Ex-Tajik Railways Chief’s Czech Bonanza

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