ANTI CORRUPTION

Ex-Tajik Railways Chief’s Czech Bonanza

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Amonullo Hukumov, the for­mer head of Tajik Railways, has told the media that nei­ther he nor his wife own any real estate abroad. But records obtained by OCCRP show that his fam­i­ly has spent over $10.6 mil­lion on lux­u­ry real estate in two of the Czech Republic’s most pop­u­lar tourist des­ti­na­tions. The hefty price tag rais­es ques­tions about the source of the family’s wealth.

Neither scan­dals nor forced retire­ment have slowed down the Hukumov family’s real estate pur­chas­es.

The wife and chil­dren of Amonullo Hukumov, once the pow­er­ful head of Tajik Railways, own six prop­er­ties in Karlovy Vary and Marianske Lazne, Czech resort towns known since the Soviet era as exclu­sive vaca­tion spots for the elite.

Since buy­ing their first prop­er­ty in December 2012, the Hukumovs have spent about US$ 10.6 mil­lion on two hous­es and four oth­er build­ings, includ­ing apart­ment and rental prop­er­ties, accord­ing to sales con­tracts obtained by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP). The family’s only oth­er known for­eign prop­er­ty is a Moscow apart­ment val­ued at $1.1 mil­lion.

Amonullo Hukumov, who head­ed Tajik Railways in 2002–2014. Credit: Radio Ozodi (RFE/RL)

Hukumov, 66, who also goes by the Tajik ver­sion of his fam­i­ly name Hukumatullo, retired from his posi­tion in February 2014, fol­low­ing con­tro­ver­sy sur­round­ing the arrest of one son for traf­fick­ing hero­in and a speed­ing acci­dent involv­ing the sec­ond son that result­ed in the death of oth­ers.

He has denied that he or his wife own prop­er­ties in the Czech Republic, and their abil­i­ty to acquire such impres­sive assets is hard to explain, giv­en Hukumov’s role as a pub­lic offi­cial. According to gov­ern­men­tal sources, state offi­cials gen­er­al­ly do not earn more than 5,000 Somoni ($625) per month.

His wife, Amina Musaeva, 57, owns a com­pa­ny that dis­trib­utes Russian weapons and a con­struc­tion ser­vice com­pa­ny in Dushanbe, Tajikistan’s cap­i­tal, but lit­tle else is known about either of her busi­ness­es.

In June 2016, Hukumov denied that he or his wife own any real estate in Karlovy Vary.

I’m not in the Czech Republic … I’m in Tajikistan”, he said in an inter­view with Radio Ozodi, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Tajik Service.

The build­ing on the hill above the down­town of Karlovy Vary bought by Amonullo Hukumov’s fam­i­ly in 2015. Credit: Pavla Holcova

Hukumov’s Rise

Credit: Edin Pasovic

Hukumov’s polit­i­cal career began in 1995, a few years after President Emomali Rahmon came to pow­er. Hukumov is var­i­ous­ly referred to in Tajik media as either a rel­a­tive of Rahmon, or a fam­i­ly friend or close friend to the President but OCCRP could not con­firm. He became a mem­ber of par­lia­ment and the lat­er head of Naftrason, a state owned oil import com­pa­ny. In 2002, he was appoint­ed head of the Tajik Railways. He received a dis­abil­i­ty pen­sion from the state after his res­ig­na­tion claim­ing he suf­fered from dia­betes.

While the salary of Tajikistani pub­lic offi­cials is not con­sid­ered pub­lic infor­ma­tion, the size of Hukumov’s pen­sion became house­hold gos­sip in the coun­try in ear­ly 2015, when President Rahmon crit­i­cized inflat­ed dis­abil­i­ty pen­sions received by some dis­abled state offi­cials.

As it turned out, Hukumov was receiv­ing some of the high­est pen­sions in the coun­try – 8,400 Tajik Somoni ($1,200) per month, or more than 37 times high­er than the country’s aver­age pen­sion.

During Hukumov’s reign as head of the rail­road, it was well known as a major drug smug­gling con­duit for hero­in trav­el­ling from Afghanistan to Russia accord­ing to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). In 2010 and 2011, more than 500 kilo­grams of hero­in and oth­er opi­ates were been found on trains orig­i­nat­ing in Tajikistan. A num­ber of rail­road employ­ees have been arrest­ed start­ing in the 1990s.

