Monday, December 23, 2013

Sahaj Marg's Gift of Ten Million Dollars

Taken and Translated from an article: "Un Cadeau de Valeur de Dix Millions de Dollars" by Alexis, on Élodie's Blog in Europe: Pour Que Vive Le Sahaj Marg.

December 20, 2013 

A Gift With a Value of Ten Million Dollars 

Dirty money recycled through SMSF? 

In 2012, the equivalent of $ 10 million was offered (as a donation?) to the Indian Sahaj Marg Spirituality Foundation (SMSF) by Mentor Financial Ltd from the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands. Behind this offshore company hide Viktor Gushan and Ilya Kazmaly, two former officers of the Soviet intelligence services and the co-founders of the no.1 corporation in Transnistria. When he implemented ​​this donation, Kazmaly (a preceptor of Sahaj Marg) had recently left his country for an unknown destination after resigning from the Supreme Soviet and abandonning the head of Sheriff Holdings ...

Clean money or dirty money? I do not know, but the question needs to be asked. So that everyone can have an idea,
(what is known of) the history of the enrichment of these two businessmen is assumed to have been told in detail. It is worthy of the best spy novels of Gérard de Villiers or John le Carré: a phantom state, a geopolitical context with Cold War overtones, political corruption and collusion with the world of finance, wild (frontier?) capitalism and mafia practices, shell companies in tax havens, organized crime laundering money in offshore front (or "shell") companies ... 

Do you know Transnistria (or Transdniestria) or DMR (or MRD Moldavian Republic of Dniestr)? 

A Breakaway region of Moldova, Transnistria is a small strip of land, less than 25 miles wide, on the eastern bank of the Dniester River, marking the border with the Ukraine or an area equivalent to that of the Oriental Pyrénées region (department?), making it a sort of Russian enclave between the Republic of Moldova and the Ukraine.

"A trans-border black hole of organized crime, notably in drug trafficking, human trafficking and arms smuggling," according to Mircea Geoana, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania. A country of the former soviets, "Transnistria is a territory of geographical Europe where the USSR, its system, its administration, decorum and methods are still in place: a truly historic conservatory" said Jean- Baptiste Naudet of the Nouvel Observateur (New Observer).

Still called the Moldavian Republic of Dniestr, Transnistria was created on the ruins of the Soviet Union. Neither recognized by the the international community nor by Russia, this phantom state from one of the last conflicts of the Cold War has been presided with an iron hand for 20 years by Igor Smirnov, who is closely linked to the Russian oligarchic interests. 

Perhaps you are more familiar with the football (soccer) club: Sheriff of Tiraspol? 

The largest corporation in the region, Sheriff Holdings is known to be the owner of the football team of  Tiraspol, where it built a sports complex of more than 200 million dollars. Much is being said about the Sheriff group: a front for money-laundering on a large scale at the heart of a pseudo state which is nothing but a partnership for smuggling.

“(…) often using the violent “gangster capitalism” tactics prevalent throughout the post-Soviet region in the1990s to do so, allegedly racking up dozens of economically motivated killings along the way (…). according to Michael Bobick (Article of September 30, 2010, in Transitions OnLine: In Transdniester, One Company Is a Law Unto Itself).

Created from scratch with the privatization of the Soviet economy in 1993, the holding company today allegedly control about 50% of the real estate market and 90% of the fuel (energy) in the country.  Sheriff soon took advantage of the political isolationism of the country to build its monopoly in many sectors of the regional economy. Thus, Viktor Gushan and Ilya Kazmaly, former officers of the Soviet secret services and co -founders of the holding company, are employing more than 12,000 people in a dozen companies and various industrial plants.  According to the newspaper "Adevărul" (The Truth ) quoted from article in  Moldova Azi, Sheriff's turnover would have exceeded 4 billion lei in 2010 [Romanian currency, or 900 million euros], up 300 million compared to 2009 [67 million euros]. 

The group also owns a chain of supermarkets, food processing plants, the main network of service stations, car dealerships (Mercedes), an advertising agency (Klassika), a television Network (TSV), a mobile telephone operator (Interdnestrcom), a brandy factory (Kvint), etc...  

