Among the clients of Finaport, a Zurich asset management firm, were “politically exposed persons”, two Russians accused of embezzling funds from a bank they controlled, and a businessman suspected of insurance fraud. This is evidenced by leaked data.
At first glance, it seems that the Swiss investment firm Finaport Holding worked exclusively with “clean” clients.
From 2017 to 2019, the company – which manages bank accounts, businesses and other assets on behalf of wealthy clients – filed just two suspicious transaction reports with Swiss regulators, according to an internal audit.
During that period, Finaport worked with more than a dozen individuals who had political connections, were accused of corruption or faced criminal charges.
The company’s clients included a former Afghan minister who was removed from office for corruption, a Peruvian politician linked to the Car Wash corruption scandal, and the son of the former head of Uzbekistan’s intelligence services. Among Finaport’s highest-risk clients were Russians.
The company said that the data from the leak was “fragmentary and outdated”, so “conclusions drawn from it about Finaport’s activities may be erroneous.”
Finaport’s controversial clients
Former Russian minister
Leonid Reiman is a former Russian minister of information technology who became an adviser to Vladimir Putin. Judging by documents for 2017-2019, despite Reiman’s past, Finaport did not classify him as a “politically exposed person” (high-risk client). In 2006, international arbitration in Switzerland found that Reiman participated in money laundering in connection with a telecommunications scheme in Russia, as reported by the media, including the Wall Street Journal (Reiman denies the accusations). Finaport began cooperating with the Russian two years later – he is listed in the company documents until 2021. According to the leak, tens of millions of dollars were transferred to Reiman’s accounts controlled by Finaport, which were later withdrawn to Alternativa Capital fund in the Cayman Islands. In 2010, a few weeks after Reiman left his ministerial position, he and Finaport executives decided to create a bank. The project was never implemented. Reiman did not respond to requests for comment.
Gustavo Salazar Delgado
Peruvian authorities accuse former lawyer and insurance businessman Gustavo Salazar Delgado of funneling more than $1 million in bribes to a regional governor as part of a massive corruption scheme known as “Car Wash.” He fled the country in 2017 after a court sentenced him to 18 months of pre-trial detention in connection with the scandal. In 2020-2021, the media reported that Delgado was in the United States, and the Peruvian authorities and the American Ministry of Finance tried to organize his extradition to his homeland. Journalists were unable to find out where he is now. Delgado started working for Finaport in 2014. The company classified him as a high-risk client based on “country risk.” Journalists did not find information about the charges against him in the Finaport files. According to the leak, the company stopped working with Delgado in January 2022. Delgado did not respond to requests for comment.Sharif Inoyatov
Son of an influential figure in Uzbekistan Rustam Inoyatov
49-year-old Sharif Inoyatov – son Rustam Inoyatovformer head of the National Security Service of the Republic of Uzbekistan (from 1995 to 2018) and presidential adviser Shavkat Mirziyoyeva (until 2021). Rustam Inoyatov was the most influential and formidable general in the country. According to an internal letter from Finaport, the company began working with Inoyatov without “any checks” – lawyer Alexander Rabian noted in a response letter that he “does not understand how this could happen.”
The employee who hired Inoyatov was ordered to update his data and undergo internal training, but the new client was not abandoned. Finaport estimated Sharif Inoyatov’s wealth at more than $50 million. Sharif and Rustam Inoyatov did not respond to requests for comment.
Abdul Rahim Wardak
Former Afghan minister and general
Abdul Rahim Wardak is a former Afghan minister and army general in charge of security and defense cooperation with NATO. In 2012, he was removed from his position. International media, including the New York Times and the BBC, wrote that members of the Afghan parliament accused him of corruption (Wardak denies the accusations). This is not mentioned in Finaport’s report on Wardak from 2017, when the company began working with him. Their collaboration ended in 2019. Wardak did not respond to requests for comment.
