Connected with Eliminalia surrogate motherhood agencies are suspected of organizing fictitious marriages, falsifying documents to smuggle babies from Ukraine and trafficking in children, the investigation says OCCRPwrites grom-ua.
Diego Jimenez Sanchez, owner of the reputation laundering agency Eliminalia, owns stakes in several agencies surrogacy in Ukraine. Another co-owner was Spaniard Jose Maria Il Prados, a pedophile convicted of sexually abusing Sanchez and his sister. According to Ukrainian police, surrogacy agencies traded babies, handed over other people’s children to clients, and lied to potential parents about their options.
In July 2021, Diego Jimenez Sanchez married a colleague. The wedding was luxurious, like a celebrity. The ceremony took place in the garden of a country villa south of Kyiv. The couple took their vows while standing on a platform decorated with flowers and delicate pink Art Deco arches. All night the guests had fun at the celebration, where the Ukrainian TV star was the host.
Among the guests was a man named José María Il Prados, a Spanish pedophile who was convicted 14 years ago of sexually assaulting Sanchez. He not only attended the wedding, but also sat at the groom’s table.
Sanchez’s autobiography says that he was introduced to Il Prados by a volunteer at an orphanage: when Sanchez was a teenager, he often ran there to play on the computer if everything was not going smoothly at home. Il Prados was convicted for the molestation of Sanchez and his sister, as well as for the production of child pornography.
In 2007, he was sentenced to eight years in a Spanish prison. But the following year, Sanchez retracted his testimony, saying police forced him to press charges after being caught shoplifting. (Il Prados tried to appeal the verdict, but the court refused him).
When Il Prados was released, he and his former victim went into business together.
Sanchez founded Subrogalia in Spain in 2013, according to corporate filings, to help couples who were unable to conceive find surrogates. Shortly after Il Prados was released from prison, his adopted son became the owner of another Subrogalia in Ukraine. Later, Il Prados received a majority stake in her, and one of the Ukrainian employees told OCCRP that he always considered him his boss.
But soon the businesses were accused of child trafficking. Reporters learned that Subrogalia was under investigation in at least two countries. The company was suspected of trading babies and giving desperate couples babies who were not their biological children.
“It is outrageous that a convicted sex offender is allowed to work in such a sensitive area as gestational surrogacy, which relies on the exploitation of low-income women,” said Nina Potarskaya, coordinator of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in Ukraine. “Given the history of this phenomenon, it is not surprising that there are allegations of violations such as child trafficking.”
Subrogalia is part of the Sánchez and Il Prados network of companies, which spans nine countries. Among these companies is Eliminalia, which deals with reputation management. The company used threats and fake news, and its employees posed as European Union officials to cover up the shady backgrounds of clients, many of whom were criminals.
It seems that Il Prados used the same tricks as Eliminalia: to hide his past, he ruled articles with criticism or overloaded search engines with extraneous content that mentioned his name. Google seems to have de-indexed a lot of this content. But if you type Il Prados’s name into Bing, you’ll see about a million results on fake news sites. Some of the links point to resources apparently run by a Venezuelan who runs a reputation management company. And nowhere is the term for child molestation mentioned.
However, Prados was written about in the newspapers. In 2016, Spanish publication El Confidencial reported that a 17-year-old boy who worked for Sanchez’s music company accused Il Prados of harassment.
In an interview with an online publication, Sanchez denied the allegations, but said of Il Prados: “Everyone knows that he likes boys.”
Il Prados, Sanchez and Subrogalia did not respond to requests for comment. Eliminalia’s lawyers declined to comment.
subrogalia. Family business
Il Prados founded Subrogalia in Ukraine in 2015 as the country has liberal surrogacy laws. Before the Russian invasion, about 2,000 babies were born annually to Ukrainian surrogate mothers, the country was one of the world’s centers of gestational surrogacy.
Sanchez has publicly stated that he owns Subrogalia, but judging by corporate documents, in fact, Il Prados owns a controlling stake in the Ukrainian enterprise. When El Confidencial reporters asked Sánchez why he agreed to become a figurehead, he replied that it was a personal favor “because I ruined the life of Il Prados and his family.”
Also, the investors of the Ukrainian Subrogalia were the sons of Il Prados Andrey and Alan: both hold minority stakes in the company and hold leadership positions.
