Yakunin’s inner circle: Yachts instead of fur coats
The CrimeRussia has learned how those who had ‘made money’ on governmental contracts during the rule of the former President of Russian Railways spend the embezzled funds.
Similarly with many other Russian entrepreneurs, ‘authoritative’ businessman Boris Usherovich has made a fortune thanks to his closeness to the circles of power. He can’t be characterized as an ‘oligarch’ – neither does Usherovich sell the natural resources of Russia nor implements ambitious federal projects. He did not even siphon off budget funds – just assisted the power brokers in doing this – but his help has been rewarded in kind. The scheme was simple: for example, a major governmental structure has to perform certain works on its facilities. A company affiliated with people who, in turn, have ties with the management of the governmental structure is retained as a contractor. The actual implementation of the works in normally delegated to third-party subcontractors, while the friends of the governmental managers act as intermediaries and pocket the lion’s share of the profit.
Railroad is my feeder
Usherovich was a member of such a group of ‘friends–intermediaries’. His ‘older bro’ Andrei Krapivin (died in Switzerland in 2015) was a close friend of and freelance aide to Vladimir Yakunin, President of Russian Railways.
Russian Railways was this ‘major governmental structure ’ used in their corruption schemes – Usherovich, Valery Markelov, and Yuri Obodovsky had owned numerous companies ready and willing to perform any work for Russian Railways at the budget expense.
For example, in 2014, United Construction Company 1520 Limited Liability Company, a subsidiary to 1520 Group of Companies belonging to Krapivin, Markelov, Obodovsky, and Usherovich, has won a tender to electrify the Baikal–Amur Mainline Railway and Trans-Siberian Railway for the total of 28 billion rubles (€463.9 million).
Bamstroymekhanizatsia company has won a tender to modernize the East Polygon infrastructure in the same year. Shortly before this, the company had changed its owner: Vasily Tarasenko, Chairman of the Board of Directors, has sold 52% of shares; Cyprus-based Sterema Ltd. offshore company was among the buyers. In an interview to the press, Yuri Obodovsky, Director of 1520 Group of Companies, had named Bamstroymekhanizatsia “the shock battalion” of his group.
These are just a couple of examples from the past. In addition, the recent arrest of a Russian citizen employed with the local branch of Canada-based Bombardier in Sweden has reminded about some corruption episodes in companies affiliated with Russian Railways. The bribery case has been heard in court, and at very first sessions, it turned out that the Swedish branch of the transportation giant had been conquering the CIS market through bribes and kickbacks using dummy companies affiliated with the inner circle of Yakunin. It became known that products for railroads had been supplied to Russia via Multiserv Overseas Ltd. offshore company. Currently, it is controlled by Aleksey, son of Andrei Krapivin, while Obodovsky was its first director.
Usherovich had worked for Krapivin as an ‘overseer’, controlled the situation in his legal business, and ‘settled’ issues. According to the documents, everything is perfectly legal – Usherovich owns many companies: Megatel International New York (U.S.), Ak-Finance Limited Liability Company (21.5%), NPG 1520 Limited Liability Company (28.3%), Genkom Limited Liability Company (50%), Altair Realty Limited Liability Company (100%), Aldo-Wolf Stroy Limited Liability Company (99.9%), Astra Realty Limited Liability Company (100%), Information Technologies Scientific and Technical Center Limited Liability Company, and 1520 Group of Companies Limited Liability Company (28.3%).
Aleksey Krapivin is a partner of Usherovich in Ak-Finance, NPG 1520, Information Technologies Scientific and Technical Center Limited Liability Company, and 1520 Group of Companies Limited Liability Company. According to the Panama Papers, Usherovich also owns Fanont Investment Ltd. offshore company jointly with Obodovsky and was affiliated with Solace Investing Ltd. together with Andrei Krapivin, Markelov, and some Avgousti Despoina.
According to CrimeRussia sources, the duties of Usherovich in the team led by Krapivin included the ‘enforcement support’ of all operations – because he had ties with ‘Solntevskaya’ organized criminal group (some people close to him claim that he had connections with ‘Lipetskaya’ gang as well). This is the reason why ‘Solntevskaya’ gang acted as the client in the attempted assassination of banker German Gorbuntsov.
In 2010, Gorbuntsov had fled Russia fearing for his safety. In March 2012, an assassination attempt against him was committed in London. The banker was hospitalized with severe gunshot wounds and survived by miracle. After that, he has provided the above information about Usherovich and his accomplices.
Larisa, ex-wife of Gorbuntsov, has confirmed the ties between Usherovich and ‘Solntevskaya’ criminal group. According to her, during the period of their friendship, Usherovich had repeatedly mentioned his connections with the organized crime. In addition, after the discovery of a shortage in the bank of Gorbuntsov – which, according to one of the versions, was a result of unprofitable commercial projects run by his partners who had used the bank funds – Usherovich has started the ‘expropriation’ of assets belonging to Gorbuntsov threatening his family. According to Gorbuntsov, he was deprived of “six banks, six plants, and over 100 thousand square meters of commercial space”. The assets seized by the former partners included Incredbank, Sokolniki sports palace, and Flat & Co construction company.
