Crimea's oceanic fishing industry becomes instrument of money laundering by Russian entities – media
A joint journalistic investigation of the Canadian television CBC, Radio Canada and Latvia's Nekā Personīga (Nothing personal) has revealed the connection between the activities of the Russian special services and the massive laundering of Russian money through shell companies in other countries, the website of the Crimean Reintegration Association has reported.
The investigation was related to the sinking of the Ukrainian fishing vessel Ivan Golubets in 2019 off the coast of Mauritania. The ship belonged to the Ukrainian state-owned company Service, but was leased to the Canadian offshore company Evial Business, associated with the Latvian company Oceanic Fisheries NB. Ivan Golubets flew under the Georgian flag and was included in the lists of ships of the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping. The insurer of the vessel was Russia's Ingosstrakh, and the insurance policy entered into force five hours before the fire on board.
Evial Business and Oceanic Fisheries in 2016-2017 received large sums to their accounts in the Latvian bank Baltikums (later renamed to BlueOrange) from Russia's Sberbank. In particular, Evial Business received $26.5 million from Russia in just a few months. Oceanic Fisheries owns the Captain Krylov vessel, which was nearby when the Ivan Golubets caught fire. The investigation notes that the fact that other vessels were in the immediate vicinity of the ship during the fire may indicate the vessel was overloaded.
The connection between the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping, Evial Business and the sinking of the vessel Ivan Golubets has already been established by the current decision of the Saratsky District Court of Odesa region of January 29, 2020 in case 513/1077/19. Currently, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) is conducting a corresponding investigation.
The authors of the material note that 30 years ago Ukraine owned a large number of ocean-going fishing vessels. After the occupation of Crimea, their number dropped to 11. The vessels based in the port of Sevastopol were leased to companies registered in Cyprus with unknown owners, and after the annexation of Crimea, Ukraine stopped receiving money for using offshore companies.
Oceanic Fisheries NB is located in Liepaja on the territory of the fishing company Baltreids, owned by businessmen of Russian origin. Baltreids vessels have been caught several times in illegal fishing situations in the Atlantic Ocean. This company is mentioned in Greenpeace reports. Its owners registered a company in Cyprus at the address where the company belonging to BlueOrange Bank is also located.
The Nekā personīga investigation points to the involvement of this company in suspicious transactions with Russian money, and money laundering through shell companies by businessmen of Russian origin in Latvia and Canada would have been impossible without the activities of Ingosstrakh Insurance Company, the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping and other state structures of the Russian Federation.
"Thus, the Crimean oceanic fishery has now become an instrument of money laundering by the Russian state-controlled international mafia in many civilized countries of the world," the report said.