Golden girl. Who is and what does Anna Berezina look like, who owns a significant share of the Kazakhstani economy

Google trans­lat­ed

Pervomaisky dis­trict of Izhevsk, almost the cen­ter of the cap­i­tal of Udmurtia. Late Stalinist devel­op­ment of five- and four-sto­ry hous­es, typ­i­cal for hun­dreds of Russian cities. Udmurtia is a sub­si­dized and poor region, so even in the cen­ter of the house they look quite neglect­ed. Falling plas­ter, chaot­ic adver­tise­ments on the facades, bro­ken side­walks, and the first floors have been con­vert­ed into eclec­tic com­mer­cial spaces designed in the style of “the worst urban­ist’s dream”.

House on Kommunarov Street in Izhevsk, where Anna Berezina is reg­is­tered. Source: Google Street View

In gen­er­al, noth­ing unusu­al, with the excep­tion of one — an unusu­al girl is reg­is­tered in one of the apart­ments in build­ing 201 on Kommunarov Street. By the age of 30, she became the own­er of a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar for­tune and the con­trol­ling share­hold­er of sev­er­al Kazakhstani min­ing com­pa­nies. The girl’s name is Anna Berezina, and today our sto­ry is about her.

Director. Black gold

The ear­li­est traces of Anna Berezina’s pres­ence in Kazakhstan’s busi­ness that we were able to find in the pub­lic domain are the girl’s sig­na­ture in the doc­u­ment on the approval of the board of direc­tors of Aman Munai Exploration JSC .

In 2013, she signed it as the direc­tor of the par­ent Aman Munai Exploration BV (the com­pa­ny was found­ed under the name Kazakhmys Petroleum BV ), she also became the head of this struc­ture in 2013. At that time, she was bare­ly 25 years old, and a busi­ness struc­ture with a cap­i­tal of € 342.9 mil­lion was under the man­age­ment of a young Russian woman (the cap­i­tal has not changed since the cre­ation of the legal enti­ty in 2007).

Aman Munai Exploration is a Kazakhstani com­pa­ny engaged in the explo­ration and pro­duc­tion of oil in the Aktobe region on the East Akzhar block with an area of ​​500 km². 

Judging by the audit reports, the Dutch com­pa­ny head­ed by Berezina was not the ulti­mate ben­e­fi­cia­ry. The con­trol­ling par­ty was the Maltese invest­ment fund Falcon NR&I Fund SICAV PLC , which owned the Dutch com­pa­ny through the Belgian struc­ture Aman Munai Exploration BVBA .

It is dif­fi­cult to doc­u­ment who was the ulti­mate ben­e­fi­cia­ry at that time, even though the Maltese fund, which owned the oil field in the Aktobe region, was spot­ted in the PanamaLeaks leak.

Most like­ly, the final own­er can be con­sid­ered the bil­lion­aire and offi­cial­ly the rich­est Kazakhstani Vladimir Kim or peo­ple close to him. This may be evi­denced by the fact that ini­tial­ly the Dutch com­pa­ny bore the name Kazakhmys Petroleum BV, con­so­nant with Kim’s main asset.

Probably, last year Vladimir Kim decid­ed to take new part­ners into the oil busi­ness. In June 2020, Aman Munai Exploration BV left the com­pa­ny’s share­hold­ers (Anna Berezina was no longer its direc­tor at that time), and Aman Munai Exploration changed its name to Altai Resources JSC .

Syntech FZE, reg­is­tered in the spe­cial eco­nom­ic zone of Sharjah, has become a new share­hold­er . The ulti­mate ben­e­fi­cia­ry in Altai Resources’ reports is the Singaporean firm Mahesh S / O Pulandaran , con­trolled by the Maltese off­shore Advaita Trade Private Limited .

Judging by the base of the same “heav­en­ly doc­u­ments”, the key per­son in the com­pa­ny from Malta is Boris Nikolayenko from Almaty . This is the full name­sake of the for­mer top man­ag­er of the Kazakh office of Kazakhmys PLC . At the same time , new faces appeared in the lat­est report on the affil­i­ates with Altai Resources JSC — the for­mer son-in-law of the first pres­i­dent of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, Leonid (Alexei) Dyachenko and his fam­i­ly. Leonid Dyachenko was the sec­ond hus­band of Yeltsin’s daugh­ter Tatyana; the cou­ple lived in mar­riage from 1990 to 2002.

