Today continuing this corruption expose from PolitNavigator, written by Alexander Rostovtsev. The headline states that the “Americans” are turning on their own man, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. “Americans” meaning a Radio Svoboda project called “Schemes”, whose mission is to expose the corruption of high-placed political figures who have displeased their puppet masters in Washington D.C.
Bottom line: Every Ukrainian politician, without exception, is corrupt. As is every American politician. They all use politics to feather their own nests and steal money from law-abiding taxpayers. That’s just the way it is. But the Ukraine is a particularly gangster-type state, in which most “high politics” consists of a few mobster families competing with each other to see who can steal the most national wealth from ordinary working people. Also remember that this is a long-play grift. One involving decades of stealing all the public wealth that was accumulated during 70 years of Soviet government. No new wealth is being created here: It’s all about scavenging what already exists.
Anyhow, this particular scheme involves an oil-and-gas field (Svistunkovsko-Krasnolutskoe, but I am going to call it “Svistun” for short) in the Poltava Oblast of the Ukraine. The Ukrainian oil company Ukrnafta had been put in charge of the geological surveys, to determine if there was anything in Svistun worth drilling for. [Yesterday I might have indicated misleadingly that Ukrnafta is state-owned. In reality, it was privatized in the “Wild 90’s” but is still over 50% state-owned. 42% of Ukrnafta belongs to the “Privat Group” of Ukrainian oligarch Igor Kolomoisky.]
In 2014 Ukrnafta’s licensing term ran out. But the geological surveys of Svistun had shown there was some high quality dinosaur doo-doo down there, so company officials were eager to start drilling. Imagine their dismay when Ukrnafta’s applications were rejected, and continued to be rejected for the next two years, with no good reason given. Even though they were the best man for the job.
Then a bombshell: On 18 May 2017, drilling rights to Svistun were suddenly, and egregiously, handed to a small private firm that nobody had ever heard of, by the name ООО Arkona Gas-Energy Company. The Russian initials ООО stand for the words “Company With Limited Liability” (Общество с ограниченной ответственностью) and would correspond to English LLC, if I am not mistaken. Yup, I had to look that up, in case you’re wondering.
And here is the kicker: Not only did Arkona just spring up out of the waves, like Venus on a clam-shell, but they bought the rights to drill Svistun for literally a whistle and a song: The miserable sum of 3.8 million hryvnas. That sounds like a lot, but in American money it’s under $150,000. Which is literally peanuts. Plus Arkona won the contract without going to auction, like they were supposed to do. In their lawsuit, Ukrnafta says they were willing to pay no less than 45 million, and up to 110 million, if the thing had gone to auction.
The intrepid anti-Corruption team of Radio Svoboda did a bit of poking and discovered — Surprise Surprise! — that Arkona is a dummy shell firm, behind whose frontage lurks the gaseous visage of President Petro Poroshenko and his oily entourage.
See, if Ukrnafta had gotten the drilling contract, then 58% of all the profits would go into the state budget, with Kolomoisky getting the other 42% into his pocket. One might begrudge Kolo that much dough, but at least the taxpayers would still get a chunk. As it stands now, they will get bupkus.
Is Only Small Field
The officials of Arkona wave away any suggestions that they underpaid for the drilling rights: “Oh, that old thing… After all, is only small field…. Nothing there, really…” They claim there is only about 320 million cubes (=cubic meters) of gas down there, plus 46,000 tons of condensate. The officials of Ukrnafta beg to disagree: According to their estimates, Svistun contains reserves of up to 1.6 billion cubes of gas and 130,000 tons of condensate. If one believes Ukrnafta’s estimates over Arkona’s, then the facts lead to this conclusion: The Svistun gas field is worth no less than half a billion dollars. Which means that Arkona underestimated future profits (not to mention taxes) by five times!
According to Arkona’s official communications, they are a large and established company with a founding capital of 4,000 hryvnas (just under $150 American dollars. Yes, that’s dollars, not thousands of dollars.) The official owner of Arkona is listed as a man named Igor Mychko. Mychko used to work in the Prosecutor’s Office of Donetsk. In September of 2016 he raised more capital for Arkona, up to 5.6 million hryvnas (around $208K American dollars), and handed over half the company to a certain Alexander Neshchotny, who also used to work in the local government in Donetsk Oblast.
Within a couple of weeks after obtaining the license to drill Svistun (June 1, 2017), Arkona began to rapidly acquire more co-owners. A certain Alexei Grebenchenko acquired 5% of the company. Grebenchenko owns his own private company, this one an ОАО which is Russian for “Open Stock Company” (Открытое Акционерное Общество). Grebenchenko’s private company is called Укропткульттовары (“Ukropt-kult-tovary), located in the Kirovograd Oblast of the Ukraine. According to Rostovtsev, this company produces office supplies like stapers and 3-hole punchers. But when I googled it, I saw gift boxes of chocolates, and the like. I cannot explain the discrepancy, but the chocolates make more sense. Since, by just one degree of separation, the actual owner of Ukropt is listed as a certain P.A. Poroshenko. Otherwise known as the “Chocolate King” of Ukraine, due to his ownership of Roshen Chocolate Factory. In his other persona, Poroshenko is known as the so-called President of the so-called Ukraine.
[to be continued]