A carpet of money for the President of Guatemala: how a simple ambulance doctor from Almaty found himself at the center of an international scandal

A carpet of money for the President of Guatemala: how a simple ambulance doctor from Almaty found himself at the center of an international scandal
Eurasian Resources Group, controlled by the government of Kazakhstan (40%), as well as businessmen Alexander Mashkevich, Patokh Shodiev and the heirs of Alidzhan Ibragimov, found itself at the center of yet another corruption scandal, this time in Latin America.

According to the Guatemalan prosecutor’s office, a certain “group of Russians” bribed the country’s president, Alejandro Giammattei, to obtain permission to build a new bulk cargo terminal in the country’s largest port, Santo Tomas de Castilla. The cash for the president was wrapped in a carpet before being handed over.

At the beginning of the summer, the anti-corruption agency of Guatemala tried to investigate the bribery case. Almost immediately, its head Juan Francisco Sandoval was fired, and then fled the country, taking with him all the evidence he had collected. Now he himself has become a defendant in the prosecution’s investigation into the disclosure of confidential information (the very evidence) — in particular, about persons who may be directly related to the transfer of money to the President of Guatemala.

We have collected all the important information about this incident, tell about its participants, as well as about the role of the “Eurasian Group” and Alexander Mashkevich personally.

Essence of the question 

According to the Guatemalan edition of Elperiodico, in mid-January, the director of the Swiss company International Metal Supply (IMS) Marina Pozzi Pedulla presented the IMS Atlantic Bulk Cargo subsidiary to the management of the Guatemalan National Port Company (Empornac) as a candidate for the management and construction of a new port terminal in the town of Puerto Barrios. …

Two months later, Atlantic Bulk Cargo was registered in the commercial register of Guatemala with an address that completely coincides with the commercial address of another Guatemalan subsidiary of IMS, the mining company Mayaniquel SA. A certain Andrei Antonov was appointed the legal representative of the company, which was supposed to start work in the port . It was about the construction of a terminal on an area of at least 150 thousand square meters, which, after completion of the work, could handle up to 5 million tons of solid bulk materials per year. The project cost was estimated at $ 30 million.

International Metal Supply, headed by Marina Pozzi Pedulla, is registered in Switzerland at the same address as another company, where a woman also holds a leading position — Telf AG. This structure, in turn, is the main external trader of the products of the Eurasian Resources Group, which the group receives from the Kazakh projects Shubarkul Komir and Kazchrome.

International Metal Supply is affiliated with International Mineral Resources, owned by the Eurasian Resources Group, divided between the Committee for State Property and Privatization of the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Mashkevich, Shodiev and the heirs of Alidzhan Ibragimov.

According to Guatemalan journalists, which they received from the escaped head of the anti-corruption department Juan Francisco Sandoval, in the second half of April a delegation of “Russian businessmen” landed in the capital of Guatemala, who were supposed to influence the decision on the choice of the final contractor for the development of the port.

As an argument, according to Sandoval, the visitors brought cash with them, which was wrapped in a carpet. After bandaging the gift with a red ribbon, they took it to the residence of the President of Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei. It is not known what amount is in question, since the direct witness was present only during the transfer of the money already packed in a carpet — the source of the investigation worked as a bodyguard for one of the Russians.

A few months after the transfer of the carpet, Antonov asked to reduce the cost of renting a port building land from $ 4.5 to $ 1 per square meter. According to journalists, his request was granted.

After information about the possible bribery of the president appeared in the public domain, the national company decided to abandon the deal with Atlantic Bulk Cargo. But this was reported only in early September, when the scandal around the carpet with cash had already gained impressive momentum and the country’s prosecutor’s office began an investigation.

A doctor from Kazakhstan, two chop officers and a Moscow party girl 

Interestingly, initially, the visit of the Russians and their possible bribery of the President of Guatemala was associated with the supply of Sputnik V vaccines to this country (Russia disrupted supplies for the prepaid volume, which made the local Ministry of Health demand 5.8 billion rubles from Moscow). Later it became clear that the vaccine had nothing to do with it: the interest of the visitors was connected precisely with the mining industry and logistics.

Elperiodico journalists learned the names of several members of that scandalous delegation, the meeting with which was later confirmed by the Minister of Economy of Guatemala, Roberto Antonio Malouf Morales, calling them representatives of firms “working in the country for a long time.” However, according to him , there was no talk of business and the “businessmen” flew in to “enjoy the beauty of our country.”

The names of these businessmen are Sergey Kuvaev , Alesia Pribytkov , Natalya Lyubitskaya , a citizen of Kazakhstan, Alexander Solop , Alexander Vasyaev (in some publications, Vasiliev ), and an Israeli, Julian Shokron . It was these people, according to the former head of the anti-corruption department, who brought money into the country and organized their transfer to the President of Guatemala. We were able to identify some of them. It turned out to be a rather motley company.

Passports of the group allegedly involved in handing over the bribe to the President of Guatemala

The first two from the list, Sergey Kuvaev and Alexey Pribytkov, are Muscovites. Kuvaev and Pribytkov are employees of the private security company Arsenal-99, both work there as a “senior security guard” with a monthly salary of 200 thousand rubles. Kuvaev is registered in Khrushchev in the Moscow region of Severnoye Izmailovo. There is also an apartment in Balashikha (103 m² purchased in 2013 with a mortgage) and a small private house in the same place. The profit is also registered in Khrushchev, but in Zelenograd near Moscow. Kuvaev and Pribytkov received their foreign passports on the same day on April 24, 2019.

