How Three European Oligarchs Looted 100s Of Millions From Ukraine


Three Ukrainian oligarchs traded part of around $1.5bn in illicit assets traced to cronies of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, an exclusive investigation by Al Jazeera revealed on Sunday.

They did so as the war-torn country struggled to return suspected misappropriated funds to its coffers.

An unsigned contract obtained by Al Jazeera's Investigative Unit identifies Alexander Onyschenko - the gas tycoon, former member of parliament and currently one of Ukraine's most-wanted men - and Pavel Fuchs, a real estate tycoon who made his fortune in Moscow, as the buyers in the illegal deal.

Other documents suggest the seller was Serhiy Kurchenko - a fugitive Ukrainian gas tycoon based in Moscow who was known as Yanukovich's "family wallet".

The contract obtained by Al Jazeera, revealed in The Oligarchs investigation, said Onyschenko and Fuchs paid $30m, including cash and a private jet, for the Cyprus-based company, Quickpace Limited.

That company held $160m-worth of bonds and cash, which was frozen by a Ukrainian judge as they were suspected of being proceeds of crime.

The findings were "unbelievable", said Daria Kaleniuk, executive director of the Anti-Corruption Action Centre (ANTAC).

"It sounds like an agreement between criminal bosses, you know? You can sign it with your blood."

It is illegal in Ukraine and abroad to trade with frozen assets.

"The whole idea is I've frozen the asset because I think it's the proceeds of crime," said Jon Benton, former director of the International Corruption Unit at Britain's National Crime Agency.

"It's like trading in stolen goods that have been taken by the police. You're putting the cash in the getaway car," he told Al Jazeera.

The buyers aim to make a $130m profit by persuading a judge to unfreeze the assets.

Article 4.4 of the contract said that the buyers would cooperate in "taking action to remove the arrest from the accounts" held by Quickpace Limited.

Looted state

Ukrainian authorities froze the assets in June 2014 across numerous companies in Cyprus, the UK, Panama, Belize and the British Virgin Islands totalling $1.5bn. It is estimated that that Yanukovich and his cronies stole far more.

Evidence found on Yanukovich's abandoned property hidden outside Kiev showed one of his clan's corporate networks. Documents obtained by Al Jazeera expose another.

They reveal how Yanukovich's clan pumped stolen money into companies in Ukraine with bank accounts in Latvia and gradually passed it through dozens of offshore shell companies in Cyprus, Belize, British Virgin Islands and other money-laundering hotspots including the UK.

"The philosophy of money launderers is just to create a situation where the money has moved through so many different companies and so many different countries, in so many different accounts that it would be almost impossible to recreate the trail," said Bill Browder, chief executive of Hermitage Capital.

Yanukovich's name never appeared on any of the paperwork.

The companies bear the names of nominee directors - cut-out characters who appear to be the owner of a company, but simply act on instruction by the real owner.

Ukraine's new authorities started to look into the corrupt schemes after Yanukovich's removal from office in 2014.

It began a series of reforms that included the establishment of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU).

But nothing important has been achieved in terms of the prosecution of the corrupt individuals or the recovery of the stolen assets.

"Resistance is very strong from the elites who are in power now and the more we investigate, the more we face this resistance," Artem Sytnyk, NABU director, told Al Jazeera.

"Parliament is taking steps to sideline the management of the Anti-Corruption Agency and take control."

Nazar Holodnitsky, Ukraine's special anti-corruption prosecutor, refused Al Jazeera's requests for information, saying: "Until this investigation is complete, any comments, assertions regarding the existence or absence of certain documents is premature."

Onyschenko took the position that there was nothing wrong with buying a company holding frozen assets. "You can buy cheap and try to fix the problem to make money," he told Al Jazeera.

Onyschenko confirmed Fuchs' and Kurchneko's role in the deal, but denied the deal went ahead.

"It was like normal business, but this has not happened. We didn't buy."

However, a Cypriot lawyer and the NABU, who worked on the deal, confirmed the sale of Quickpace went through and company documents record a transfer of ownership to one of Mr Fuchs's companies.

Al Jazeera obtained a record of an initial payment of $2m from an account at Barclays Bank to another at a Russian-owned Latvian bank, Norvic Banka.

Currently, Quickpace is owned by Evermore Property Holdings Limited, a Cyprus company, which, in turn, is owned by Dorchester International Incorporated. Fuchs is its owner.


are we there yet researchfix Mon, 01/08/2018 - 05:19 Permalink

my company travels to Ukraine several times a year setting up the sale of anti-corruption equipment for various government agencies (usually funded by the US). There is wide spread corruption of officials in the Ukraine, but there are also very dedicated people trying to fight it bravely. I personally know of one death and one shooting fighting such crimes.

In reply to by researchfix

Wild E Coyote AllBentOutOfShape Mon, 01/08/2018 - 09:35 Permalink

Yeah, also according to article, Yanukovich name did not appear in any of the documents. But somehow he is responsible.

And Anti Corruption activities were blocked by both current Ukraine leaders and the parliament, yet somehow Yanukovich is again responsible for this mess. 

Logic implies that there were loot sharing problem among the current leaders and their agents. The agents are being hanged out to dry.  

In reply to by AllBentOutOfShape

fairmontobsever shitshitshit Mon, 01/08/2018 - 15:40 Permalink

    Your username is extremely offensive, especially when deliberately placed next to the most precious symbol of the Russian Orthodox Church.  The Russian Orthodox Church lost 40,000 clergy, more than 100,000 monastics, and 40,000 churches to Communist massacres.  It is a miracle that it still exists, and you are showing cultural-religious hatred by using our sacred symbol with your offensive username.