Matteo Goretti Comolli
Argentine political advisor
Matteo Goretti Comolli is an Argentine political advisor. He was once an advisor to Mauricio Macri, who later became president. In 2015, Goretti and former Culture Minister Hernán Lombardi were convicted of laundering money stolen from the Buenos Aires municipal government (the case was later dropped). Goretti became a client of Finaport in December 2016, while the proceedings were ongoing. The leaked Finaport files do not mention the Argentine’s political connections. Goretti did not respond to requests for comment. The leaked correspondence showed that Finaport employees reacted painfully to bank checks, and sometimes even were rude to controllers. In 2016, an employee of the investment bank Julius Baer sent questions to Finaport about the source of the client’s wealth – the company’s top manager responded with open dissatisfaction.
He forwarded the correspondence to a colleague and added: “This is the kind of crap you have to deal with.” (The company explained his indignation by the fact that he was repeatedly asked for the same information, and noted that it was wrong to draw conclusions “about insufficient checks or violations of control procedures at Finaport based on an isolated case.”)
The firm, which has fewer than 50 employees, says its goal is to “preserve and grow the wealth” of clients “through ethical and sustainable investing.”
The leak did not reveal how many transactions Finaport handles for its clients annually. Experts believe that many of the transactions for which there is data should have at least aroused suspicion in the company: they should have been notified to the Swiss Federal Office for Combating Money Laundering (MROS).
Swiss law obliges asset managers such as Finaport to report transactions to MROS if they have “reasonable grounds to believe that the assets involved in the transactions involve irregularities” or may be “the proceeds of crime.”
In February, leaked documents were briefly made publicly available by Russian hackers APLHV. The files were obtained by Sws Televion (RTS), which passed them on to colleagues at OCCRP, Le Monde and Der Spiegel. Journalists reviewed court documents and commercial databases, spoke with anti-money laundering experts, academics and activists to interpret files and verify information about Finaport clients.
Asset management firms must follow the same control procedures as banks, according to a Swiss financial compliance expert who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity. He believes that in some cases Finaport did not comply with standards set by the Swiss financial regulator.
Finaport said its company is a “common asset manager” that “operates solely on the basis of powers of attorney, which limit its powers to administrative actions.” The firm added that Finaport complies with “all relevant legal regulations” and conducts annual audits.
The company noted that among its clients there were “very few ‘politically exposed persons’.”
“If we have doubts about this, we carry out the necessary control procedures.”
Finaport helped withdraw more than $500 million from a Russian bank that later went bankrupt
The leak showed that files of high-risk Finaport clients were transferred for additional control Alexandru Rabian is a lawyer from the Zurich firm Streichenberg and chief consultant in the compliance department at Finaport.
Journalists obtained a letter from 2018, probably explaining work processes to a new employee: it says that it usually takes Rabian “no more than 15-20 minutes to review” a client’s dossier if all the necessary documents are available.
Rabian said he was conducting a “secondary review” of previous checks on potentially high-risk clients. “I always returned incomplete dossiers to Compliance and Account Managers for revision—sometimes multiple times if required. I could actually check an ideal dossier in 15-20 minutes – if the situation, despite the potentially increased risk, was controlled,” he said, noting that it usually took him longer.
According to the leak, among the clients Rabian approved was the Swiss company Radamant Finance AG, owned by father and son – Yuri and Alexey Khotinnatives of Belarus.
As Forbes magazine reported in 2019Khotins, which Russian media call “secret oligarchs”owned more than a million square meters of real estate in Moscow, including the Four Seasons Hotel.
Through Radamant, the Khotins owned the now defunct Russian Bank “Ugra”which, under their leadership, has grown from a small regional borrower into one of the largest financial institutions in the country.
In May 2016, after “successful checks,” Finaport top manager Helmut Schümperli was appointed head of Radamant. The leak included an unsigned shareholder resolution dated November 29, 2016, which authorized Shumperli to make 22 transfers worth $587 million from Radamant’s Ugra account to the Cyprus company Bittos Logtics Enterpres Ltd.
Journalists could not confirm whether the resolution was approved, however, judging by Radamant’s financial statements, payments were made – they were repeatedly discussed in internal correspondence.
