Billionaire and Russian senator Suleiman Kerimov, who is kept under house arrest in France and accused of tax evasion and laundering money, obtained from criminal activity, invested in Snapchat even before Snap Inc. was floated on the stock market, Forbes Russia reports.
The initial public offering of the American company is called one of the biggest failures in recent years. It is not the first time Suleiman Kerimov lost his money. As Forbes wrote, in 2008, in the middle of the crisis, he lost almost $20 billion invested in shares in Western banks and American companies. Despite the bad fortune, in early December the Nice prosecutor Jean-Michel Pretre reported that Suleiman Kerimov illegally imported into France from 500 to 750 million euros in cash in suitcases. According to Pretre, the purpose of the operation was not the purchase of real estate, but the legalization of funds.
Friend and business partner of Suleiman Kerimov, Russian oligarch and ex-politician close to the Russian government, Sergei Gordeev also prefers investing in American start-ups. Thus, in 2015, Sergei Gordeev admitted to investing in a startup, which is working on the Hyperloop project, based on the ideas of Elon Mask. The oligarch invested $10 million in the company. Suleiman Kerimov is connected with Sergei Gordeev by one of the largest construction companies in Russia, PIK Group. At the end of 2013, Suleiman Kerimov sold almost 20% of his shares in the company to Sergei Gordeev, who managed to increase his stake to almost 75% by the end of 2017. From 2013 to the present time, PIK Group is affiliated with a number of Cypriot companies (IONICS DIRECTORS LIMITED, IONICS SECRETARIES LIMITED, Mediterranenan Directors Limited) and private individuals (Pampina Votsi, Vasiliki Andreou, Cleo Vasiliou, Androula Charilaou, Georgios Kyrou Chr.) related to the largest mafia syndicate run by Semion Mogilevich, a man wanted by the FBI. The information about the company and private individuals was divulged by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in June 2013. It is worth noting that as of September 30 of this year IONICS DIRECTORS LIMITED and Pampina Votsi are still listed as PIK Group affiliates, despite the fact that Sergey Gordeev owns approximately 75% of the company, and a few percent belongs to VTB Bank.
The very same Cypriot companies that are associated with PIK Group and its shareholders borrowed several tens of millions of dollars from the Russian Trust bank and did not return it.
In May 2017, the main office of PIK Group was searched. The operation in the company’s office was conducted by the FSB, which indicates that the company and its shareholders have serious problems.
Sergei Gordeev also held a stake of about 30% in a small oil company Ruspetro Ltd, calling it a promising investment. But due to financial problems, Ruspetro Ltd delisted from the London Stock Exchange, and later about 50% of the company’s shares were put up for sale for $20 million, although as early as 2014 the company was valued at $676 million.
According to Russian journalists, Sergei Gordeev, just as Suleiman Kerimov, cannot perform legimate business activities in Russia without the involvement of corrupt officials, and try to legalize the dubious funds they obtained in Russia in Europe and the US. It is known that Suleiman Kerimov bought real estate in Nice, and Sergei Gordeev owns a big house near London.