MOL and OTP, Hungarian Matriochka dolls

The Russian billionaire Megdet Rahimkulov (73 years old) made his way on a list of Russian oligarchs in Kremlin’s circle of power and is considered one of president Putin’s close acquaintances. Rahimkulov has a double citizenship, both Hungarian and Russian, and has a fortune worth over 1.2 billion USD. He runs businesses from Budapest. The oligarch Medget Rahimkulov is the second in command shareholder of the Hungarian OTP banking group. The group also has subsidiaries on the Romanian market. The Romanian National Bank opposed OTP Bank’s intention to take over the Romanian Bank, a part of the Bank of Greece National Group. The MOL Group, also currently present on the Romanian market, is yet another company that combines Russian and oligarch Rahimkulov’s interests. Back in the middle of the ‘90s, the Gazprom company joined the MOL Group and together they started the Panrusgaz joint venture. Megdet Rahimkulov took over 10% of the Panrusgaz shares. He was also appointed executive director. Another interesting business was the purchasing by Gazprom of Altalanos ErtekForgalmi Bank, run by Rahimkulov. Later, the bank was repurchased by the Russian Hungarian billionaire. Back in 2007, the Hungarian mass-media reported that Rahimkulov sold the bank he repurchased from the Russians and invested the money in MOL and OTP Bank shares, the largest bank in Hungary. For a short period of time, the oligarch Rahimkulov was Gazprom’s representative in Budapest. A diplomatic source informed Stratfor George Friedman that Rahimkulov was former Gazprom director Rem Vyahiriev’s deputy. The information appears in a document published by Wikileaks. OTP Bank, on the Romanian market since 2004, recently tried to buy the Romanian Bank. Due to the Romanian National Bank’s (BNR) intervention opposing the deal, the purchase was not finalized. On March 15, 2018, BNR announced that “it opposes OTP Bank România SA’s intention to purchase a direct participation (of 99,28%), (…) of the social capital and the voting rights of the Romanian Bank SA, a member of the Bank of Greece National Group”. BNR has not made the reasons for opposing the deal public. MOL and OTP, Russian bridgeheads The MOL and OTP Bank companies represent two bridgeheads for Russian interests in the European Union. On the integrated management level of the supply chain, the MOL Group controls four oil refineries and two petro-chemical plants in Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia. The company owns a network of over 2,000 gas stations in Central and Southeastern Europe, in ten countries, 210 of them in Romania. The biggest shareholder of the MOL Group is the Hungarian government. Other shareholders are OTP Bank Plc. and OTP Fund Management. In 2007, Stratfor George Friedman shared an internal e-mail he got from a diplomatic source that talked about Russian interests in MOL. The e-mail was made public by Wikileaks. „Most MOL shares are in Russian hands,” the diplomatic source said. „Generally, we can state that direct and indirect Russian interests already exceed 50%. MOL is Russia’s first goal, the second one will be OTP, the largest bank in Hungary”, the diplomatic source mentioned in the document. The source also showed how the shares got into the Russian’s possesion by means of OMV. In 2009, the Austrian OMV Group was publicly accused that it is nothing more than a cover for Russian interests. The claim was made by MOL’s executive president Zsolt Hernadi, during a session of the External Affairs Committee of the Hungarian Parliament. The statement was made when OMV sold 21% of the MOL shares to the Russians at Surgutneftegaz, a company controlled by billionaire Vladimir Bogdanov, he too on the Russian oligarchs list issued by the United States Treasury.