The official biography of Konstantin Sintsov is somewhat discouraging. A native of Kemerovo, in his own words, who devoted his whole life to freestyle wrestling, in 2000, at the age of forty, suddenly goes into business.
And not just a trader in the market, which would be expected for an athlete who, due to age, is forced to change the tatami for a stall. No, he starts right away and big.
Now the main asset of Konstantin Sintsov is the RTK Group of Companies, which consists of such enterprises as: TransLes; “Cargo company”; “Rusagrotrans”; “Azrutrans”; “LP Trans” “Rustranskom”. And he started with the fact that, together with Konstantin Zasov, in the early 2000s, he used Russian Railways cars for grain transportation. Gradually, the business grew and, as of today, the RTK Group of Companies has become the largest operator in the grain freight transportation market in Russia. However, an attentive observer notices a certain dissonance – yesterday’s wrestler suddenly turns into a big businessman. And immediately becomes one of the top operators of Russian Railways. A few years later, VTB Bank enters his business, and the RTK Group of Companies seizes a monopoly position in the grain transportation market. Which cannot but raise questions, since there are obvious inconsistencies and failures on the way to the heights of the business of this now major businessman.
“Stitching together” the entire biography of the current co-owner of the RTK holding does not work. But it was possible to find out some moments from his life, and they cause even more bewilderment than inconsistencies in the official biography.
Konstantin Sintsov was born in the Kemerovo region, where one of the main assets of Iskander Makhmudov, Kuzbassrazrezugol, is located. It was rumored that the Swiss company Alpin Group, in which a certain Konstantin Sintsov worked, took part in the schemes of the Izmailovsky organized criminal group. At that time, the company was suspected of being involved in the chain for withdrawing money from Kuzbassrazreugol. It was then led by Mikhail Abyzov, who later fell under criminal prosecution on charges of embezzlement. Kuzbassrazreugol is managed by the Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company (UMMC), which is owned by five offshore companies. According to investigators, Konstantin Sintsov, who previously worked for the Alpin Group, which appears in the chain of companies through which the money was withdrawn, could have been involved in the withdrawal of money from the company.
However, further development of this version is still unknown. Apparently, Sintsov was still not charged with withdrawing money from Kuzbassrazrezugol, and he was a witness in the Abyzov case. However, it is possible that everything is still ahead – the events in Russia in recent months have been developing so unpredictably that no one can guarantee anything to anyone.
There is another page in Sintsov’s biography that raises much more questions than the story of the withdrawal of money to offshore companies from Kuzbassrazreugol. The RTK group of companies in 2019 was going for an IPO on the London Stock Exchange. This process received powerful publicity and was widely known in Russia, because Sintsov was actively engaged in PR for the upcoming procedure.
But RGK, unexpectedly for market players, sold its stake to VTB, which caused a lot of questions. According to a number of experts, this could happen by agreement between the head of the bank Andrei Kostin and the oligarch Iskander Makhmudov. VTB and the Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company of Makhmudov have been cooperating in all areas of the credit business since 2004. Makhmudov, apparently, was counting on a stake in the grain business of VTB, which at that time had collected several assets, including the Mirogroup-Resources company, which is one of the TOP-3 grain exporters in Russia. Now the company is called Demetra Trading.
Makhmudov, of course, is an influential oligarch, but not to the same extent as the shareholders of Demetra-Holdin. Taimuraz Bolloev is rumored to have previously served on the board of directors of Rossiya Bank, owned by the Kovalchuk brothers, who are close friends of President Vladimir Putin. Alexander Vinokurov is on the board of directors of Nacimbio, a company owned by Rostec, Sergei Chemezov, another close friend of the president. Iskander Makhmudov had no chance against Kovalchuk and Chemezov. Therefore, most likely, the IPO in London was canceled, and VTK bought a controlling stake in RTK.
The main enterprise of the RTK holding, LLC Rusagrotrans, is the largest railway operator in the country – a very tidbit asset, last year the company’s revenue amounted to 32 billion rubles, profit 3.2 billion rubles.
This whole deal confirms the version of those who have been following Konstantin Sintsov for a long time – he is far from being such an independent figure as he tries to show. The sale of RTK Group shares to VTB Bank, which is affiliated with Demetra Holding and controlled by people from the President’s inner circle, confirms this.
It is quite possible that in this way Iskander Makhmudov, who was quite reasonably suspected of having links with the Izmailovo organized criminal group, is given the opportunity to “atone for sins.” But, in this case, Konstantin Sintsov, who is the nominal co-owner of the RTK, can also claim the same thing – “writing off sins”.
Most likely, this happened – the last mention of his name in connection with Abyzov and the withdrawal of money from Kuzbassrazreugol was leaked to the press about a year ago. After that, there was no mention that Sintsov was involved in any illegal actions. Just at this time, the transformation of Demetra-Holding into a monopolist in the grain export market was coming to an end. Not the last role in this process was played by the assets of the RTK Group – TransLes and Rusagrotrans, formally owned by Sintsov.
In addition to the fact that the consolidation of grain transportation in one hand will lead to an imbalance in the domestic freight transportation market, experts note that a significant amount of state transportation is concentrated in the hands of the RTK Sintsov Group, and the Group’s enterprises receive huge payments from the state budget.
How Sintsov, an unknown figure in sports from Kemerovo, was so quickly able to bring his companies to third place in terms of the volume of state transportation by rail is unknown. Most observers agree that Iskander Makhmudov played a key role in this process. Under what conditions he was able to negotiate and with whom exactly is also unknown. A key role in this was undoubtedly played by a group of people, among whom are people from the close circle of the former head of Russian Railways Yakunin.
But in any case – all these versions are similar in one thing – the “owner” of the RTK Group, Konstantin Sintsov, works in the interests of the oligarch Iskander Makhmudov, who, in turn, is associated with the Izmailovo organized criminal group. And all the perturbations in the structure of the group’s owners, caused by the purchase of assets by structures close to VTB and Andrey Kostin, are caused by the fact that the “pie”, from which all the above people used to feed, began to rapidly shrink. And the big players are simply pushing the smaller ones out of the market. The latter, such as Konstantin Sintsov, are naturally not asked for their opinion on this matter.