"Pandora Papers": what did the Russian politicians who lit up in offshores say to us?

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"Pandora Papers": what did the Russian politicians who lit up in offshores say to us?
"Pandora Papers": what did the Russian politicians who lit up in offshores say to us?
5 October, 06:40Politics
The Pandora Papers include a number of former and current Russian parliamentarians and / or their family members. Investigative journalists claim that they are directly related to offshore companies, and that they hid their assets abroad in order to hide from taxes and not to provoke the anger of the people.

We called them all.

Yulia Suntsova

An international consortium of journalists released an extensive investigation called Pandora Pаpers the day before. It deals with the secret property and assets of presidents, officials, politicians and stars from around the world. In terms of the number of found offshore users, Russia ranks first.

The hidden deals were found, for example, from the family of the head of Rostec Serey Chemezov, the head of Transneft Nikolay Tokarev, the general director of Channel One Konstantin Ernst and others.

A special place in Pandora Papers is occupied by Russian former and current politicians and / or their family members.

Novye Izvestia tried to contact all the figures mentioned in the dossier who are credited with owning offshore companies. Half of the “list”, mostly former parliamentarians, turned out to be completely inaccessible for calls - for example, ex-deputy from United Russia Igor Kovpak, ex-senator from United Russia Sergey Mamedov, former deputy from United Russia and ex-senator Andrey Golushko.

It was not possible to interview the deputy from United Russia, ex-defendant in the "case of the Russian mafia in Spain" Vladislav Reznik. A few more politicians were held accountable by their assistants.

Investigators found an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands of the State Duma deputy from "Fair Russia" (2011-2021) Alexey Chepa. The found firm owns the Novikov restaurant in London (partially), a building and a garage near Kensington Palace and Hyde Park worth 2.4 billion rubles at the current exchange rate, the source indicates. Among other things, in the Duma, Chepa supported the law on "foreign agents", noting that "this liberalism led to permissiveness" and "this must be quickly stopped."

“Those who prepared this dossier talked with my assistants, wanted to meet with someone, talk, corresponded with some structures, as a result, a lot of mistakes and inaccuracies were made. Naturally, everything that is written about me there is a provocation. Why did you choose me? Maybe it's my political positions on some issues, the authors refer to it as my political position", - commented, "Novye Izvestiya" Alexey Chepa.

In a conversation with our special correspondent, the politician, however, confirmed that when he was a businessman he still had offshore companies:

“There were offshores, but we were normal, serious businessmen. Previously, everything was fine, then all over the world offshore companies were not prohibited, they were even welcomed, because it was convenient. Then, when the ban was introduced, I dropped everything. Everything was sold a long time ago. Not to relatives. The restaurant is for a foreigner, and the garage near Kensington Palace is news to me. If I find out anything about him, I will call you back".

The family of the richest State Duma deputy from "United Russia" (2007-2021) Grigory Anikeyev found two offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands - now the company belongs to his brothers, the source says.

In the Duma, Anikeev became a co-author of the law on "foreign agents", sanctions against the European Union, as well as the "Law of Dima Yakovlev" ("Law of scoundrels"). During 14 years of work in parliament, Anikeev took part in the discussions once, drawing attention to the mistake: he told the speaker that he had voted not “against”, but “for”; at the end of 2019, a government diploma for "merits in lawmaking", - the source said.

Anikeev's assistants answered by phone that they were hearing about Pandora Papers for the first time:

“We hear it for the first time. Grigory Viktorovich is gone. If he deems it necessary, he will give a comment, but only after the 11th. We can’t help anything else”.

A practically similar answer came from Oleg Tkach, assistant to a member of the Federation Council from United Russia.

Investigators found three offshore companies in his possession - in Cyprus, the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands. The founders and beneficiaries of the companies are relatives, one of the companies is owned by the wife through a trust, while the spouses of state officials are prohibited from doing business, the authors note.

“We won't see Oleg Polikarpovich before Wednesday, so we won't be able to ask questions before Wednesday. Now communication with him is one-way. As soon as he gets in touch, we will pass on the questions to him, because already several such requests are the same”, - Tkach's assistant answered by phone.

State Duma deputy from "United Russia" (2016-2021) Nikolay Petrunin answered the call himself: "What did you want?", - he asked, but after listening to the question, he simply hung up. I did not answer repeated calls.

The Pandora Papers mentions three of its offshore locations in the British Virgin Islands. Petrunin ceased to be formally associated with offshore companies after March 2016. In the Duma, he co-authored the law on responding to "unfriendly actions" of the United States and other states, and also supported the law on media "foreign agents", the source says.

The deputy from United Russia (2003-2021) Otari Arshba, when asked by Novye Izvestia to comment on the information about the offshore companies of his family in the British Virgin Islands, said that he had heard of such for the first time.

The investigation says that foreign companies belong to his daughter Inga Arshba.

“My daughter is 42 years old, so ask her questions if you want”, said the deputy to “NI”. - I don't have your offshore companies. Investigate further".

“Inga Arshba does not violate Russian law, but participates in construction, trade, restaurant and advertising businesses in Russia. And the parliamentarian himself, at the same time, heads the State Duma commission on ethics and control over income, and also systematically subscribes to laws against foreign influence”, - the investigation says.

In the regional reception office of the State Duma deputy from "United Russia" (1999-2021) Andrey Skoch, they said that they would not be able to comment on the parliamentarian's connection with offshore companies, since "the press service is on vacation".

“At the moment, the deputy is not here. It will be possible to receive a comment from his press service only after the 12th. I can’t connect with him in any way, it will be most convenient for us if you call back after 12”, - answered Andrey Skoch’s assistant.

In the investigation "Pandora Papers" It is said that the father of parliamentarian Vladimir Skoch is registered six offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands.

The family of the deputy Skoch regularly uses the benefits of the Western world: offshores, banks, airplanes, real estate, the source notes. Andrey Skoch himself and his family in 2021 were included in the list of the richest people in Russia according to Forbes. The deputy voted for the law on "foreign agents", for the autonomous runet, for the prohibition of the organizers of the actions to receive money from other countries, as well as for responding to the "unfriendly actions" of the United States.

The Pandora Papers revealed the activities of a large number of politicians, not only in Russia, but all over the planet, which did not correspond to the spirit of the law. In particular, offshore transactions of more than 100 billionaires, 35 world leaders and 400 civil servants were disclosed.

The dossier is based on the analysis of data from more than 11.9 million files with a total weight of 2.94 terabytes.

More than 600 journalists from 117 countries participated in the work on the archive.

On October 3, more than 150 media outlets from around the world simultaneously published investigations based on the leak of internal documents of offshore registrars - journalists call this the largest data leak in history.

The main question about Pandora Papers now is what consequences await exposed politicians and businessmen. Will the dossier give rise to political crises or at least prosecutorial checks?

The material used fragments of the investigation of "Important Stories" (they represented Russia in the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) ) - the publication was recognized by the Ministry of Justice as a mass media performing the function of a foreign agent.

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