The founder and general director of PSC Arsenal-99 LLC is Alexander Bogachev . According to leaks from Russian publicly available databases, Bogachev not only ran a private security company, but also worked in the security service of the Russian branch of the Eurasian Bank, which is part of the Eurasian Group. As a bank employee, he received a solid salary — more than 3.5 million rubles a year. At the same time, the private security company recorded on it showed a minimum profit of several hundred thousand rubles.

It is highly probable that Arsenal-99 is affiliated with ERG.

The third member of the “Russian delegation” is Natalya Lyubitskaya. In publicly available databases, she is mentioned as the deputy director of Stroy Consulting LLC (INN 7728214723, founder Boris Erusalimsky ) with a salary, like Kuvaev and Pribytkov, 200 thousand rubles. The main activity of the company is “Demolition and demolition of buildings”. At the end of 2020, Stroy Consulting received a loss of 2.3 million rubles (against a profit of 22 million rubles in 2019 and 78 million rubles in 2018). Lyubitskaya was also a co-founder of Advice LLC (in equal shares with a certain Olga Khartsiy), registered at the same address as Stroy Consulting LLC. Last year, the unprofitable Advice LLC was liquidated. Olga Khartsy worked in several other companies, among the founders of which was Boris Yerusalimsky and associated with various construction works. All these companies existed for a relatively short time and were liquidated after receiving significant losses. We did not manage to find any obvious connection between the Eurasian group and the company where Natalia Lyubitskaya works now. But we found the connection with the “group of businessmen” who arrived in Guatemala by examining her Instagram , posts in which prove that she really was in Guatemala from April 22 to April 29.

Instagram posts by Natalia Lyubitskaya

True, her role in this group is incomprehensible. Judging again by her instagram, Natalia Lyubitskaya’s main activity is travel and social events. Although these skills are quite enough for transporting the cache.

The last member of the group whom we were able to identify was a citizen of Kazakhstan, Alexander Solop. Social media also helped us to understand his place in the team, namely his account on Odnoklassniki. From it we learned that Solop works as a paramedic at the Almaty ambulance station No. 4 and loves to travel.

Alexander Solop at work

Moreover, judging by the photographs, exotic countries, where Eurasian Resources Group conducts its business, are of particular interest to him as a traveler.
The map
The map is taken from the official ERG website . For several years, Solop traveled to Brazil, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Belgium (of which Alijan Ibragimov was a citizen).

The version of a simple coincidence is swept aside by another photo of Alexander Solop from Odnoklassniki in front of a private jet. This Gulfstream G650 with tail number M‑AAAL belongs to Alexander Mashkevich.

A carpet of money for the President of Guatemala: how a simple ambulance doctor from Almaty found himself at the center of an international scandal

Probably, the group or part of it also flew to Guatemala on Mashkevich’s plane, here is the track of his flight on April 26.
A carpet of money for the President of Guatemala: how a simple ambulance doctor from Almaty found himself at the center of an international scandal
Flight of Mashkevich’s jet from Punta Cana to Guatemala 26.04.21. On May 7, Natalia Lyubitskaya will post photos from Punta Cana .

The April flight is not the only time Mashkevich’s plane landed in Guatemala. Over the past few months, the M‑AAAL has visited this country several times, according to the flight data of its jet.

A carpet of money for the President of Guatemala: how a simple ambulance doctor from Almaty found himself at the center of an international scandal

It follows from the above that at least three of the group suspected of bribing the President of Guatemala Alejandro Giammattei are directly related to the Eurasian Resources Group and its interests in this Central American country — these are two bodyguards from a security firm affiliated with “Eurasians” ( most likely they were responsible for the force cover of the operation) and an ambulance paramedic from Almaty, traveling on Mashkevich’s private plane.

Probably, we will find out the details of this case in the near future: the Guatemalan prosecutor’s office opened the case only in early September and the investigation is at an initial stage. But even now we can say that for his main defendants, suspicion of corruption and criminal incidents is not something out of the ordinary. For example, President Alejandro Giammattei himself managed to serve time in prison on charges of mass slaughter in a penal colony, which was staged by his subordinates when the future head of state was in charge of the state penitentiary system. The UN Commission, which has studied corruption in Guatemala for 12 years, in its final report described a country as a state overrun by a mafia coalition of government, business and private individuals who are “willing to sacrifice Guatemala’s present and future in order to maintain the status quo.”

Finally, the Eurasian Resources Group and its beneficiaries are constantly at the center of corruption scandals around the world.

In 2013, the UK Financial Fraud Investigation Office (SFO) suspected ENRC (formerly ERG) of fraud, corruption and bribery of African presidents, misappropriation of $ 35 million and destruction of documents in order to interfere with the investigation. In particular, it was then about the controversial purchase by ENRC of a copper mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 2015, the bodies of two managers of the Congolese subsidiaries of the Eurasian group were found in a hotel in the United States. Litigation continues to this day. Including with counterclaims from the company against journalists investigating its activities.

In May 2015, French security forces searched Villa Le Petit Rocher Patokha Shodiev located on the billionaire peninsula (we wrote about this in one of his texts). The search took place as part of a corruption investigation at the Elysee Palace. In particular, Shodiev was suspected of bribing Nicolas Sarkozy’s associates for settling his issues in Belgium, in which a money laundering case was investigated against him and his ERG partners Alexander Mashkevich and Alidzhan Ibragimov. In early 2011, the Belgian parliament amended the criminal code, which made it possible to conclude transactions with the investigation and avoid criminal punishment for a certain amount of money for a number of economic crimes. After fifteen years of investigation, the laundering case was closed, and the budget of Belgium received € 23 million from the “Eurasian troika”. According to the French and Belgian prosecutors, these amendments were lobbied in the interests of Chodiev and his partners by the people of Nicolas Sarkozy.

Written by Josefa Martinez exclusively for maininfo.news.