Monday, April 15, 2024

Ukrainian Top Officials and the Diia Portal are at the Center of a Corruption Scandal Involving a Wildcat Venture and Russian Gambling Capital

Another corruption story is unfolding in Ukraine. It is related to top officials, the Russian gambling business, and the Diia unified state web portal, which millions of Ukrainians use daily.

According to the Ukrainian journalists from the Ekonomicheskaya Pravda broadsheet, a private and little-known “Yedinoye Prostranstvo” financial company was illegally chosen to process payments at the Diia platform. The company has become a monopolist, and it is the only payment system that processes tens of millions of payments for Diia every single year. At the same time, the company and its owners have earned millions of dollars by taking fees from each payment over several years. The journalists wanted to answer the following questions: Why an open competition was not organized? Why large state and private banks, as well as financial companies with much more experience and a proper technical base, were not allowed to process payments for Diia? The head of the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, Mikhail Fedorov, who launched the Diia and who oversees it, could not explain why there was no open procedure for such a government contract and why the Diia is serviced by a little-known private financial company instead of using services of the most popular state banks. Interestingly enough, the owner of the “Yedinoye Prostranstvo” financial company is connected with the Russian gambling business.

As a result of a journalistic investigation, reporters were able to discover that “Yedinoye Prostranstvo” Financial Company LLC was founded in August 2019 with an authorized capital of UAH 6 million by Tatiana Varchuk. The company has all the signs of a wildcat venture. It is registered at the same address with hundreds of other fictitious companies. The number of its staff is just ten people, but none of them work in the office. The company’s income for 2019 was less than $10,000.

Starting from July 2020, Igor Zotko became the main owner of the company, with participation in the authorized capital in the amount of UAH 5.7 million (95%). In addition, at the beginning of 2022, he increased the authorized capital of the enterprise by UAH 2 million and raised it up to UAH 8 million. According to his declaration for the same period, his income was not enough to buy a company with such an authorized capital, and then increase it. This factor also indicates the fictitiousness of the purchase.

Starting from 2021 – the moment of establishing relations with the Diia platform at the end of 2020 – the company’s revenues started to grow. Already in 2021, the income of the company amounted to UAH 9.8 million. In 2022 it reached UAH 26.4 million (according to tax returns), and in the first half of 2023 – UAH 20.6 million (net income according to the financial report).

Igor Zotko is also the founder of “Ukr Game Technology” LLC. This company has obtained a license to organize and conduct casino and gambling activities online. It is used to operate the Pin-Up.ua casino. Zotko himself is the Chief Operating Officer at Pin-Up.ua. It is worth noting that the Pin-Up online casino is connected with the Russian business and is a part of it. It was stated by the head of the Pin-Up Partners partner program Alexander “Riddick” in February 2022. Moreover, he called the office in Kyiv one of the largest. Interestingly, this business was founded in 2018 in Russia and was positioned as a gaming holding. As of today, all assets of Pin-Up in Russia belong to the son-in-law of Russian Prime Minister, Mr. Mishustin.

Journalists believe that the “Yedinoye Prostranstvo” financial company is under the nominal management of Igor Zotko, who has worked for many years and probably continues to work for the Ukrainian banker Igor Fisun, who is also the shareholder of “Oxi-Bank”, and the owner of “UKRKART”.

Earlier, Igor Zotko was the nominee director at UKRKART and was officially associated with Igor Fisun in many areas.

Ukrainian law enforcement agencies have opened criminal case no. 72022000400000003. It says that Igor Zotko and Igor Fisun, using UKRKART and a dozen Ukrainian banks, created one of the largest online casino tax evasion networks in Ukraine.

Igor Fisun’s clients include 1xBet and Pin UP from Russia, as well as Parimatch, Favbet, Volcano, Slotoking, Joker, VBet, FanSport, GGPoker, and Pokermatch.

Among the banks that somehow participated in the largest tax evasion network are Igor Fisun’s Oxi-Bank, Poltava-Bank, Sergei Mammadov’s GlobusBank, and up to 10 other financial institutions.

Ukrainian journalists highlight the fact that the “Yedinoye Prostranstvo” financial company has patrons in high government offices. In addition to Mikhail Fedorov, this company operates thanks to the head of the National Bank Andrey Pyshny. In fact, it is actually controlled by him while he receives a lot of money as secret fees and commissions. In addition, the head of the National Bank continues to lobby the interests of “Yedinoye Prostranstvo” to process payments for Diia and turn a blind eye to numerous violations and questionable ties with the Russian Federation.

According to the journalists, Andrey Pyshny has long been exposed as a person lobbying the interests of various participants in the gambling business and banks, which are used to process billions of hryvnias of illegal payments to online casinos, including Oschadbank and ComInBank.

Journalists also have questions for the Commission for Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries, which does not want to revoke the license of “Ukr Game Technology” LLC due to ties with Russian business.

Ukrainian journalists hope for the reaction of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and international structures, as well as Visa and Mastercard payment systems, which will help to stop corruption and lawlessness.

Claire James
Claire Jameshttp://www.firedigitaluk.com
Claire is an accounts manager at Fire Digital UK, an online publishing and content marketing company based in the North West.

Recent Articles

Related Stories

sakarya escort bayan Eskişehir escort bayan