Ukrainian politicians often use the services of US lobbyists. However, the latest report on the website of the US Department of Justice on the provision of lobbying services is significantly different from the usual ones. There is no specificity as to what exactly these services will consist of.
The document contains only the name of the company—Diplomatic Trade that promises free lobbying in favor of Ukrainians, and two names—American businessman Benjamin Ballout and Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister for Strategic Industries Oleh Uruskyy, is said in the investigation of the anti-corruption TV program Scheme.
Lobbying the government interests in the United States
However, the Ukrainian government denies cooperation with Diplomatic Trade. The existence of any agreements is denied by Deputy Prime Minister Uruskyy and other state bodies.
At the same time, it is the aforementioned American businessman who is going to implement large-scale projects in Ukraine for the construction of a power plant in the Chornobyl exclusion zone, the construction of a plant for the "green hydrogen" production and the launch of 5G communications with the support of the government.
Little is known about the company itself that intends to implement the projects. It did not provide such services either to the Ukrainian side or to other countries before.
The document on the Ministry of Justice website contains the signature of only one party—the Managing Director at Diplomatic Trade Benjamin Ballout. It also contains a note that this "agreement or arrangement between the registrant and the foreign company is not the result of either written execution or exchange of correspondence between the parties."
Agreement on SpaceX
Ballout said that Diplomatic Trade will organize Uruskyy's meetings with representatives of SpaceX in the United States to reach agreements on the Ukrainian satellite launch. However, Uruskyy denies any agreement on lobbying a meeting with SpaceX representatives. And his trip to the United States is organized by the Ministry of Strategic Industries and the US Embassy.
At the same time, Dmytro Natalukha, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Economic Development, said that there was already a preliminary agreement with SpaceX on the launch of a Ukrainian satellite.
In turn, Uruskyy noted that the correspondence with Diplomatic Trade did take place, but did not contain any obligations and was of a purely informative nature.
Construction of a power plant in the Chornobyl exclusion zone
However, Ballout owns more than one company that has announced cooperation with the Ukrainian government. In particular, we are talking about Enerkon Solar International. The company said in a public announcement that it would cooperate with the Ukrainian government in several more major business projects.
In particular, Ballout noted that Enerkon and the Cabinet of Ministers signed a memorandum, according to which the American company gained an offing to build a powerful solar power plant and a plant for the "green" hydrogen production in the Chornobyl exclusion zone.
However, it is impossible to build a power plant with the company's declared capacity of 3 gigawatts. Such a station requires 6,000 hectares of flat surface with all the appropriate infrastructure.
5G in Ukraine
In addition, Enerkon plans to participate in the creation of a 5G communications national operator in Ukraine—on the basis of the state-owned enterprise Ukrdorsvyaz.
However, it turned out that all these statements are in no way confirmed by the government and by the enterprises Ballout plans to cooperate with.
And the cooperation with the company Ukrdorsvyaz is impossible at all, since it does not have the necessary capacities and is in a state of nationalization.
Moreover, the Ministry of Digital Transformation is currently implementing 5G in Ukraine. The sale of 5G licenses is planned for December 2021. And in March, the Ministry announced that it had signed a memorandum with the innovation park UNIT.city. This memorandum provides for the creation of a test site for the use of 5G technology.
Why Ballout needs fake projects in Ukraine
Enerkon trades its securities on the OTC Markets platform. Since shares there have a high investment risk, companies are forced to file reports and audit results.
During the investigation, it turned out that over the past three months, the value of Enerkon shares has grown more than 50 times.
Probably, such a leap has become possible particularly because the company constantly mentioned business projects in Ukraine in its press releases.
The latest leap in the value of the Enerkon shares was caused by its announcement of organizing meetings of Deputy Prime Minister Uruskyy with representatives of SpaceX.
And though the shares have declined in value from their all-time high of $2.08 to $0.57, they have gone up more than tenfold since the first announcement of the negotiations by Enerkon. Thus, the net capital of its founder Benjamin Ballout, who owns 50.3% of the company's shares, could reach more than $18.5 million.
Such behavior on the stock exchange—statements about agreements and business projects that the government could not confirm—are called pump and dump by financiers. This practice is illegal in the United States.