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Offshore empire and $40 million from Kolomoisky: Zelenskyy became one of the defendants in Pandora Papers

Journalists exposed offshore schemes of Zelenskyy and members of Kvartal . Photo: UNIAN

Journalists exposed offshore schemes of Zelenskyy and members of Kvartal . Photo: UNIAN

Ukrainian businessmen and politicians, including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, have become defendants in an extensive investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). In a document called the Pandora Papers, more than 600 journalists from around the world published the results of processing more than 11.9 million secret files. Representatives of Slidstvo.Info also took part in the work on the data obtained as a result of the world's largest leak of confidential documents and files. Using the data on Zelenskyy obtained, they made an investigation film Offshore 95.

The files show that Zelenskyy took part in a branching network of more than ten offshore companies, co-owned by his longtime friends and partners in the television business. The brothers Borys and Serhiy Shefir and Ivan Bakanov (formerly the General Director of the production studio Kvartal 95) were among them. Having come to power, Zelenskyy brought his friends there as well.

Before becoming President, Zelenskyy declared some of his personal assets. These included cars, property, and three offshore companies that are jointly owned. One of them is Film Heritage, which he owned with his wife Olena, registered in Belize.

The Pandora Papers also revealed other offshore assets that the future head of state had hidden. Film Heritage owned 25% of the shares of the Cypriot holding company Davegra headed by Bakanov. Davegra, in turn, was the nominal owner of the "heart" of the offshore scheme Maltex Multicapital Corp (registered in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands). Zelenskyy, the Shefir brothers, and another participant of Kvartal Andrey Yakovlev each owned 25% of Maltex shares. A few weeks before the election, Zelenskyy handed over his stake in the company to his future First Assistant Serhiy Shefir. Davegra has served as a safe haven for all sensitive data, such as the real beneficiaries of Maltex. In turn, when Bakanov came to power in 2019, he handed over the company to Yakovlev.

About six weeks after the elections, a lawyer from the Kvartal 95 group signed a document stipulating that Maltex would continue to pay dividends to Zelenskyy's film company, despite the fact that it no longer owned a stake in the company. According to the Maltex customer profiling, its main income comes from activities in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus. And since the only beneficial owner of Film Heritage since 2019 is Olena Zelenska, she should have obtained all funds.

In addition, the investigators found out that when the studio of the current head of state had begun cooperation with the TV channel 1+1 in 2012, it had obtained about $40 million from companies associated with the Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky. Journalists believe that the branching offshore network had received tens of millions of dollars from Kolomoisky through the Cyprus branch of Privatbank (through which, according to investigators, the oligarch actually had laundered the funds siphoned from the bank).

Part of the $40 million in question, as evidenced by the investigation data, could very likely be used to purchase luxury real estate in London. The journalists managed to find out that Serhiy Shefir through offshore companies had become the owner of two three-room apartments in the British capital (their price is $2.1 million and $3 million), and Yakovlev, according to the same scheme, obtained an apartment in Westminster.

The Pandora Papers is the largest database of hidden fortunes, tax evasion, and money laundering through clandestine offshore companies to date. It sheds light on the financial secrets of the world's richest and most powerful people. The Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) came into possession of an archive of nearly 12 million classified documents, making this leak larger than the Panama Papers (2016) and the Paradise Papers (2017). More than 600 journalists worked on their analysis, including from the Washington Post, Le Monde, El País, Süddeutsche Zeitung, PBS Frontline, BBC, and The Guardian. The files contain the "secrets" of 35 current and former leaders, more than 330 politicians and civil servants, celebrities, businessmen, and billionaires from the USA, Great Britain, Italy, France, Russia and other countries.

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