NEW: Ukraine’s top pro-Kremlin politician, Viktor Medvedchuk, and his business partner paid just $40,000 to secure a stake in a Russian energy firm.

It has since paid them tens of millions of dollars in dividends.

OCCRP and @cxemu investigate👇 1/…
This bargain sale, done via companies in Cyprus, was finalized on the same day in 2014 that dozens of gunmen in unmarked military fatigues, known as "little green men," stormed the Crimean parliament.

Both events have helped Russia assert influence in Ukraine. 2/
Medvedchuk and his business partner, Taras Kozak, were recently sanctioned by Ukraine’s government for allegedly financing terrorism. Three news channels under their control have been taken off the air. 3/
The deal gave companies linked to the two Ukrainians access to profits from an oil refinery in southern Russia, which had been built several years before for roughly $500 million by Russian billionaire Sergey Kislov. The men have since upped their stake in the company to 93%. 4/

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More from @OCCRP

24 Mar
NEW: A former CIA director and a Trump fundraiser arrived in Turkey in 2018 to help an imprisoned pastor.

What they didn't know was that their host, a businessman linked to Turkey’s president, was entangled in a half-billion-dollar fraud case. 1/…
OCCRP and @LawCrimeNews have reconstructed the backchannel trip, which saw former spy chief James Woolsey and current Republican National Committee co-chair Tommy Hicks Jr. attempt to secure the release of Pastor Andrew Brunson. 2/
Their Turkish host was Sezgin Baran Korkmaz, a businessman implicated in a fraud case involving a Mormon fundamentalist sect, Armenian-American organized crime, and the theft of half a billion dollars from the U.S. government. 3/
Read 5 tweets
12 Mar
NEW: It’s been widely reported that the Estonian branch of Danske Bank let billions in suspicious money move through its accounts.

Now, a previously unseen report obtained by @berlingske provides stunning new details on how this looked in practice. 1/…
The report, produced by Estonian regulators in 2014, reads like a "how-to" of money laundering.

It lists technique after technique the bank’s shady foreign clients used to move large sums.

It also makes clear that the bank had little interest in questioning its clients. 2/
For example, the bank’s "relationship managers" accepted documentation from clients written in Azerbaijani, though no one on the team spoke the language.

(The bank said that one of its employees used Google Translate). 3/
Read 11 tweets
12 Mar
ANNOUNCEMENT: OCCRP is being sued by Stanko Subotić, a powerful Serbian businessman whom we've written about in several investigations.

We stand by our reporting and will not be intimidated by vexatious lawsuits.…
OCCRP Publisher @DrewOCCRP and @KRIK journalist @DraganaPeco are also named in this suit, which is over this story from 2018. 2/…
Subotić alleges OCCRP and KRIK published the story as part of a media campaign against him orchestrated by the Serbian secret service, the mafia, and corrupt politicians.

"Mr. Subotić has no evidence of these demonstrably false claims," said Sullivan. 3/
Read 7 tweets
11 Mar
NEW: A Miami mansion, ties to Italian crime figures, and a bar shootout.

Meet Artur Shehu: An Albanian businessman who has been accused of building a property empire of stolen land in Albania.

Our investigation with @MiamiHerald: 1/…
Shehu, who offered OCCRP’s reporter "whatever you want" in exchange for dropping the story, is accused of stealing land meant to be returned to Albanians after the collapse of its communist government.

Italian police have linked him to drug trafficking and money laundering. 2/
A former special forces soldier, Shehu allegedly prospered in drug trafficking.

But his time in Albania ended in 1999 after his uncle was gunned down at Shehu’s bar, dying in his arms. 3/
Read 6 tweets
10 Mar
NEW: Two Belarusian businessmen with ties to the regime of dictator Alexander Lukashenko have sprawling business empires that, we reveal, extend to Lithuania.

OCCRP, @Sienalt, and @Belsat_TV investigate their business activity in this EU member state. 1/…
2/ Alexei Aleksin and Alexander Zaytsev are a new breed of Belarusian businessmen: relatively young, global in outlook, and free from EU sanctions.

The pair emerged just as Belarus’s previous generation of oligarchs were sanctioned.
3/ When Aleksin decided to launch his own cigarette factory, Lukashenko personally redrew the borders of the Belarusian capital to ensure it would be located outside the city, and therefore less encumbered by building regulations.
Read 7 tweets
10 Mar
THREAD: Pro-government media in Serbia have launched a smear campaign that falsely ties OCCRP member center @KRIKrs to a Serbian crime gang.

These outlets are putting journalists’ lives in danger. #PressFreedom…
Serbian pro-government tabloids have published stories falsely accusing @KRIKrs and its editor in chief @StevanOCCRP of having ties to the Kavač — a violent Montenegrin gang that KRIK exposed in a major 2020 investigation. 2/…
"This blatantly false accusation puts KRIK journalists in serious danger — by linking them to the Kavač gang’s criminal activities, these pro-state tabloids provide criminal groups justification for murder."

OCCRP Co-Founder @drewoccrp 3/
Read 5 tweets

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