A carpet of money for the President of Guatemala: how a simple ambulance doctor from Almaty found himself at the center of an international scandal

Google trans­lat­ed

Eurasian Resources Group, con­trolled by the gov­ern­ment of Kazakhstan (40%), as well as busi­ness­men Alexander Mashkevich , Patokh Shodiev and the heirs of Alidzhan Ibragimov, found itself at the cen­ter of yet anoth­er cor­rup­tion scan­dal, this time in Latin America.

According to the Guatemalan pros­e­cu­tor’s office, a cer­tain “group of Russians” bribed the coun­try’s pres­i­dent, Alejandro Giammattei, to obtain per­mis­sion to build a new bulk car­go ter­mi­nal in the coun­try’s largest port, Santo Tomas de Castilla. The cash for the pres­i­dent was wrapped in a car­pet before being hand­ed over.

At the begin­ning of the sum­mer, the anti-cor­rup­tion agency of Guatemala tried to inves­ti­gate the bribery case. Almost imme­di­ate­ly, its head Juan Francisco Sandoval was fired, and then fled the coun­try, tak­ing with him all the evi­dence he had col­lect­ed. Now he him­self has become a defen­dant in the pros­e­cu­tion’s inves­ti­ga­tion into the dis­clo­sure of con­fi­den­tial infor­ma­tion (the very evi­dence) — in par­tic­u­lar, about per­sons who may be direct­ly relat­ed to the trans­fer of mon­ey to the President of Guatemala.

We have col­lect­ed all the impor­tant infor­ma­tion about this inci­dent, tell about its par­tic­i­pants, as well as about the role of the “Eurasian Group” and Alexander Mashkevich personally.

Essence of the question 

According to the Guatemalan edi­tion of Elperiodico, in mid-January, the direc­tor of the Swiss com­pa­ny International Metal Supply (IMS) Marina Pozzi Pedulla pre­sent­ed the IMS Atlantic Bulk Cargo sub­sidiary to the man­age­ment of the Guatemalan National Port Company (Empornac) as a can­di­date for the man­age­ment and con­struc­tion of a new port ter­mi­nal in the town of Puerto Barrios. …

Two months lat­er, Atlantic Bulk Cargo was reg­is­tered in the com­mer­cial reg­is­ter of Guatemala with an address that com­plete­ly coin­cides with the com­mer­cial address of anoth­er Guatemalan sub­sidiary of IMS, the min­ing com­pa­ny Mayaniquel SA. A cer­tain Andrei Antonov was appoint­ed the legal rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the com­pa­ny, which was sup­posed to start work in the port . It was about the con­struc­tion of a ter­mi­nal on an area of ​​at least 150 thou­sand square meters, which, after com­ple­tion of the work, could han­dle up to 5 mil­lion tons of sol­id bulk mate­ri­als per year. The project cost was esti­mat­ed at $ 30 million.

International Metal Supply, head­ed by Marina Pozzi Pedulla, is reg­is­tered in Switzerland at the same address as anoth­er com­pa­ny, where a woman also holds a lead­ing posi­tion — Telf AG. This struc­ture, in turn, is the main exter­nal trad­er of the prod­ucts of the Eurasian Resources Group, which the group receives from the Kazakh projects Shubarkul Komir and Kazchrome.

International Metal Supply is affil­i­at­ed with International Mineral Resources, owned by the Eurasian Resources Group, divid­ed between the Committee for State Property and Privatization of the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Mashkevich, Shodiev and the heirs of Alidzhan Ibragimov.

Links between Swiss, Guatemalan and Kazakh companies

According to Guatemalan jour­nal­ists, which they received from the escaped head of the anti-cor­rup­tion depart­ment Juan Francisco Sandoval, in the sec­ond half of April a del­e­ga­tion of “Russian busi­ness­men” land­ed in the cap­i­tal of Guatemala, who were sup­posed to influ­ence the deci­sion on the choice of the final con­trac­tor for the devel­op­ment of the port.

As an argu­ment, accord­ing to Sandoval, the vis­i­tors brought cash with them, which was wrapped in a car­pet. After ban­dag­ing the gift with a red rib­bon, they took it to the res­i­dence of the President of Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei. It is not known what amount is in ques­tion, since the direct wit­ness was present only dur­ing the trans­fer of the mon­ey already packed in a car­pet — the source of the inves­ti­ga­tion worked as a body­guard for one of the Russians.

A few months after the trans­fer of the car­pet, Antonov asked to reduce the cost of rent­ing a port build­ing land from $ 4.5 to $ 1 per square meter. According to jour­nal­ists, his request was granted.

After infor­ma­tion about the pos­si­ble bribery of the pres­i­dent appeared in the pub­lic domain, the nation­al com­pa­ny decid­ed to aban­don the deal with Atlantic Bulk Cargo. But this was report­ed only in ear­ly September, when the scan­dal around the car­pet with cash had already gained impres­sive momen­tum and the coun­try’s pros­e­cu­tor’s office began an investigation.

