 22 years old, bought an apartment on the fourth floor of the building for £12.5 million ($19.3 million).
The same documents show that she owns two more neighboring apartments on the same floor. The Angert family spent about $60 million on real estate on just one house.
CCRP also got access to Popivker’s letter to Appleby with documents attached, according to which the family of Galanternik lives in the same house, but on the third floor.
According to the British Land Registry, in January 2015 a certain company from the Isle of Man bought this apartment for £4.6 million (roughly $7 million).
Also, according to our sources who were not authorized to speak publicly, Galanternik was involved in the collapse of the BSSC (Black Sea Shipping Company).
In 2011 he was the one in charge of the bankruptcy commission of the enterprise.
The millionth property of the BSSC was sold through Hertensteegh B. V. At that time, this company was one of the founders of Vladimir Halanternik’s bank, SotsKomBank.
Today, according to media reports, Galanternik owns several construction companies in Odesa, controls the media, the Privoz market, the City Center shopping center, the coastal territory of Arcadia City, retail facilities on Starosennaya Square, the Green Wood luxury housing complex and Hotel De Paris, located 50 meters from the Potemkin Stairs.
In fact, the ultimate beneficiaries of his entire business are companies registered in the UK and the USA.
Olena Rotari is a journalist with Channel 7 Odesa and Daryna Sarhan is a translation editor. The KADORR Group in Odesa owns Channel 7 and the Kyiv Post.