Kazakhstan oil­man Leonid Dyachenko sur­round­ed by his for­mer family 

Dyachenko is quite famil­iar with the oil sec­tor. For some time he head­ed and par­tial­ly owned the Urals Energy com­pa­ny reg­is­tered in Cyprus , which was pro­duc­ing oil in Russia — on Sakhalin and in the Timan-Pechora basin in Komi. The com­pa­ny arose in the late eight­ies with the sanc­tion of the head of the first main direc­torate of the KGB of the USSR (for­eign intel­li­gence) Leonid Shebarshin as a cov­er for study­ing shad­ow export chan­nels, in 1990 set off on an inde­pen­dent com­mer­cial voy­age and went first to the for­mer intel­li­gence offi­cers and son-in-law of Boris Yeltsin — Leonid Dyachenko, and then Sberbank for debts.

It was bought from the bank by the Khotin fam­i­ly of busi­ness­men, and it became the basis of their oil com­pa­ny Dulisma. In 2019, Alexei Khotin, who was doing busi­ness with his father Yuri, was detained by the FSB and the Ministry of Internal Affairs on sus­pi­cion of embez­zling 7.5 bil­lion rubles from his own bank, Yugra.

Shareholder. Brown gold

Anna Berezina’s depar­ture from the post of direc­tor of the Dutch Aman Munai Exploration BV can hard­ly be called a dis­missal; rather, it is a tran­si­tion to a new qual­i­ty. In 2016, the girl becomes the sole own­er of the Dutch com­pa­ny Karazhyra Holdings BV with a share cap­i­tal of € 100. Soon this com­pa­ny gets 49.9% in Karazhyra JSC .

The Kazakhstani com­pa­ny was not orig­i­nal­ly a joint stock com­pa­ny: in December 2002, the struc­ture was reg­is­tered as Karazhyra LTD LLP and received at its dis­pos­al a coal deposit of the same name on the ter­ri­to­ry of the for­mer Semipalatinsk nuclear test site.

Only in 2016, the com­pa­ny re-reg­is­tered as a joint-stock com­pa­ny with the fol­low­ing dis­tri­b­u­tion of shares: American Demex LLC received 80% in it, dol­lar mil­lion­aires Vladimir Dzhumanbaev and Eduard Ogay — 10% each .

A year lat­er, the share of the American part­ner was divid­ed. Anna Berezina’s Karazhyra Holdings BV gained con­trol of almost half of the com­pa­ny, Dzhumabaev and Ogay increased their shares to 20%, and the new share­hold­er Yerlan Nigmatullin , for­mer sen­a­tor and broth­er of Majilis chair­man (then and now) Nurlan Nigmatullin , got 10%.

In 2017, the com­pa­ny received a net prof­it of 2.8 bil­lion tenge, and a year lat­er it almost dou­bled — to 5.1 bil­lion tenge. Apparently, thanks to these funds, the cap­i­tal of Karazhyra Holdings BV increased in 2018 from € 100 to € 2.2 million.

In February 2020, Anna Berezina’s com­pa­ny trans­ferred 49.9% of its shares to the chil­dren of Eduard Ogay, Elina and Vladimir . At that time, the mar­ket cap­i­tal­iza­tion of the com­pa­ny on the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange was esti­mat­ed at about 13.5 bil­lion tenge or $ 32 mil­lion. Formally, by that time, Berezina’s share was slight­ly more than $ 15 million.

Beneficiary. Gold

Anna Berezina’s exit from the coal busi­ness did not end her career as a Kazakhstani mil­lion­aire. Now its most valu­able asset is the gold min­ing JSC AK Altynalmas . And this is already a real­ly seri­ous busi­ness with a cap­i­tal­iza­tion of $ 362 mil­lion, in which Berezina owns 59.97%.