Is Sheriff  the cause or a symptom of the ills that plague the Transnistrian society, the poorest in Europe?  That is the question, and opinions are divided ... 

Collusion between Sheriff and President Smirnov?

Vladimir Putin allegedly called Transnistria: "The Republic of Sheriff!".   During the presidency of  Igor Smirnov (1991-2011), the Sheriff group was the main contributor to the state budget, approximately $30 million, almost 30% of the total taxes paid by enterprises, and 17% of the revenues of its annual budget, according to Kamil Calus (Article May 16, 2013, in OSW Commentary: An aided economy. The characteristics of the Transnistrian Economic model) . In return, Sheriff  has handsomely benefited from special privileges ...

Oleg Smirnov, son of the former president would allegedly be one of the top managers of the group, with no one  ever being able to prove it.  Vladimir, the other son of President Smirnov, was the Minister of Customs, and a major silent partner among the company executives.  One thing is for certain, Sheriff and the Smirnov family have maintained a very close relationship. So much so that Lucy Ash of the  BBC writes:

“Organised crime experts in the UK suspect that Sheriff really belongs to the first family of the rogue republic, and claim the Smirnovs use it to launder money.” in: Misery in a pariah state dated 1/04/2004.

So, until the end of 2012, the holding company has received tax breaks, such as tax reductions for import and export, and the right to do business in foreign currencies when other companies had to use the local currency. The organization could export its currency, and without limits or tariffs: one  part was spent on the purchase of property, another part was diverted to tax havens. 

Sheriff, primarily responsible for the fall of Smirnov? 

The two former KGB officers have cleverly taken advantage of the fall of the Soviet Union and the isolationist policy of Pres. Smirnov to build and develop the Sheriff GroupIn the early 2000s, when the country became too small for their appetite, the two businessmen began to demand change. Always in order to serve their interests, they have become strong advocates of a liberal opening. 
Sheriff is taking an active part in the emergence on the national political scene of  Obnovlenye (Renewal), a movement created by liberal leaders of companies. In 2005, haivng meanwhile become a political party, Obnovlenye wins the elections. Yevgeni Shevchuk, former director of a branch of the Agroprombank commercial bank (a subsidiary of Sheriff) , becomes the head of the Supreme Soviet.  Ilya Kazmaly and Ilona Tyuryaeva, the (female) Director of Human Resources at Sheriff, are elected members under the same brand.  In 2011, the old guard, loyal to the Smirnov family loses the presidential election and Shevchuk heads the country. 

Gushan and Kazmaly have shown their limitless ambitions: not only to control the economic life of the region but also the politics, always to extend the economic domination of Sheriff . The effectiveness of their propaganda, particularly through the television networks of the holding company, has paid off.
But the influence of this group and its two leaders has become so powerful that it is scary. It even frightens their ally if yesterday, Yevgeni Shevchu, so much so that on December 29, 2012,  the new president put an end to the privileges of Sheriff. Meanwhile, Kazmaly resigned from the Supreme Soviet and left Sheriff, the holding company. Gushan remains alone at the helm of the company ... 

Gushan and Kazmaly in Tax Havens? 

On 10 June 2013, the Moldovan Center for Transparency and Civic Participation (Particip) revealed that Gushan and Kazmaly own several companies in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands, through the Independent Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and their original revelations about tax havens through its transnational program OffshoreLeaks (article from Particip in Moldovia: Sheriff in Marea Caraibelor).

Within a few days in April 2004, in the Caribbean Sea, the two businessmen became shareholders of four offshore companies. They first created "Vanora Financial Ltd." on April 6th, then on April 20th, they became directors and shareholders of "Civilpark Limited", a company founded in May 2001 by the Cypriot, Stelios Joakim . Three days later, they founded the company "Mentor Financial Ltd " and "Orion Intervest Ltd" . All these companies were registered in Tortola, the Virgin Islands capital, through the "Commonwealth Trust Limited".

