War Profiteering : How EX Ukrainian Pro Russian Politician Khomutynnik Finances Kremlin Agent Firtash During the War
Author: Volodymyr Tsybulko
Apparently, Vitaliy Khomutynnik was born near Makiivtsi (Donetsk region) and started early in politics, becoming the youngest People’s Deputy. In 2003, he became the head of the youth wing of the Party of Regions and later joined the main party. Khomutynnik was a loyal supporter of the (pro-Russian) Party of Regions and former President Viktor Yanukovych, who had close ties to the Russian Federation and supported Russian President Putin. Khomutinnik served as a People’s Deputy five times, three of which were with the Party of Regions. During this time, he amassed a significant fortune and became one of the richest Ukrainians, ranking 15th on Forbes’ list during the military conflict.
About 5-6 years ago, Khomutinnik became a business partner of oligarch Dmytro Firtash, who was indicted by the US Department of Justice. In addition, at the end of 2021, Firtash faced sanctions from the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine due to his titanium business, which supplied raw materials to Russia. A package of sanctions was imposed against the oligarch, including asset freezes for capital transfer out of the country.
Three years ago, Khomutinnik and his business partner, notorious businessman Pavel Fuks, purchased a 50% stake in the Kiev SEC Respublika from the Ukrainian state. However, instead of paying the full price of UAH 2.5 billion, Khomutinnik and Fuks only paid about UAH 800 million. In 2020, Fuks sold his 25% stake in the Respublika shopping center to Firtash, leaving Khomutinnik with 75% ownership.
Khomutinnik used his connections in the Ukraine Tax Office to arrange for the investment fund “Diligence”, which manages the Respublika shopping center, to receive fictitious VAT returns from the Ukrainian budget. The ultimate beneficiaries of “Diligence” are Firtash and Khomutinnik.
Although “Diligence” manages the shopping and entertainment center, another company owned by Khomutynnik, TOV “SEC Respublika”, operates the rented space. It was revealed that “SEC Respublika” was renting the shopping center to Diligence for UAH 154 million, a secured price with a method of savings and a unique loan.
To finance the mall, Firtash’s company, Megapoliszhitlobud, invested UAH 2.1 billion in a loan from Nadra Bank worth a total of UAH 2.59 billion. A quarter of a billion hryvnias were transferred to the oligarch’s company. In 2015, Nadra Bank declared the loan as non-payment, and in 2018, the right to receive the loan was sold for UAH 777 million. Khomutynnik’s business partner’s company purchased the rights. As a result of this scheme, Khomutinnik and Firtash, through affiliated companies, stole UAH 1.4 billion from the state, while still retaining ownership of the mall.
Furthermore, in 2022, the state gave the company “Diligence” UAH 21.4 million for the supply of surplus products that were lost from the company during the life of the mall. However, there is no documentation or confirmation of this.
The “money bag” of the Kremlin agent
In 2019, Firtash decided to sell his Cypriot company, Dresdenco Investments LTD, the largest trader of mineral fertilizers. Khomutynnyk, through his Cypriot offshore Orinast Limited, successfully bought the company from Firtash, paying him. This transaction violated the sanctions of the National Security Council of Ukraine. Khomutynnik openly declared that he was the beneficiary of Orinast Limited.
According to the AMCU, Dresdenco LTD was created in 2019, with ties to a resident of Ukraine and non-residents, to allegedly conduct business in Ukraine. The beneficiaries of the company are citizens of Austria. According to ZMI data, the company Nika-Agrotrade is among the founders of the German company Dresdenco. The official founder of the company is the Austrian company T&F Trade & Finance Ges.mbH, owned by Austrians Vasil and Sergiy Tolstunov. Vasil Tolstunov is listed as the director of Dresdenco in the Cypriot registry.
As previously reported, “Nika-Agrotrade” was formed as a result of the merger between UkrAgroNPK, owned by Dmytro Firtash, and “Agroimport” of Ukrainian businessman Viktor Dubovenko. Initially, Dubovenko was considered the main founder of Nika-Agrotrade, but in the summer of 2018, he was replaced by the Austrian Tolstunovs. This reveals a sustained business connection between Khomutynnik and Firtash.
In conclusion, it is evident that with the outbreak of the full-scale war with the Russian Federation, many Ukrainian oligarchs and businessmen stopped cooperating with the aggressor, pro-Russian parties, and their allies. However, Khomutynnik appears to have continued his financial support for Dmytro Firtash, a Kremlin agent, and long-time functionary of the Party of Regions, while Ukrainian soldiers risk their lives defending their homeland.