    It is very offensive for you to use the Russian Orthodox Christian cross, no matter what you think of yourself call yourself and your moral standing (reflected in your username). You have nothing to do with Christianity in Russia. Otherwise, I and others will consider that usage(symbol + offensive wording) an actual example of Nazi-like propaganda. Are you going to use other religions' most beloved symbols in your demonic hatred of all things good?


In reply to by shitshitshit

SoDamnMad Juggernaut x2 Mon, 01/08/2018 - 03:19 Permalink

Biden thought he could bringing fracking and oil and gas energy to Ukraine. Perhaps skim some of that off for the DNC and daddy's run in 2020.  Given Russia cut Ukraine off, they are running a lot of old "Chernobyl design" RBMK nuclear plants flat out to produce electricity given much of the coal from the Donbass region is cut off.  Periodic shutdowns for inspections have been eliminated and reactor life extended making for some potential troubles along with fuel rod changes from Russian companies to Western manufacturers.  Big potential troubles for not just Ukraine but Eastern Europe.

In reply to by Juggernaut x2

To Hell In A H… Mon, 01/08/2018 - 02:34 Permalink

White Criminals. Plain and simple. These bastards should be strung up with their Jewish Oligarch counterparts when judgement day arrives.

Like I said in another post. When Nuland & Co fucked up Ukraine, the gutting of state assets, plundering the citizens and future generations of their inheritance was an afterthought.

The other problem is New York and London as we all know. They facilitate the plunder by allowing laundering to take place inside their jurisdiction. Their justification is "If we don't do it and make money, then the dodgy money will go elsewhere" 


FlKeysFisherman Mon, 01/08/2018 - 03:08 Permalink

Speaking of oligarchs whatever happened to Larry Ellison and that $200 million he was paid for the Oregon Obamacare website that never worked?

Nothing happened. The California Attorney General is slow walking the case and the media doesn't mention it. Unbelievable how they just steal right in our face and get away with it.

To Hell In A H… FlKeysFisherman Mon, 01/08/2018 - 05:53 Permalink

It's not unbelievable how they steal in our face. It is entirely predictable, because cunts like Tucker Carlson et al will get a whiff of the story, it will get slapped down in editorial, the Carlson's of the world know about the shelving of these type of stories and who they protect, but they continue in paid employment as normal, and collect his multi-million dollar Shekels a year, knowing he is intellectually dishonest and a disgrace to journalism. Their type could leave in disgust, but they prefer to take the money. 

In reply to by FlKeysFisherman

Joe A Mon, 01/08/2018 - 04:02 Permalink

The new regime continued the looting. New boss same as the old boss. Plus, all the gold was shipped out.

The only thing that works is to start anew. Round up the old elites and dispose of them. The problem is, rather sooner than later new corruption will start.

squid Mon, 01/08/2018 - 04:54 Permalink

Ukraine's authorities didn't look at shot, except how to get in on the action.


As if the new boss is any different from the old boss.





JohnGaltUk Mon, 01/08/2018 - 06:13 Permalink

I have been to the Ukraine many times,


I have paid off judges

I have paid off Policemen

I have paid off Immigration Officials

I have paid off civil servants

The place is a joke, being crooked is in their DNA.

Neochrome Mon, 01/08/2018 - 06:36 Permalink

Yanukovich was West's darling until he refused to sign EU deal at the last moment when presented with costs to Ukraine economy for doing so. It was at that exact moment that he became corrupted, otherwise he would be just fine and acceptable for the West just like Poroshenko is now...

DeeZ_nutZ Mon, 01/08/2018 - 07:37 Permalink

so, just outta curiosity - why all of the putin lovers are now sitting quietly with their collective tongues up their anuses and not crying about "legitimate president yanukovich" overthrown by the evil nazis?  stealing billions from ukraine's people is perfectly ok as long as putin is ok with it, but getting kicked out for being a total douche and fucking thief is not ok?


Neochrome DeeZ_nutZ Mon, 01/08/2018 - 09:42 Permalink

He was kicked out for refusing to sign EU deal, the West couldn't care less who exactly is the one transferring money from Ukraine to the West. If you want to kick someone out for "being a total douche and fucking thief" start with Poroshenko, but yeah, I guess Ukraine now is fucking rainbows and unicorns.

As for your retarded "evil Nazis" sarcasm, not sure if you are denying that Nazis are evil or that factually veritable Nazis are in Ukraine ranks...

In reply to by DeeZ_nutZ

currency Mon, 01/08/2018 - 09:20 Permalink

UKRAINE is one CORRUPT STATE? WHO STOLE UKRAINE's GOLD? YOU HAVE THEIVES on BOTH SIDES. THEN add in the US Gov't CASH? THEN all the stolen properties and Resources. 

UKRAINE is just one corrupt country.

rwe2late Mon, 01/08/2018 - 09:39 Permalink

 often tricky wording in article.

"traded part of 1.5 billion" (my emphasis)

Yanukovych "cronies"? or "clan"? paid 30 million for a Cyprus-based company which held 160 million in bonds and cash that were "suspected" (my emphasis)

"judge" froze assets in June 2014 (after the February 2014 US-engineered coup)

Article never states when the purchase of the Cyprus-based company was made. The "documents" allegedly were found in Yanukovych's estate. But Yanukovych fled from Ukraine in February 2014. The suspected assets were reportedly not frozen by a judge until June 2014. (an inconsistency?)

The Ukrainian investigator states there is political "resistance" currently to his investigation of suspected corruption.

I suspect (my emphasis) there has been corruption before, during, and after the February 2014 coup. 

I do not favor the oligarchs of the former Soviet Union who made their billions with the neoliberal "reforms" promoted by the US and its cronies.

But the article appears to me to be a publicity pitch for the "color guard" faction of the 2014 Ukraine "color revolution(sic)".