Thereafter, the Sheriff group used its offshore company Orion Intervest Ltd to import products into Transnistria.  The company even received a fine for violation of the customs legislation on March 23, 2012. 
According to documents from OffshoreLeaks project, Ilya Kazmaly still has interests in 3 other offshore companies registered in the British Virgin Islands. On May 2nd, 2007, Kazmaly and a Cypriot resident named Branislava Grozdanovic, became directors of offshore "Minos Marketing Ltd", "Morganton Investments Ltd" and "Palac Trading Ltd"; all three created in May 2005 through their company "Eurotrade Nominees Ltd". 

Using Networks of Illicit Activities and Money Laundering?
Commonwealth Trust Ltd (CTL) and Eurotrade Nominees Ltd : Gushan and Kazmaly having astutely chosen their intermediaries looking little at their clientelle, in creating their offshore companies.  The success of these intermediaries is based on the coverage of their customers who want to remain in the shadows and opacity which they throw on their financial transactions. They offer an ideal shelter for persons related to political corruption, arms trafficking and organized crime which could not exist without them.

Among the directors of  Eurotrade Nominees Ltd, Stephen Kelly and John Jesse Grant Hester were both pinned by OffshoreLeaks to be part of the hit parade of offshore business owners. Born in 1976 in the UK, Hester alone, runs more than 1,500 offshore companies.  He apparently co-directed a company involving a controversial figure, arrested and convicted for fraud and association with mafia activities in Italy, according to Dandreagalli (Article May 22, 2013, in Economic Crime Intelligence). Previously, he was the director of a company used by the regime of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to circumvent the "Oil for Food" program of the United Nation , according to Gerard Ryle and Stefan Candea ((article du 7 avril 2013, in ICIJ).

Regarding the CTL (Commonwealth Trust Lt.), it has been repeatedly accused of violating the anti- money laundering legislation. It is interwoven with several rogue businesses, but the most iconic of them is the Magnitsky scandal, according to Michael Hudson et al.
(article du 5 avril 2013, in Mail & Guardian) . 

In 2007, three Russian companies held by the investment fund Hermitage Capital are victims of a raid and are rejected by the underworld. The new owners demand 150 million euros (230 million dollars) from the Russian officials, which they get 5 days later.  The tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky denounces a plot hatched by organized crime and Russian officials of the Russian state crime. Victim of arbitrary justice, he dies in prison two years later, at his turn accused of tax evasion.

The money was paid in rubles, converted to dollars and transferred West on the same day through a chain of no less than 40 shell companies so as to cover any traces of the fraudsters, including twenty which had been created by the CTLThe latter (CTL) was founded by Toronto, Canada millionaire Toronto Tom Ward, who declares in  a
written reply to ICIJ  issues ( quoted from CBC News Canada April 5, 2013) reply: " “CTL's problems were, by and large, directly proportional to its market share. (…) I regard myself as an ethical person. I don't think I intentionally did anything wrong (…)”.  Ward and CTL are not accused of having actively participated in the theft of the Russian treasury, but it is thanks to them that such matters can be arranged. 

Who is Kazmaly and Whant happened to him in 2012?
According to the website of the Supreme Soviet of Transdniestria, Ilya Mikhailovich Kazmaly is a Russian of "gagauze" origin, born April 7, 1962 (Gagauzia is an autonomous region in southern Moldova, where the Turkish-speaking Orthodox dominate).  Kazmaly worked as an officer of the Soviet intelligence services, then as Chief of the Criminal Brigade of Tiraspol, before founding the Sheriff Corporation in 1993 with Viktor Gushan.  In 2005, he was elected to the Supreme Soviet as a member of the opposition under the Obnovlenye brand, having long been one of the main supporters of President Smirnov.

In April 2012, Kazmaly abandons his responsibilities at Sheriff group, he resigns his position as Deputy to the Supreme Soviet, and maybe even leaves the country for an unknown destination ...

Having just left everything, he donated the equivalent of $10 million in six payments between the 8th and 26th of June, 2012 via his offshore financial company,  Mentor Ltd, to the Sahaj Marg Spirituality Foundation in India. To my knowledge, a preceptor of Sahaj Marg since 2005 at least, he has been a member of the Shri Ram Chandra Mission for over 8 years.  Whatever happened to him?


