$ 1 billion energy company: We no longer have Russian investors or customers

Industry / Bulgaria
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On Wednesday, the Bulgarian government signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with two foreign companies on energy co-operation. The document envisages planning and implementation of projects for clean energy production, alternative and strategic gas supplies, security of energy supply, clean energy and development of nuclear energy, studies for the construction of a hybrid industrial complex on the territory of Maritsa East. This co-operation is expected to provide $ 1 billion in investments in Bulgarian energy. The memorandum was signed by the Bulgarian Minister of Energy Alexander Nikolov, which took place in the presence of Prime Minister Kiril Petkov. Both companies are Gemcorp Capital Management Ltd. and IP3 Corporation.

The very next day, however, doubts began to arise about the name of the first. According to information from bird.bg Gemcorp Capital Management Ltd. is associated with the Russian oligarch Albert Avdolyan, who is its co-founder. He was investigated by the US financial intelligence for money laundering, and part of the same investigation was the Bulgarian Atanas Bostandjiev, who actually signed the memorandum by Gemcorp. It is also alleged that Avdolyan has close relations and develops business with Sergei Chemezov, who heads the Russian state corporation Rostech. For his part, he is considered one of the closest people to Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom he worked for the KGB in the former East Germany. Chemezov is also on the EU and US sanctions lists.

On the other hand, the current head of Gemcorp, Atanas Bostandzhiev, was the manager of VTB Capital, the investment arm of the Russian bank, which was recently sanctioned for Russian aggression in Ukraine. Due to the connection with VTB Capital Bostandjiev, Avdolyan and the company Gemcorp were checked by the US financial intelligence in 2017 for suspicious transactions.

The name of Gemcorp appeared in our country some time ago - in 2014, when the company was part of a consortium that proposed a plan for restructuring and recapitalization of the then bankrupt bank KTB.

However, Gemcorp itself categorically denies that it still has ties to Russia or the people mentioned above. A statement on its website, published on March 17, said that at the moment it has neither investors nor clients in Russia. It states that the original investor in the Gemcorp Capital fund was a legal entity supported by two Russian citizens. But they have never been subject to Western sanctions. Gemcorp said in a statement that the investment had been repurchased in 2020 and that Gemcorp had not received any Russian-related investment since then.

In terms of relationships with Russian customers, Gemcorp notes that they are a company that develops business globally. In this regard, Russia has been a key supplier of grain to some of the company's customers in developing countries, but the supply of Russian grain has represented a relatively small part of the overall business internationally. Gemcorp Commodities Trading, the Gemcorp Group's commodities trading company, managed grain purchases in Russia in 2019 and 2020. "But this business was shut down in the first half of 2021 and the company's office in Russia was closed in the middle of 2021

The company also notes that its policy is aimed at strict compliance with sanctions imposed by the EU, Britain, the United States and the United Nations. The Gemcorp Group also has a dedicated team of experts to monitor strict compliance with this policy.

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