Representatives of the Hukumov fam­i­ly declined to com­ment for this sto­ry.

From Moscow Prison to Czech Luxury

Rasul Amonullo, the youngest son of Amonullo Hukumov. Credit: Radio Ozodi (RFE/RL)

The Hukumov family’s shop­ping spree for Czech prop­er­ty began in December 2012 with the pur­chase of a two-sto­ry house in a res­i­den­tial neigh­bor­hood of Marianske Lazne, a pic­turesque spa city in West Bohemia, sur­round­ed by moun­tain forests, min­er­al springs, and green parks.

His son Rustam bought the house, which includes a pri­vate swim­ming pool, an out­door fire­place, a garage, a gar­den house, and a large back­yard for €440,000 ($572,000).

No one was home when reporters vis­it­ed the house this past sum­mer. There was no name on the door­bell or mail­box, no car parked out­side, and the venet­ian blinds were shut. But the lawn was fresh­ly cut and the ros­es well-tend­ed.

Living in a lux­u­ri­ous home in a Bohemian spa town would have been a stark con­trast for Rustam from his pre­vi­ous year which he served in a high secu­ri­ty prison in Russia for the ille­gal sale of drugs.

Rustam was arrest­ed with three oth­ers in June 2008 and charged with attempt­ing to sell 9.3 kilo­grams of hero­in in Moscow. Two years lat­er, he was sen­tenced to nine years and six months in prison and fined 250,000 rubles (almost $8,100 at the time).

Rustam was found guilty of being one of two orga­niz­ers of a crim­i­nal group. The court found that he had pro­vid­ed the group with mobile com­mu­ni­ca­tions and trans­porta­tion.

A high­er court con­firmed his ver­dict in December 2010. But a year lat­er, the ver­dict was unex­pect­ed­ly reversed and he was set free. According to RosPravosudiye, the Russian reg­istry of court cas­es, the cas­es against his accom­plices were not recon­sid­ered.

Hukumov’s acquit­tal mir­rored a sim­i­lar deci­sion made in Tajikistan at around the same time. One month pri­or, a Tajikistani court freed a Russian and Estonian pilot who had been sen­tenced to eight-and-a-half-years in prison for smug­gling and ille­gal­ly enter­ing the coun­try. Tajikistani and Russian media spec­u­lat­ed that the two coun­tries had trad­ed the crim­i­nals, though the Russian Foreign Ministry denied any links between the two cas­es.

The Hukumov’s house in Marianske Lazne was not the first prop­er­ty the fam­i­ly bought abroad. Two years before Rustam’s arrest in Russia, in May 2006, they bought a 100-square-meter apart­ment in a new build­ing near a mas­sive Soviet-built exhi­bi­tion cen­ter in north­ern Moscow. Rustam was reg­is­tered as the own­er.

In December 2009, a year and a half after his arrest, Rustam sold the apart­ment, worth 34 mil­lion rubles ($1.1 mil­lion at the time) to his sis­ter Zarrina.

The family’s main house in the Czech Republic sits in a large gar­den in Olsova Vrata, a dis­trict on the out­skirts of the spa town of Karlovy Vary. The house is locat­ed near an air­port with sched­uled flights to Moscow. A stat­ue of Yuri Gagarin, a Russian cos­mo­naut and the first man in space, greets vis­i­tors in the park­ing lot.

The main house of Amonullo Hukumov’s fam­i­ly locat­ed in the out­skirts of Karlovy Vary bought by Amina Musaeva in 2013 for $1.1 mil­lion. Credit:Pavla Holcova

The house was bought by Hukumov’s wife Amina in April 2013 for $1.1 mil­lion. It came ful­ly equipped with antique fur­ni­ture, gold framed paint­ings, a porce­lain stat­ue, cur­tains brought from Italy and sur­veil­lance cam­eras.

When OCCRP reporters vis­it­ed the prop­er­ty, it was not being use, and the mail­box was full of adver­tise­ments.

Neighbor said the fam­i­ly is not per­ma­nent­ly liv­ing here. “I bare­ly know them, I am not even sure, what is their name. I only have their phone num­ber for cas­es some­thing would hap­pen.”