Kazakhstan, accord­ing to the World Gold Council, ranks 15th in the world in terms of pre­cious met­al pro­duc­tion. Last year, 78.5 tons of gold were extract­ed in the repub­lic — the third place after Russia and Uzbekistan in the post-Soviet space. The author­i­ties of the repub­lic report­ed about 111.5 tons of gold, but, appar­ent­ly, the vol­umes of the already refined met­al were also includ­ed here.

Be that as it may, over 10 years the vol­ume of extrac­tion of pre­cious met­als in Kazakhstan has grown, again accord­ing to the World Gold Council, 2.5 times — from 29.9 tons to 78.5 tons.

As Kazakhstani Forbes wrote in its review, due to the dif­fi­cul­ties asso­ci­at­ed with gold min­ing in the repub­lic at the first stages after Kazakhstan gained inde­pen­dence and the begin­ning of the pri­va­ti­za­tion of gold-bear­ing areas, inter­est in them was main­ly shown by large for­eign players.

Control over the largest in the repub­lic Vasilkovskoye field (reserves — more than 360 tons) in 2000 went to the Dutch Floodgate Holding BV , behind which were Israeli busi­ness­men Lev Leviev and a native of Ukraine Arkady Gaidamak. In Kazakhstan, they are known for their chem­i­cal projects, and in the rest of the world for their arms trade. In 2009, a French court sen­tenced Gaidamak to 6 years in prison in absen­tia for ille­gal dia­mond trade. In Kazakhstan, part­ners tried to mod­ern­ize Vasilkovsky GOK (VGOK), but could nei­ther find fund­ing nor orga­nize the work. Five years lat­er, they scrapped their projects in Kazakhstan.

Now this field is being devel­oped by Kazzinc LLP , a joint ven­ture between the Swiss Glencore (69.74%) and a sub­sidiary of the state fund Samruk-Kazyna Tau-Ken Samruk (29.82%).

Two years ago, a scan­dal erupt­ed in the Swiss press , the cen­tral plot of which was the sus­pi­cion that Glencore trans­ferred its stake in the elite Haileybury Astana school to Bulat Utemuratov’s char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion worth $ 23 mil­lion. This mon­ey was then sim­ply writ­ten off the com­pa­ny’s bal­ance sheet. Journalists sug­gest­ed that the funds could be used for the pro­vi­sion of some lob­by­ing ser­vices by Utemuratov, who, like Vladimir Kim, is con­sid­ered to be in the inner cir­cle of the first pres­i­dent of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Last year, Kazzinc pro­duced 18.7 tons of gold, almost a quar­ter of the total in the country.

Approximately 16 tons of gold fell to the share of a sub­sidiary of the Russian min­ing com­pa­ny Polymetal of bil­lion­aires Alexander Nesis and Alexander Mamut .

Another major play­er in the mar­ket and one of the first on it is JSC AK Altynalmas. In 2020, the com­pa­ny mined 12.9 tons of gold. And tak­ing into account the acquired last year anoth­er old­est gold min­ing enter­prise JSC Kazakhaltyn (3.9 tons), the total vol­ume of gold mined by the group can be esti­mat­ed at 16.8 tons.

Dutch com­pa­ny Gouden Reserves BV is the key share­hold­er of JSC AK Altynalmas with a 59.97% stake. The ulti­mate ben­e­fi­cia­ry of this com­pa­ny, through an intri­cate sys­tem of gas­ket firms in the Netherlands and Singapore, is also Anna Berezina .

At the end of last year, the com­pa­ny received 63.2 bil­lion tenge of net prof­it or $ 148 mil­lion — almost five times more than the val­ue of the entire Karazhyr coal com­pa­ny. Other share­hold­ers of Altynalmas are Vladimir Dzhumanbaev(21.99%), President and CEO of this joint-stock com­pa­ny Diyar Kanashev (9.50%) and a cit­i­zen of the Republic of South Africa Igor Vetiul (5.5%).

Emigrant share 

So who is this real­ly Anna Berezina, who clos­es assets in Kazakhstan for sev­er­al hun­dred mil­lion dollars? 

