Russian companies sanctioned over Ukraine linked to Ireland – media

15:10, 27 March 2018
Economy
506 0
REUTERS

The fund operations remain legal despite European Union and U.S. sanctions, although their ability to provide services to their Russia counterparts may have been hit by the introduction of sanctions, The Irish Times said.

Some of the Russian companies concerned are very close to the Kremlin and the Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The Irish companies tend to have few if any employees despite the enormous transactions they are involved with, and usually pay very little in tax.

However, they contribute to the Irish economy by way of the fees paid for the provision of professional services.

A recent study from Trinity College Dublin estimated that 125 Russian-linked companies have raised EUR 103 billion through Irish funds operations since 2007.

One of the major operations based in Ireland is that of Rosneft International Finance. Based in the East Point Business Park, Dublin 3, it is a subsidiary of the massive Rosneft oil company, which is itself the subject of the EU and U.S. sanctions.

Rosneft chief executive Igor Sechin is considered one of Putin's closest allies and is on the U.S. sanctions list.

Rosneft's assets include assets that used to belong to Yukos, the since broken-up oil and gas conglomerate whose former owner, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was at one stage Russia's richest oligarch. He fell foul of Putin's regime and was jailed for a number of years before being released after lobbying by the German government.

Loan-note programme

Rosneft's Irish arm initiated a $10 billion loan-note programme in December 2012 but only $3 billion of that has since been issued as loans. The latest accounts for the company state that the events in Ukraine continue to have a negative impact on the Russian economy, but the sanctions imposed on the company's parent have not had an impact on its ability to service its debts to the company.

The company is administered by Deutsche International Corporate Services (Ireland), and makes use of AIB and the Bank of Ireland, Arthur Cox solicitors and auditing firm EY. The latest accounts show the company spent $21,059 on administration fees and $20,503 on audit fees in 2016.

An Irish subsidiary of Rosneft International Finance called Trumpet Ltd, with a registered office on Bride Street, Dublin 8, is involved in oil trading and had a turnover in 2015 of $1.93 billion, according to its latest accounts. It had no employees, produced a profit of $6.2 million and paid tax of $1.5 million.

Another Irish company, VEB Finance, with an address at Park Lane, Dublin 1, is associated with a sanctions-hit Russian bank which is said to be used by the Russian government for politically important projects abroad.

Vnesheconombank (VEB), which translates as Bank of Foreign Economic Activity, has featured in U.S. coverage of links between the Kremlin and U.S. president Donald Trump.

Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner met VEB's chairman in New York in December 2016, after the presidential election but prior to Trump's inauguration.

Read alsoNBU prolongs sanctions against Russian banks' subsidiaries in Ukraine

Last year, it was reported that the Russian bank was linked to money invested in the Trump International Hotel in Toronto, Canada, by a Russian Canadian developer, Alexander Shhnaider, who was a partner in the development.

The VEB chairman, Sergey Gorkov, who is a graduate of Russia's secret-service academy, was appointed to his position by Putin.

State-owned Russian banking giant Sberbank, which is also the subject of EU and U.S. sanctions, has an Irish subsidiary, SB Leasing Ireland Ltd, with an address at Grant's Row, Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2. The company is involved in the purchase and leasing of aircraft, using funds borrowed from Sberbank.

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