The document states that the money related to “a transaction for the purchase and sale of promissory notes, but does not provide details.
As representatives of the Deposit Insurance Agency reported in a civil case in court, during the same period the Khotins allegedly withdrew over two billion euros from Ugra to Cypriot companies. The investigation is ongoing.
Journalists found no evidence that Finaport knew about the allegations against the Khotins when they processed the transfers to Bittos. But given the size and structure of the transactions, “it’s hard to make a business case for them,” according to Thom Mayne, an anti-corruption law researcher at the University of Oxford.
By mid-2017, it became clear that Ugra had serious financial problems.
In July, the Russian Central Bank announced that it had revoked the bank’s license. Reuters then reported that the Central Bank believed that the institution made “suspicious payments” and its “business model was built on issuing loans for projects associated with its owners.”
By September 2018, Ugra was declared bankrupt. However, Finaport continued to work with Radamant and, accordingly, with the Khotins until mid-2019.
Main says that the revocation of Ugra’s license, loans to owners and the financial collapse of the bank “should have been a signal to Finaport that transactions involving Ugra required special attention and increased control.”
A leaked document from 2018 showed that Finaport was preparing a deal in which Radamant would forgive Bittos’ debt in exchange for shares in three Cypriot companies.
On paper they were quite valuable. Their annual financial reports showed that they owned the rights to eight Russian oil fields worth billions of dollars. However, according to Rabian’s leaked letter, neither the Cypriot firms nor Hazapour Ltd. did not have their own accounts or funds.
The documents indicated that the companies bought the rights to oil fields for 129-131 euros in September and October 2018 – just when Ugra went bankrupt. The documents do not explain such a low price.
In another draft from the leak, Rabian expresses concerns about the legality of these companies, their assets and the deal itself: “We have made repeated requests, but have never received information about the economic viability of these businesses,” he wrote.
He noted that all participants in the deal are likely to be closely connected with the Khotins, and suggested that the businessmen themselves could be behind Hazapour and the Cypriot firms.
In July 2019, Finaport stopped collaborating with Radamant, however, judging by the leak, MROS did not notify MROS of suspicious activity. Rabian worked on the deal as part of the Streichenberg law firm until at least 2021. It is unknown whether the parties ultimately reached an agreement.
Finaport executives did not answer questions about specific clients, citing professional confidentiality. The Khotins did not respond to requests for comment.
Finaport client, who was accused of fraud in Russia, opened accounts in Switzerland using a second passport
A few months before the Russian Central Bank revoked Ugra’s license, it also revoked work permits issued to the businessman’s companies Alexandra Kondratenkova.
Two years later, in August 2019, the Ministry of Justice accused Kondratenkov of theft of funds — he allegedly organized an insurance fraud scheme. The investigation is ongoing. (Kondratenkov did not respond to requests for comment.) By the time Kondratenkov was charged, he had left the country. His current whereabouts are unknown.
The leak revealed that Finaport helped him open accounts in Switzerland using a Chilean passport.
In a document from October 2018, the Finaport employee responsible for Kondratenkov’s account explains that his client registered an account with UBP Bank using a Russian passport, and with Mirabaud – on a Chilean one, in the name of Alexander Garcia Feskov. (The letter stated that Kondratenkov’s Chilean identity was a combination of his father’s name, a native of Chile, and his mother’s maiden name.)
The leak showed that, with the help of Finaport, he withdrew several million dollars from Russia to Switzerland, and then to Mirabaud accounts registered to Garcia Feskov.
Judging by the files obtained by journalists, Finaport began working with Kondratenkov and helped him open accounts using Chilean documents before the media reported the accusations against him. However, by August 2019, the case received loud publicity in the Russian media. The Kommersant newspaper reported that Kondratenkov was accused of fraud on a “particularly large scale.”
This news appears to have worried Bank Mirabaud staff, and they blocked the $800,000 transfer on Kondratenkov’s behalf due to security concerns.
In November 2019, Finaport sent an explanatory letter to the bank. The company wrote that these news were published by Russian tabloids, and Kondratenkov did not own the company at the center of the scandal (this year a Russian court confirmed that Kondratenkov actually owned the company).
