Family venture of Evgeny Elin, Deputy Minister of Economic Development
Evgeny Elin, the Deputy Minister of Economic Development, and his wife Zhanna Smirnova demonstrate financial miracles. First, Zhanna Smirnova ‘inherited’ business from the husband who has joined the Government, and now, with a pretty humble – for a functionary’s wife – income, she is about to launch a development project worth 5 billion rubles ($87.7 million).
It is quite normal today that wives of functionaries are phenomenally successful in business. All of them become successful businesswomen after the appointment of their husbands to high governmental posts. Zhanna Smirnova, the spouse of Evgeny Elin, Deputy Minister of Economic Development, is not an exception. Smirnova has carved out an impressive career in the banking sector and was a Vice President of the Moscow Interbank Currency Exchange in recent years. But in 2009, Elin joined the civil service, and the professional interests of his wife have immediately expanded beyond the banking and focused on the business previously managed by Evgeny Elin.
Prior to the joining the governmental service, Elin was the general director of three companies at once: Briz (Breeze) Construction Company, Aleksandro-Nevskaya Manufaktura (ANM), and Technopark of St. Petersburg Open Joint Stock Company belonging to the municipal administration. The two last companies are of special interest. ANM was founded by Baltinveststroy company to manage Aleksandro-Nevskaya manufacture that has ceased its operations in 2003. Technopark of St. Petersburg Open Joint Stock Company had been created to develop Ingria Technopark intended to become a St. Petersburg analogue of Skolkovo and ultimately forgotten. Prior to his transfer to the governmental service, Elin, being the general director of Technopark of St. Petersburg, had opened Ingria Business Incubator. Interestingly, the only location available for Ingria was the territory of Aleksandro-Nevskaya manufacture also managed by Elin.
Elin had contributed to ANM much more than to St. Petersburg. During his rule, ANM has opened Fidel and ANM business centers, hosted the above-mentioned Ingria Business Incubator (later it moved to another location), and attracted plenty of commercial tenants leasing its storage spaces. In 2009, Elin has become the Chairman of the Committee of Economic Development, Industrial Policy, and Trade of St. Petersburg. Of course, he had to resign from his commercial posts. But the official had so close ties with ANM that a few years later Zhanna Smirnova has become the general director of Aleksandro-Nevskaya manufacture. The main achievements of Smirnova in this new capacity had mysteriously coincided with career advancements of her husband.
It is necessary to note that Evgeny Elin has been climbing up the career ladder by seven-league steps and in August 2013 became a Deputy Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation. Shortly after that, some serious changes have occurred with Aleksandro-Nevskaya Manufaktura Closed Joint Stock Company. According to SPARK-Interfax, Baltinveststroy company, the owner of the industrial complex, has sold it, and Smirnova became the head of the company. Later the company has changed the owner and incorporation form one more time. Today ANM Limited Liability Company is headed by Zhanna Smirnova and belongs to Cyprus-based Naturart Holdings Limited offshore company. Naturart Holdings Limited, in turn, belongs to Ampleway Ltd. incorporated in the British Virgin Islands whose beneficiaries are unknown.
Coincidence or pattern?
In November 2016, after the arrest of Aleksey Ulyukaev, Elin had to perform the duties of the Minister of Economic Development for some time. Although Maksim Oreshkin has been appointed to that post pretty soon, the short-term rule of Elin was pretty beneficial for his family. At that time, ANM-Development Limited Liability Company was established by the parent ANM company owning 70% in it and Zhanna Smirnova owning the remaining 30%.
It is necessary to note that even prior to the establishment of ANM-Development, Smirnova was not an ordinary hired manager. The spouse of the Deputy Minister of Economic Development is the sole proprietor of Aston Food company and owns shares in Aston and Aston+. According to Delovoy Peterburg (Business St. Petersburg) portal, Aston and Aston+ maintain a café chain in a business center located on the premises belonging to the manufacture. Allegedly, Aston Food was created for salmon farming, but this project is currently on hold – unlike the ambitious plans of ANM-Development.
The aspiring new player on the development market has already announced the construction of a business-class residential complex. It would be erected instead of the current warehouses of Aleksandro-Nevskaya Manufaktura. It is very difficult – even for a mature developer – to obtain a permit for construction in former industrial zones of St. Peterburg – but novice ANM-Development is about to start the works as early as this fall. Experts estimate the cost to build a luxury housing complex on the embankment close to the Smolensky garden at some 5 billion rubles ($87.7 million). The majority of this sum is to be borrowed from credit institutions.
It is difficult, however, to explain the role of Zhanna Smirnova in this project as a co-investor. The official income of the business lady is not consistent with the scale of the project. According to the anti-corruption declaration of Evgeny Elin, he and his wife have earned together some 18 million rubles ($315.7 thousand) in 2015.
Evgeny Elin, Deputy Minister of Economic Development
Even if the spouses had starved and invested all the money into the business, there would be not enough funds to acquire 30% in an elite construction company. Perhaps, the beneficiaries of Ampleway Ltd. decided to donate a share in the business to Smirnova? Offshores are always full of surprises...
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