Blowing a Kiss From Cyprus? 

Following the scandals surrounding the CTL, Gushan and Kazmaly repatriated all their offshore companies in the Virgin Islands to Cyprus, via the "Christabel Corporate Services Ltd " in Limassol. 

Cyprus: the "Island of the Russians ", the "Russians' private Switzerland",  the "Russian rear guard in the Mediterranean", the qualifiers don't lack to describe this country which counts from 35 to 50 000 Russian-speaking citizens, so much so that Limassol has been nicknamed: "Limassolgrad" . 

Like the Virgin Islands, Cyprus is another tax haven for Russian "banksters" where shell companies remain anonymous because taxes regulations are weak and banks are discrete. In the report released in November, 2012, the German intelligence believed that the Russians hold approximately 25 billion euros on the island. 

Small paradise island of the European Union where the Russian Mafia rubs shoulders with the Moscow secret services. This is the washing machine of dirty money-laundering for Russian criminals and the country of tax-evasion for the Moscow oligarchs, through tax agreements between the two countries.  It is also a starting point for all of the mafia's arms trafficking and for the new Tsar of Russia for destination to  Syria, Lebanon and Iran. 

Limassol is a familiar environment for Kazmaly who is right at home in the aphrodisiac of this seaside resort of southeast Cyprus.

A long chain that ends in the pockets of Chari?

Recall the context : a fortune built on the dismantling of the Soviet economy, wealth, political and financial corruption, the use of money-laundering establishments, of illicit arms trafficking and organized crime. All this in the poorest countries in Europe (GDP less than 1,200 euros per capita, an average salary of not more than 115 euros per month). "The many young people who can not afford to continue their studies, are often condemned to unemployment or a low-paying job ... at Sheriff ." According to Judith Sinnige (Article 26/01/2012, in Cafébabel).

Legally, this money is it clean or dirty?  I do not know! Morally that's another story ... The origin of the $10 million is it ethically acceptable? Chari has been concerned about the provenance of the money? Just recently he said: " (...) I always thought that having too much money tainted our understanding of these finer values ​​of life (...) . We have these maxims , the Ten Maxims we have the discipline of Sahaj Marg, the moral code of Sahaj Marg, all designed to make us perfect . "( Speech by Chari on 10.21.2013 ). The moral code of Chari and the values ​​of the Mission (VBSE ) have they crumbled? Nothing is less certain!  Has Chari even questioned himself?

Money has no smell and Chari is recycling some morally dubious money in the low-level plateau of spiritualism. 
These people are made to understand one another.  (Birds of a feather flock together) .


Additional references:

 Transdniestria: The Country That Did Not Come In From The Cold
 Financial Times, by Thomas Escritt , June 23, 2011

In Sliver of Old U.S.S.R., Hot Soccer Team Is Virtual State Secret
New York Times, by James Montague, 19 août 2012

Vie, mort et résurrection de la controversée Commonwealth Trust Limited
Le Monde, by Stéphanie Chayet, Michael Hudson et Marina Walker Guevara, 6 avril 2013

Chypre: base arrière russe en Méditerranée ?
Atelier Europe, by Camille Roux, 19 octobre 2012

Donations étrangères effectuées à la SMSF indienne
FCRA, Ministry of Home Affairs, India 2012-2013

1 comment:

4d-Don said...

Elodie said ...

Alexis added a new comment to your article " A gift worth ten million dollars "

[A small addition that is important]

Who is Kazmaly and what happens to him in 2012?


In April 2012, Kazmaly abandoned his responsibilities at the Sheriff Group, he resigned his office of deputy to the Supreme Soviet, and maybe even leave the country for an unknown destination ... and Chari appointed him coordinator of the SRCM for Turkey in May not far from Cyprus.

Having just left everything, he donated the equivalent of $10 million in six payments between 8 and June 26, 2012 via his company offshore financial Mentor Ltd, the Sahaj Marg Spirituality Foundation in India. To my knowledge, preceptor of Sahaj marg since 2005 at least, he is a member of the Shri Ram Chandra Mission for over 8 years.

What has it happened to him?

Sunday, January 19, 2014