Krapivin and Usherovich reportedly had ties with notorious billionaire colonel Dmitry Zakharchenko from the General Administration for Economic Security and Combatting the Corruption of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA). The policeman could ‘cover up’ operations of the group led by Krapivin that had monopolized the governmental contracts of Russian Railways. Zakharchenko used to earn €150 thousand per month for that – but he couldn’t accumulate some 8 billion rubles (€132.6 million) in his apartment for his entire lifetime; therefore, it can’t be ruled out that the majority of the seized funds belonged to Markelov who was responsible for liaison with law enforcement authorities in the group of Krapivin.
This is how the enormous money had been earned. But how is the henchman of the aide to the ‘supreme rail man’ using his fortune? Apparently, yachts are a major passion of Usherovich. After all, he can afford this, so why not? The CrimeRussia has obtained evidence that he owns Gloria Teresa yacht.
The 42-meter luxury motor three-deck super yacht built in Spain and sailing under the UK flag is able to charter up to 10 passengers (in addition to the crew). It is an excellent choice for Mediterranean cruises. The open sundeck is equipped with sunpads, hot tub, bar, and large table. The interior features design décor and hand-made Italian leather furniture.
However, it was pretty costly for the owner to put it into such a perfect shape. The average annual maintenance cost of a yacht is some 10% of its total value. This includes insurance, taxes, summer dock, winter storage, maintenance works in the beginning of the navigation season (spring) and in the end of it (fall), putting the ship afloat, transportation, crew costs, fuel, etc. Taking that the average cost of a used yacht of that class is some €40–60 million, it is easy to calculate how much Usherovich has to pay for it every year.
The above expenses do not include repairs – that are inevitable for any second-hand machinery. Since a certain moment, the yacht of Usherovich started requiring more and more attention and efforts. There are plenty of recommendations and warnings on the Internet for those who decided to acquire this expensive ‘toy’: their authors unanimously state that the yacht would suck up enormous time and money and it is necessary to think twice before purchasing it.
According to the CrimeRussia source, upon purchasing Gloria, Usherovich had to spend some €300 thousand on it; including €180 thousand to paint the hull. Plus the costs of wharf, hydro, water, etc. – in Europe these expenses may total some €15 thousand per month.
Our source says that various fantasies of Usherovich were pretty expensive, too – he wanted to install jogging tracks on the yacht at the cost of €9 thousand and equip it with an additional fishing boat suitable for a large company.
Below are some examples of such boats:
The problem is that many such boats won’t fit in the yacht – so the boat must either proceed under its own power in the wake of the yacht or be installed instead of the life-boat.
‘Headache’ instead of enjoyment
The yacht-related expenses include crew costs. In addition to the captain, the following personnel must be paid on the year-round basis: chief ship engineer, chief stewardess, seaman–engineer, and boatswain. During the cruise, cook, additional stewardess, and seaman join them. The total monthly crew costs are some €40–50 thousand.
There are also ‘other’ costs – travelling allowance, accommodation, rent of transport, food, etc.
During the navigation season, the main expenses include fuel, food, Internet, harbor dues, technical maintenance, etc. – up to €50–70 thousand per month in total.
Preparations for the navigation season are pretty expensive, too. A source well aware of the situation with Gloria Teresa told us that in the framework of such seasonal preparations, elements of the mast for satellite TV and Internet signal reception had to be replaced. He estimated the total cost of this work, including labor of engineers and other specialists, at least at €60 thousand.
This fuss never ends: no matter how much you have done, more repairs will be required next year.
According to the source, the cost to reconfigure the compartment for storage of personal watercrafts and other mechanisms using gasoline was additional €60 thousand. The sailing regulations require the garage to be equipped with fire extinguishing systems, gas and smoke exhausting systems, carbon dioxide diffusers, and other accessories.
But there are no boundaries to perfection: €40 thousand to replace all the carpeting on the ship; €30 thousand to sew new uniform for the crew; generally speaking, every item for a yacht costs enormous money: embroidered slippers for guests – €800, beach towels – €1.5 thousand, etc.
While the owner is away, the yacht is offered for charter for €135 thousand per week.
In the meantime, Usherovich is continuously looking for a new yacht instead of Gloria Teresa and receives offers from sellers on a regular basis. He had seriously considered the following proposals: Luxury Latinou yacht priced at €43 million, Jemasa yacht for €41 million, and 56-meter Allegro yacht for €45 million.
Alas, all of the above deals have fallen through – so Usherovich attempted to trade in his Gloria: the owner of Maraya yacht was ready to enter into negotiations.
Apparently, this deal fell through as well – and Usherovich and his family still continue using the same old yacht whose maintenance costs seem not too high for their household budget. By the way, the cost to prepare Gloria Teresa for the current navigation season was over €600 thousand.
Currently the yacht is anchored in Limassol, Cyprus; it has arrived there from Kuşadası, Turkey.
The prosecutors want the former Russian Federation Council member to go to prison for 14 years instead of 9 and pay a 500-million-ruble ($8.8 million) fine instead of 70 million rubles ($1.2 million).