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SG Group

Czech Republic

SG Group, an exporter/importer focused on Central Asia, Russia, and Belarus, received a total of $5,652,143 from Laundromat companies Alaro Business, Caldon Holdings Ltd., and Drayscott Overseas over several months in early 2014. The purpose of the transactions was listed as “building equipment.” According to the Czech business registry, the company’s current and previous managing directors, as well as its shareholders, appear to be of Russian origin.

At the end of 2014, SG Group was sold to Data Business Ltd., a UK shell company based in London and registered at the same address as hundreds of other companies. One month later, SG Group was forced by creditors to enter insolvency proceedings. (Data Business never did any real-world business and was dissolved in 2016).

The beginning of the insolvency proceedings of SG Group coincides with the end of the Russian Laundromat scheme. Its new Russian managing director, Vladimir Sokolovskiy, shows all the signs of being a proxy, according to insolvency procedure manager Jana Fialova.

“I went to the location of the former headquarters of the company,” she says. “Everyone was acting as if they had never heard of that company before. It is truly strange after 10 years of active business.

“It seems like someone had given them advice not to mention the company at all,” she adds.

The main focus of SG Group’s business was truck transport, mostly to Russia and other post-Soviet countries. In 2013, the company opened a truck center close to Karlovy Vary. When Jana Fialova came to the center to work on the insolvency proceedings, she found that it had been ransacked. “They even cut off and took away the heating elements, as they did with the accounting books,” she says.

A similar opinion can be found on kamionaci.cz, a truck drivers’ forum. A user with the user-name “Petr-Miki” complained that SG Group had suddenly stopped communicating with its employees. “I was driving for them, and they still owe me about 60,000 Czech koruna (about $2,000),” he wrote. “First, [working for them] was OK and good money, but later, as if by a magic wand, they returned 30 [trucks] to the leasing company and left us home. … The owners are Russians and no one can reach them,” he writes.

Apart from a plot of land, SG Group left a debt of 23 million Czech koruna (about $1 million), which it owed to the European Russian Bank (ERB) in Prague. The company obtained this loan by offering two fraudulent loans from two North American shell companies - NAI North American Industrial S.A. in Canada and TSConcept LLC. in Oregon - as collateral. This analysis was confirmed both by the ERB and by Fialova, SG Group’s insolvency manager. ERB lost its banking license last year after its involvement in laundering money for organized crime was revealed.