Rasul Amonullo, the youngest son of Amonullo Hukumov. Credit: Radio Ozodi (RFE/RL)

Amina bought the house at a what was like­ly a stress­ful time in her life.

In October 2013, her son Rasul, who was 16 at the time, caused a car acci­dent in Dushanbe while dri­ving his BMW with­out a driver’s license, which left three peo­ple dead and three injured. The police ini­tial­ly claimed that he had been speed­ing and had caused the acci­dent. Nine months lat­er, how­ev­er, the police changed their mind, say­ing that, after con­duct­ing sev­en expert exam­i­na­tions of the acci­dent, they had found Rasul inno­cent.

Instead, his par­ents were charged with a “lack of respon­si­bil­i­ty in upbring­ing and teach­ing of chil­dren.” The moth­er was ulti­mate­ly found guilty of neg­li­gence in ful­fill­ment of her duties of rais­ing under­age chil­dren for let­ting her son out­side the home at night and unchap­er­oned at 2:30 am, when the acci­dent took place. The court in Dushanbe found her guilty and fined her 120 Tajik Somoni ($25 at the time).

Millions in Retirement

Not long after Amonullo Hukumov’s retire­ment from the rail­road fol­low­ing his sons’ scan­dals, the fam­i­ly bought a his­tor­i­cal build­ing locat­ed direct­ly in the heart of the world-famous spa town of Karlovy Vary, on the icon­ic Hot Spring Colonnade on the banks of the riv­er Tepla.

The Colonnade, one of five in the city, is a famous tourist attrac­tion where hun­dreds of vis­i­tors come dai­ly to enjoy the alleged cura­tive ben­e­fits of the 15 min­er­al springs Karlovy Vary is well known for.

His wife Amina bought the build­ing in May 2014 for 88 mil­lion CZK ($4.4 mil­lion).

The five-sto­ry build­ing with 10 apart­ments is rent­ed by the EA Hotel Esplanade, a hotel oper­at­ed by the EuroAgentur Hotels & Travel, which claims to be the Czech Republic’s largest hotel com­pa­ny.

The Hukumov fam­i­ly also bought anoth­er build­ing on the slope above the cen­ter of Karlovy Vary in May 2015 for 4.5 mil­lion CZK ($184,000).

The build­ing was ren­o­vat­ed and fea­tures a bright yel­low facade, new­ly paint­ed win­dows and walls.

Almost two years ago, the Hukumov fam­i­ly bought two addi­tion­al prop­er­ties in Karlovy Vary. In March 2016, Amina bought two build­ings in the busi­ness dis­trict of Karlovy Vary for €4 mil­lion (at the time $4.3 mil­lion). The two ornate five-sto­ry build­ings were built in a neo­clas­sic style and dec­o­rat­ed with flo­ral reliefs, bal­conies and columns.

Two decades ago, one of the build­ings was used as a bank, accord­ing to the recep­tion­ist. These days, the offices are rent­ed to attor­neys, a fur­ni­ture shop, a plas­tic surgery clin­ic, and a fer­til­i­ty clin­ic with its own oper­at­ing the­aters and inpa­tient depart­ment.

In July of 2016, Amina gave the build­ing to her daugh­ter Zarrina, but with a clause that read: “The recip­i­ent is aware of the fact that the donor can appeal (the dona­tion) in case of need or in case of ingrat­i­tude.”

Zarrina Musaeva, Amonullo Hukumov’s daugh­ter. Credit: ok.ru

In June 2013, Hukumov’s wife Amina estab­lished a real estate busi­ness in the Czech Republic. Originally, it was called MUS.AMINA and lat­er renamed to Goldpari s.r.o.

Since its estab­lish­ment, the com­pa­ny has seemed to have been used to buy three cars – a SUV Skoda Yeti for $19,000, a Ford Raptor for $32,000 and a Bentley for $116,000. The annu­al report for 2016 shows that Amina loaned 15.5 mil­lion CZK ($600,000) to the com­pa­ny. In 2014, she trans­ferred 50 per­cent of the com­pa­ny to her daugh­ter Zarrina.

It is not known how much the fam­i­ly is now earn­ing from the rent on their prop­er­ties.

By Pavla Holcova, Vlad Lavrov and OCCRP Tajikistan

Additional report­ing by Olesya Shmagun.

Ex-Tajik Railways Chief’s Czech Bonanza

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