A knowledgeable source said on condition of anonymity that in mid-November, Mirabaud controllers sent a notification of suspicious transactions to the Swiss anti-money laundering regulator, and from January to March 2020, they closed all of Kondratenkov’s accounts.
As a former employee of the French anti-money laundering agency Tracfin said, after studying the findings of journalists, the fact that Kondratenkov uses different passports should have aroused suspicion among controllers even before the accusations.
“Although it is not prohibited to have two passports, it is highly suspicious for a person to have documents under two different names,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The trial in Kondratenkov’s case continues, and Russian authorities have put him on the wanted list. Russian media and American court documents reported that he had been in London and an upscale town in the French Alps since 2020.
The leak showed that Finaport classified Kondratenkov as a low-risk client until at least May 2020, long after the allegations against him became known. According to the files we received, in April 2022 the company was still working with his wife.
Rabian told reporters that Kondratenkov is no longer a client of Finaport. “Based on the information we found in open sources, we have doubts that the Russian criminal proceedings against Alexander Kondratenkov were conducted in accordance with the European Convention on Human Rights,” he added.
Among Finaport’s clients was the family of the head of Mosvodokanal
Among the most important clients of Finaport, judging by the volume of assets under management of the company, was Lyubov Komissarenko. Born in Ukraine in 1977, Komissarenko completed her studies in Moscow in the mid-2000s and immediately went into the construction business, including opening an installation company and a distributor of water supply equipment.
The document on Komissarenko, which was prepared in 2022 by Finaport’s compliance department, states that she was initially engaged in the production of windows, and later took out a loan from the bank to expand her activities.
They missed that her company also received contracts from the Russian state-owned company, which was headed by her lover Alexander Ponomarenko (not to be confused with his namesake – the sanctioned billionaire).
The dossier on Komissarenko for 2018, which was prepared for Finaport, states that he and Ponomarenko have been together since 2003. A lawyer representing one of her German companies said the couple separated several years ago. In 2012, Ponomarenko was appointed head of Mosvodokanal, Russia’s largest sewerage company, and Komissarenko subsequently received contracts worth millions of euros from her.
The lawyer of the German company Komissarenko said that these contracts did not bring her much profit, and she earned her fortune independently in the field of real estate and construction. Ponomarenko did not respond to requests for comment.
Komissarenko’s cooperation with Finaport began in 2014. Ponomarenko’s daughter, Natalya, became a client of the firm in December 2016, her husband in July 2017, and Komissarenko’s son from a previous marriage, Andrey, in December 2017. By the end of 2022, Finaport managed accounts linked to Ponomarenko with a total balance of $46 million (the official’s relatives did not respond to requests for comment).
Since the start of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, European banks have become even more cautious when dealing with Russian citizens and related entities.
As sanctions expert and expert witness in the German Parliament Victor Winkler told Paper Trail Media (OCCRP partner), it is “extremely dangerous” to open accounts for Russians or manage their assets.
According to him, the “corridor” in which such services are legal is “very, very narrow.” “This impossibly narrow corridor requires detailed and exhaustive inspections and numerous security measures.”
In October 2022, an employee of the Swiss bank Reyl sent questions to Finaport regarding missing information in the file on Komissarenko – in particular, about her connection with Ponomarenko. Attached to the letter is material which states that Ponomarenko “helps [Комиссаренко] receive government contracts.”
As the Reyl controller noted, Finaport did not indicate that Komissarenko has Russian citizenship. It is unclear from the leak what Finaport responded, or whether Reyl took any action. Finaport representatives declined to talk about specific clients. Reyl said it has “always complied and continues to comply with all relevant laws,” declining to comment further.
Apparently, Ponomarenko himself was not a client of Finaport. Mosvodokanal supports Russian aggression in Ukraine and even calls on its employees to go to the front.
IN videopublished on the social network VKontakte, it is said that Mosvodokanal employees who go to war will have their jobs secured and will also be provided with all the bonuses that are due to the military.