The same doc­u­ment that she signed in 2013 as direc­tor of Aman Munai Exploration BV gives us some hint. From it, we, in par­tic­u­lar, learn that “a cit­i­zen of the Netherlands Anna Berezina” was born in Soviet Izhevsk on July 27, 1988. 

Since it is not for­bid­den to have a sec­ond cit­i­zen­ship in Russia and the Netherlands, we assumed that she could have kept her Russian pass­port. And indeed it is. In July last year, Anna Berezina received a new for­eign pass­port at the Russian con­sulate in The Hague. We got access to this doc­u­ment, which, among oth­er things, con­tains data on all pre­vi­ous­ly issued pass­ports to her.

It fol­lows from it that Anna Berezina is still assigned in Izhevsk in a house on Kommunarov Street, 201. Although it is obvi­ous that in the mid­dle or since the end of the 90s she does not live there (Anna received her first for­eign pass­port in 1995, when she was 7 years). She last renewed her gen­er­al civ­il (inter­nal pass­port) in 2011, when she turned 23. To do this, she had to return to her home­land and receive a doc­u­ment at the place of her reg­is­tra­tion in Izhevsk.

Anna Berezina before and after she became the nom­i­nal own­er of a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar fortune 

But the most inter­est­ing thing here is not Anna’s pho­to­graph, but infor­ma­tion about her par­ents. And if we could not find infor­ma­tion about her father in the pub­lic domain (he is the full name­sake of the Petersburg busi­ness­man Andrei Valerievich Berezin), then her moth­er turned out to be a well-known per­son in the Kazakhstani busi­ness community.

Anna’s par­ents: Andrey Berezin and Elena Yakubovskaya. Photo from Andrey Berezin ‘s account in Odnoklassniki

Elena Yaroslavna Yakubovskaya is list­ed as the head of dozens of firms asso­ci­at­ed main­ly with the busi­ness of Vladimir Kim and Eduard Ogay. It was pre­vi­ous­ly impos­si­ble to trace her rela­tion­ship with Anna Berezina in the reports of Kazakhstani com­pa­nies, since Kazakhstani leg­is­la­tion does not require the indi­ca­tion of close rel­a­tives of non-res­i­dents in the lists of affil­i­at­ed persons.

Elena Yakubovskaya has worked and con­tin­ues to work as a direc­tor in:

  • Dutch Financial Services BV (Kim and Oh), Aman Munai Exploration BV (Anna Berezina), Petroleum Partners BV (Kim), Cooper International BV (linked to Altynalmas), Kerem Equipment BV (linked to Karyzhara), Global Service Technology BV (liq­ui­dat­ed ), Vostok Cooper BV (Kim and Novachuk),
  • British Kazakhmys Corporation Finance Limited (Kim and Ohio), Kazakhmys Smelting Finance Limited (Kim and Ohio), Kazakhmys Limited (Kim and Ohio).

Most like­ly, it was Elena Yakubovskaya who brought her daugh­ter into this busi­ness, reg­is­ter­ing for her shell com­pa­nies for busi­ness­men from the Kazakhstan Forbes list.

Why do busi­ness­men need it? For exam­ple, in order to pro­tect part of their assets in European juris­dic­tions and gain access to arbi­tra­tion out­side the con­trol of the Kazakh author­i­ties. “Their” for­eign par­ent com­pa­nies and large share­hold­ers the­o­ret­i­cal­ly have access to cheap­er loans. Thus, Altynalmas bor­rowed mon­ey for the pur­chase of Kazakhaltyn from the European struc­tures of the Russian VTB . The total debt of JSC “Altynalmas” to the “daugh­ters” of the bank, which is con­trolled by the Russian gov­ern­ment, is € 1.1 bil­lion with a rate of 6–7% per annum. Another ques­tion is whether they could get that kind of mon­ey from HSBC or Deutsche Bank.

Again, through these com­pa­nies it is eas­i­er to with­draw and legal­ize funds abroad, for­mal­iz­ing it as issu­ing loans to unre­lat­ed parties.

Finally, these denom­i­na­tions may sim­ply be the hold­ers of the part of the busi­ness that is actu­al­ly owed to oth­er peo­ple or to some one, but very impor­tant person.

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