A doctor from Kazakhstan, two chop officers and a Moscow party girl 

Interestingly, ini­tial­ly, the vis­it of the Russians and their pos­si­ble bribery of the President of Guatemala was asso­ci­at­ed with the sup­ply of Sputnik V vac­cines to this coun­try (Russia dis­rupt­ed sup­plies for the pre­paid vol­ume, which made the local Ministry of Health demand 5.8 bil­lion rubles from Moscow). Later it became clear that the vac­cine had noth­ing to do with it: the inter­est of the vis­i­tors was con­nect­ed pre­cise­ly with the min­ing indus­try and logistics.

Elperiodico jour­nal­ists learned the names of sev­er­al mem­bers of that scan­dalous del­e­ga­tion, the meet­ing with which was lat­er con­firmed by the Minister of Economy of Guatemala, Roberto Antonio Malouf Morales, call­ing them rep­re­sen­ta­tives of firms “work­ing in the coun­try for a long time.” However, accord­ing to him , there was no talk of busi­ness and the “busi­ness­men” flew in to “enjoy the beau­ty of our country.”

The names of these busi­ness­men are Sergey Kuvaev , Alesia Pribytkov , Natalya Lyubitskaya , a cit­i­zen of Kazakhstan, Alexander Solop , Alexander Vasyaev (in some pub­li­ca­tions, Vasiliev ), and an Israeli, Julian Shokron . It was these peo­ple, accord­ing to the for­mer head of the anti-cor­rup­tion depart­ment, who brought mon­ey into the coun­try and orga­nized their trans­fer to the President of Guatemala. We were able to iden­ti­fy some of them. It turned out to be a rather mot­ley company.

Passports of the group alleged­ly involved in hand­ing over the bribe to the President of Guatemala

The first two from the list, Sergey Kuvaev and Alexey Pribytkov, are Muscovites. Kuvaev and Pribytkov are employ­ees of the pri­vate secu­ri­ty com­pa­ny Arsenal-99, both work there as a “senior secu­ri­ty guard” with a month­ly salary of 200 thou­sand rubles. Kuvaev is reg­is­tered in Khrushchev in the Moscow region of Severnoye Izmailovo. There is also an apart­ment in Balashikha (103 m² pur­chased in 2013 with a mort­gage) and a small pri­vate house in the same place. The prof­it is also reg­is­tered in Khrushchev, but in Zelenograd near Moscow. Kuvaev and Pribytkov received their for­eign pass­ports on the same day on April 24, 2019.

The founder and gen­er­al direc­tor of PSC Arsenal-99 LLC is Alexander Bogachev . According to leaks from Russian pub­licly avail­able data­bas­es, Bogachev not only ran a pri­vate secu­ri­ty com­pa­ny, but also worked in the secu­ri­ty ser­vice of the Russian branch of the Eurasian Bank, which is part of the Eurasian Group. As a bank employ­ee, he received a sol­id salary — more than 3.5 mil­lion rubles a year. At the same time, the pri­vate secu­ri­ty com­pa­ny record­ed on it showed a min­i­mum prof­it of sev­er­al hun­dred thou­sand rubles.

It is high­ly prob­a­ble that Arsenal-99 is affil­i­at­ed with ERG.

The third mem­ber of the “Russian del­e­ga­tion” is Natalya Lyubitskaya. In pub­licly avail­able data­bas­es, she is men­tioned as the deputy direc­tor of Stroy Consulting LLC (INN 7728214723, founder Boris Erusalimsky ) with a salary, like Kuvaev and Pribytkov, 200 thou­sand rubles. The main activ­i­ty of the com­pa­ny is “Demolition and demo­li­tion of build­ings”. At the end of 2020, Stroy Consulting received a loss of 2.3 mil­lion rubles (against a prof­it of 22 mil­lion rubles in 2019 and 78 mil­lion rubles in 2018). Lyubitskaya was also a co-founder of Advice LLC (in equal shares with a cer­tain Olga Khartsiy), reg­is­tered at the same address as Stroy Consulting LLC. Last year, the unprof­itable Advice LLC was liq­ui­dat­ed. Olga Khartsy worked in sev­er­al oth­er com­pa­nies, among the founders of which was Boris Yerusalimsky and asso­ci­at­ed with var­i­ous con­struc­tion works. All these com­pa­nies exist­ed for a rel­a­tive­ly short time and were liq­ui­dat­ed after receiv­ing sig­nif­i­cant loss­es. We did not man­age to find any obvi­ous con­nec­tion between the Eurasian group and the com­pa­ny where Natalia Lyubitskaya works now. But we found the con­nec­tion with the “group of busi­ness­men” who arrived in Guatemala by exam­in­ing her Instagram , posts in which prove that she real­ly was in Guatemala from April 22 to April 29.

Instagram posts by Natalia Lyubitskaya

True, her role in this group is incom­pre­hen­si­ble. Judging again by her insta­gram, Natalia Lyubitskaya’s main activ­i­ty is trav­el and social events. Although these skills are quite enough for trans­port­ing the cache.