Andrei and Alan are the older of two pairs of brothers whom Il Prados adopted in Russia in the 1990s through the charitable organization Parents Forever he founded. Within a few years, all four boys accused Il Prados of sexual abuse, and he was deprived of custody, although due to procedural violations, the case was not given. Like Sanchez, all four later dropped the charges. The brothers did not respond to a request for comment.
Like Il Prados, Andrei and Alan sat at Sanchez’s table at the wedding. Il Prados was listed as “Diego” on the seating plan, but facial recognition video analysis confirmed that it was him.
It seems that after leaving prison, Il Prados officially changed his name to Diego. Judging by corporate documents, to register Subrogalia in Ukraine, he used a Spanish identity card in a new name, but journalists also found a previous document in the name of José Maria.
Perhaps Il Prados changed his name before registering Subrogalia to hide his criminal past. Industry expert Maria Dmitrieva said Ukrainian laws do not prohibit a sex offender from owning a surrogacy agency. “The whole industry is regulated by two paragraphs of the law and two ministerial directives,” she said.
Over time, Subrogalia expanded and began operating in Russia and Greece. For a while, the company operated in Mexico. But the main work continued in Ukraine: according to a former employee, before the war, Ukrainian women gave birth to about a hundred children a year for clients, each child brought about 8,000 euros to the agency.
The company soon ran into legal trouble in both Western and Eastern Europe.
In 2016, a year after Subrogalia was founded in Spain, a court ordered the company to pay 88,000 euros to two pairs of prospective parents for “serious and flagrant” breaches of contract.
It turned out that Subrogalia misled the parents and deceived them about their capabilities, but the clients never received the promised child. One of the victims told Spanish media that her mother mortgaged the house to pay for the procedure. “How to tell a grandmother who got into debt that she will not become a grandmother?” she lamented.
In an apparent effort to distance itself from the scandal, in 2017 the Ukrainian Subrogalia changed its name to Eurosurrogacy, and Gestlife appeared in Spain instead of Subrogalia. But this was not enough to confuse law enforcement officials.
In 2018, the Ukrainian police launched an investigation into BioTexCom, a partner of Eurosurrogacy. BioTexCom, one of the largest IVF clinic networks in the world, serves approximately 95 percent of Spanish Eurosurrogacy clients.
BioTexCom employees were accused of being part of a “criminal gang” that used surrogacy programs as a front for child trafficking. According to the prosecutor’s office, they helped “foreign citizens to make illegal transactions involving minors”, which is tantamount to “trafficking in children for a monetary reward.”
One of the accomplices was named Eurosurrogacy, and as a result, the company’s bank accounts were frozen. The investigation is ongoing.
“To date, criminal proceedings have been suspended, no legal proceedings have been carried out since 2019,” BioTexCom said in a statement. It also says that the investigation did not reveal the facts of the birth of babies who are not genetically related to the ordering parents.
Il Prados did not respond to questions about the Eurosurrogacy investigation. BioTexCom said that at the beginning of the cooperation they did not know about his criminal past, and upon learning, they suspended the joint work.
In 2017, Sanchez opened his own IVF clinic in Ukraine called InterFiv. In 2021, one of the sons of Il Prados became her beneficial owner. A few weeks before Sanchez’s wedding, Ukrainian law enforcement officers searched the offices of InterFiv in Kyiv.
Law enforcement authorities suspected InterFiv of human trafficking, among other things, the company was accused of handing over other people’s children to parents. In addition, InterFiv allegedly arranged fictitious marriages and forged documents in order to illegally take children out of Ukraine.
Neither Sanchez, nor Il Prados, nor any of their relatives were charged. In February 2022, the court extended the investigation for a year. A week later, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine thwarted the proceedings.
The police said the investigation is ongoing. A source in the Ukrainian Security Service said they had found evidence to support the allegations and that InterFiv would be prosecuted when the legal system was back up and running. But when that will happen is unclear.
Sanchez and Il Prados abandoned InterFiv and founded a new company, InterEko, to manage the clinic in Kyiv.
But even here there were problems with the law. In November 2022, a representative of Subrogalia in Russia was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for human trafficking. He was found guilty of selling a child abandoned by a Spanish couple to another Spanish woman.