Strabag, Deripaska’s cover

The oligarch Oleg Deripaska has a fortune which has been estimated to seven billion dollars. But, after being included, in the week of April, on the USA black list of penalties, his financial empire started to falter. Later, the value of the companies controlled by fell by half. The Russian magnate runs business also on the Romanian market, by means of Strabag, a company that partnered up with the Ministry of Transportation in a firm that works with tens of millions of Euros on a yearly basis. Furthermore, the Deripaska controlled companies are fixing the Romanian roads, are developing real estate projects and control the JW Marriott Hotel.

Putin’s confidant

Oleg Deripaska was placed on the USA black list of penalities “because he acted or pretended to act, directly or indirectly, on behalf of a high ranking official of the Russian Federation”. Following the announcement, the stock market value of his businesses fell all over the world. He controls the EN+ group, the umbrella for a conglomerate of companies all over the world. Including Rusal and Nornichel, the biggest players on the aluminum and nickel market. On the 6th of April of this year, the White House issued a press release warning the inclusion of seven Russian oligarchs, led by Deripaska, and of their companies on the black list of penalties. Together with them, on the black list were included another 17 Russian state officials. The United States imposed penalties against the Russian on grounds of the situation in Ukraine, the support provided to president Bashar al-Assad in the civil war in Syria and the undermining of Western democracies. “We cannot allow those who wish to sow confusion, discord and resentment to succeed”, president Donald Trump said. The businesses run by magnate Deripaska are strictly connected with the Moscow government. And it is not a recent connection, but it dates back ever since former president Boris Elțîn was running the country. Nowadays, the businessman frequently meets president Vladimir Putin. Deripaska’s wife Polina is the daughter of Valentin Yumashev, Elţîn’s son in law and former chief of the Moscow Presidential Administration. The former Russian president turn over “the throne of Russia” to Vladimir Putin. Deripaska claims that his interests are indivisible from the ones of the Russian state. But he bought himself a Cypriot citizenship and became a European Union citizen.

In partnership with the Romanian state

In 1998, Oleg Deripaska made his presence on the Romanian market known, when he purchased the Alor Oradea alumina producer. The state owned company was bought at liquidation value by Russki Aluminium, a company owned by Roman Abramovich and Oleg Deripaska by means of the Cemtrade firm. It ran for two years, than the company ended its activity. Later, Deripaska took over 30% of the Austrian company Strabag. He withdrew from the business and later repurchased a quarter of the company. Besides Deripaska, the Strabag group has another three main shareholders: Haselsteiner Group, Raiffeisen-Holding NO-Wien Group, Uniqa Group and Rasperia Trading Limited (sunt 4 nume, nu 3), member of the Basic Element group, also owned by Deripaska.

In 1991, the Austrian company Strabag opened a Romanian subsidiary and named it the same. Later, it opened and took over another 17 companies. Over the last 10 years, Strabag SRL was awarded hundreds of public contracts worth over 800 million Euros. The parent company also owns the Antrepriza de Reparații și Lucrări (ARL) Cluj, where it partners up with the Ministry of Transportation. Over the last three fiscal years, it had revenues of over 120 million Euros. The main supplier was the National Romanian Company for Highways and National Roads. Strabag partners up with the Timiş County Council in another company, Drumco SA. Over the last three fiscal years, the company’s turnover was over eight million Euros. Over the same period of time, the company reported 1.6 million dollars in losses. The former Foreign Affairs Ministry Cristian Diaconescu explained that the Russian economy entered a pretty complicated phase. As opposed to former penalties, the Russian government took a series of actions including capital injection in companies that are in the power circle. “The idea of doing businesses with this kind of companies is not an alegant one. The decent thing to do would be for the Ministry of Transportation to renounce such partnerships,” said Cristian Diaconescu.

Tax fraud at Marriott

Oleg Deripaska and the other three Strabag shareholders are in complete control over the Grand (SCH Grand) Society of Companies in the Hotel Industry that owns the JW Marriott Hotel in Bucharest. Until 2013, 35% of the shares belonged to ONT Carpați. The majority shareholder of the company was the Bank of Cyprus România. ONT became bankrupt and the block of shares it owned in SCH Grand was bought by Cyprus headquartered Unknownplan Properties Limited with 13.8 million Euros. The Cypriot company was managed by Georgios Christoforou, former general director of Bank of Cyprus România. Later, Georgios Christoforou sold his shares to the Strabag group, a transaction that was authorized by the Competition Council. In the summer of 2016, officers from the department of Economic Crimes Investigations raided the Marriott Hotel. The Romanian investigators claim that, during 2008-2015, the hotel officials defrauded the Romanian state with 1.6 million Euros. The criminal case targeted general director Gregor Aufhauser, financial director Kathrin Brettschneider and the SCH Grand company. The Spanish authorities suspected Oleg Deripaska of laundering four million Euros for the Russian Mafia during 2001-2004. In the autumn of 2009, the El Mundo newspaper announced that a key witness clearly made the connection between the Russian billionaire and the că Izmailovskaia Mafia. The investigators focused their efforts on a Valencia headquartered company, a subsidiary of the large Russian enterprise UMGC that is managed by the three partners. Supposedly, Oleg Deripaska used the company for money laundering.