The last mem­ber of the group whom we were able to iden­ti­fy was a cit­i­zen of Kazakhstan, Alexander Solop. Social media also helped us to under­stand his place in the team, name­ly his account on Odnoklassniki. From it we learned that Solop works as a para­medic at the Almaty ambu­lance sta­tion No. 4 and loves to travel.

Alexander Solop at work

Moreover, judg­ing by the pho­tographs, exot­ic coun­tries, where Eurasian Resources Group con­ducts its busi­ness, are of par­tic­u­lar inter­est to him as a traveler.

The map is tak­en from the offi­cial ERG web­site . For sev­er­al years, Solop trav­eled to Brazil, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Belgium (of which Alijan Ibragimov was a citizen). 

The ver­sion of a sim­ple coin­ci­dence is swept aside by anoth­er pho­to of Alexander Solop from Odnoklassniki in front of a pri­vate jet. This Gulfstream G650 with tail num­ber M‑AAAL belongs to Alexander Mashkevich.

Probably, the group or part of it also flew to Guatemala on Mashkevich’s plane, here is the track of his flight on April 26.

Flight of Mashkevich’s jet from Punta Cana to Guatemala 26.04.21. On May 7, Natalia Lyubitskaya will post pho­tos from Punta Cana .

The April flight is not the only time Mashkevich’s plane land­ed in Guatemala. Over the past few months, the M‑AAAL has vis­it­ed this coun­try sev­er­al times, accord­ing to the flight data of its jet.

Flights of Mashkevich’s jet

It fol­lows from the above that at least three of the group sus­pect­ed of brib­ing the President of Guatemala Alejandro Giammattei are direct­ly relat­ed to the Eurasian Resources Group and its inter­ests in this Central American coun­try — these are two body­guards from a secu­ri­ty firm affil­i­at­ed with “Eurasians” ( most like­ly they were respon­si­ble for the force cov­er of the oper­a­tion) and an ambu­lance para­medic from Almaty, trav­el­ing on Mashkevich’s pri­vate plane.

Probably, we will find out the details of this case in the near future: the Guatemalan pros­e­cu­tor’s office opened the case only in ear­ly September and the inves­ti­ga­tion is at an ini­tial stage. But even now we can say that for his main defen­dants, sus­pi­cion of cor­rup­tion and crim­i­nal inci­dents is not some­thing out of the ordi­nary. For exam­ple, President Alejandro Giammattei him­self man­aged to serve time in prison on charges of mass slaugh­ter in a penal colony, which was staged by his sub­or­di­nates when the future head of state was in charge of the state pen­i­ten­tiary sys­tem. The UN Commission, which has stud­ied cor­rup­tion in Guatemala for 12 years, in its final report described a coun­try as a state over­run by a mafia coali­tion of gov­ern­ment, busi­ness and pri­vate indi­vid­u­als who are “will­ing to sac­ri­fice Guatemala’s present and future in order to main­tain the sta­tus quo.”

Finally, the Eurasian Resources Group and its ben­e­fi­cia­ries are con­stant­ly at the cen­ter of cor­rup­tion scan­dals around the world.

In 2013, the UK Financial Fraud Investigation Office (SFO) sus­pect­ed ENRC (for­mer­ly ERG) of fraud, cor­rup­tion and bribery of African pres­i­dents, mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of $ 35 mil­lion and destruc­tion of doc­u­ments in order to inter­fere with the inves­ti­ga­tion. In par­tic­u­lar, it was then about the con­tro­ver­sial pur­chase by ENRC of a cop­per mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 2015, the bod­ies of two man­agers of the Congolese sub­sidiaries of the Eurasian group were found in a hotel in the United States. Litigation con­tin­ues to this day. Including with coun­ter­claims from the com­pa­ny against jour­nal­ists inves­ti­gat­ing its activities.

In May 2015, French secu­ri­ty forces searched Villa Le Petit Rocher Patokha Shodiev locat­ed on the bil­lion­aire penin­su­la (we wroteabout this in one of his texts). The search took place as part of a cor­rup­tion inves­ti­ga­tion at the Elysee Palace. In par­tic­u­lar, Shodiev was sus­pect­ed of brib­ing Nicolas Sarkozy’s asso­ciates for set­tling his issues in Belgium, in which a mon­ey laun­der­ing case was inves­ti­gat­ed against him and his ERG part­ners Alexander Mashkevich and Alidzhan Ibragimov. In ear­ly 2011, the Belgian par­lia­ment amend­ed the crim­i­nal code, which made it pos­si­ble to con­clude trans­ac­tions with the inves­ti­ga­tion and avoid crim­i­nal pun­ish­ment for a cer­tain amount of mon­ey for a num­ber of eco­nom­ic crimes. After fif­teen years of inves­ti­ga­tion, the laun­der­ing case was closed, and the bud­get of Belgium received € 23 mil­lion from the “Eurasian troi­ka”. According to the French and Belgian pros­e­cu­tors, these amend­ments were lob­bied in the inter­ests of Chodiev and his part­ners by the peo­ple of Nicolas Sarkozy.

Original source: TeleType.In