Operators of cargo terminal raise questions
BY DMYTRO GNAP and ANNA BABINETS
While the real owners of the Euroterminal can’t be proven, the people who manage the terminal have a number of controversial connections that raise serious questions about the operation. It is unclear why would the president of Ukraine push for the creation of the terminal only to let it be run by people with alleged ties to criminal activities.
The management is run by two brothers Pavel and Serhiy Lisitsin, Russian citizens, who serve as president and director, respectively of Euroterminal.
Pavel Lisitsin was also director of Sintez U.K. Ltd., part of the well-known Sintez group, which in the 1990s traded oil and gasoline in the former Soviet Union.
One of Pavel Lisitsin’s partners at Sintez is Aleksander Zhukov. Zhukov’s daughter, Dasha, is the girlfriend of billionaire Russian businessman Roman Abramovich.
In 2001, Zhukov was detained in Italy on suspicion of trading in illegal weapons. Later, an Italian court acquitted him of smuggling because the smuggling happened offshore and was outside of Italy’s jurisdiction.
The third partner of Pavel Lisitsin and Zhukov in Sintez group is Leonid Lebedev, a member of Russia’s upper chamber of parliament and a prominent businessman. Pavel Lisitsin and Lebedev were co-directors in British company Transcargo Ltd., which has since ceased its activities. The director of Transcargo from 1996 to 2000 was the controversial Alexander Angert, an Israeli citizen born in 1955.
Angert, a well-known figure in Odesa, is nicknamed “The Angel,” according to police and media reports dating from the 1990s. Media reports say that in 1980 Angert was sentenced to 15 years of jail for premeditated murder but was released after 12 years.
An Italian police file lists Angert and Zhukov – the latter being Pavel Lisitsin’s and Lebedev’s partner in Sintez – as members of the “Odesa Oil Mafia.”
However, very little information can be verified about Angert through official sources. Neither the Interior Ministry nor the State Penitentiary Service of Ukraine, an agency that oversees the country’s prisons, responded to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project’s repeated requests for information regarding Angert’s alleged convictions and jail sentences.
However, The Guardian on July 9, 2001 in an article described Angert as a “notoriously violent Odesa godfather who now lives in London. Angert helped run the (Odesa) port’s lucrative oil business and extortion rackets ...”
The Guardian also quoted Odesa’s police chief, Vladimir Zhurakovsky, at the time saying, “Angert was in control (of the Odesa port). The politicians depended on him.”
Angert is listed in an old version of the Ukrainian White Book, a list of persons the Ukrainian police considered crime figures although often without solid evidence. The news reports were partially confirmed by Alla Korystovska, who worked for 25 years as an Odesa police investigator.
“In Odesa they say that Angert is currently watching over all the business activities in the city. The information about his past is hidden,” said Korystovska, who runs a nongovernmental organization Ruthenia-Odesa that advocates for human rights and maintains regular contact with local law enforcement.
Finally, a report titled Ukrainian Organized Crime compiled by Italian police in October 1998, obtained by reporters from Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, refers to Angert and Zhukov as members of organized crime group “Odesa Oil Mafia.” Its sphere of interest, according to the Italians, is international drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering and extortion. It is not clear on what sources the Italian report is based.
According to the Italian report, along with Angert and Zhukov, this group was run by Leonid Minin, a weapons trader.
Another person mentioned in the Italian file in Gennady Trukhanov, now the head of the regional faction of the pro-government Party of Regions. In October of last year, Trukhanov was elected to the Ukrainian parliament in a local single-mandate district with more than 60 percent of the vote. He admitted to being Angert’s friend in an interview with Vlast Deneg weekly in September 2011, adding that one of his firms provided security services for Angert. The article noted that whenever Angert comes to Ukraine, “his friend Trukhanov” always meets him at the airport.
The Italian police report says Trukhanov operated out of Rome and Belgium and was considered by Belgian police to be Minin’s bodyguard. German police confirmed that this is the same person.
Nowadays, however, Trukhanov is more interested in the construction business. His group of companies Rost has received multimillion dollar state procurement contracts for road construction and infrastructure developments in Odesa and Kyiv.
His public relations service wouldn’t comment on the information contained in the Italian police report. “All the information regarding activities of Gennadiy Leonidovich [Trukhanov] could be found on his personal website and on the website of Odesa branch of Party of Regions,” the service said.