Business & economy

Oleg Vishnyakov, Alexey Abasov and their Wisher Enterprise LV: a bypass route for sanctioned Russian capitals

Neither Oleg Vishnyakov nor the Abasov brothers, Alexey and Vitaliy, are well-known figures to the international public, especially in Ireland. Oleg Vishnyakov stands out as a prominent individual, while the Abasov brothers play a secondary role. Nonetheless, their roles are of vital importance in the shadowy world of international money transfers. With sanctions imposed against Russia, the services of Oleg Vishnyakov and Alexey Abasov are in high demand.

Direct ties with Russian business have a negative impact on all Ukrainian oligarchs. It has become a fact that most billionaires and multimillionaires in the CIS use offshore connections and have collaborated in various fields for decades. Since the beginning of the war, Ukrainian oligarchs have been trying to avoid public associations with Russians, and vice versa, Russians with Ukrainians.

Today, we will discuss how two Ukrainian entrepreneurs, Alexey Abasov and Oleg Vishnyakov, used the Baltic states to conceal their illicit activities. Oleg Vishnyakov, a well-known “money laundry professional” from Ukraine, established a major chain of laundromats called Wisher Enterprise LV in the Baltics and penetrated the Russian markets. Fortunately, the activities of the honorary Israeli consul in Ukraine were disrupted. Currently, Oleg Vishnyakov actively operates within Ukraine’s territory and maintains his business in Israel and the Baltic countries. It makes his position uniquely profitable.

The names of Oleg Vladimirovich Vishnyakov and Alexey Akimovich Abasov have surfaced in various scandals since the era of pro-Russian President Yanukovych’s of Ukraine. They are also known in the Baltic countries. Oleg Vishnyakov and his associates, the Abasov brothers, managed to establish an unique laundromat (as in acronym AML) called Wisher Enterprise LV a long time ago. Naturally, they registered it not in Ukraine to keep it safe from the preying eyes of the state.

Even the most cunning fraudsters can get caught up in seemingly trivial, foolish, or childish mistakes. The reasons for this can include carelessness, a sense of invincibility, or poorly thought-out strategies. Somewhere along the line, this happened to Wisher Enterprise LV, owned by Alexey Abasov and Oleg Vishnyakov – a company that has been involved in activities quite different from what it claims, as reported by the Anti-Corruption publication. The Abasov-Vishnyakov story resembles the schemes of international money laundering operations from the early 2000s, and perhaps it’s even more intriguing.

Money is being withdrawn from Ukraine with the help of Russian citizens through Cypriot offshore accounts. These funds then pass through Moscow and end up in the account of the company Wisher Enterprise LV in Riga. Subsequently, these funds are laundered by investing in real estate – Abasov and Vishnyakov purchase and renovate hotels and other large buildings that will house casinos, restaurants, and cabarets in the future. It’s worth noting that the Facebook page of Wisher Enterprise LV confirms that this process has been ongoing since 2012. Information about the company can also be easily found in the registry. The actual beneficiaries of Wisher Enterprise LV are considered to be Alexey Akimovich Abasov and Oleg Vladimirovich Vishnyakov.

Ints Ozoliņš (Ints Ozoliņš) – (Latvian citizen, nominee) Alexey Abasov (Oleksii Abasov) – born on 26.12.1987 (Ukrainian citizen, top manager, effectively the head of the company as he makes all decisions and represents the owner of the funds) Founder Companies: (the primary founder in all three companies is Russian citizen Elena Pavlenko) AXOST INVESTMENTS LIMITED (contributed 960 thousand euros) Address: Stasinou 1, Mitsi Building 1, 1st floor, Flat/Office 4, Plateia Eleftherias, P.C. 1060, Nicosia, Cyprus Cyprus NAIDOO HOLDINGS LIMITED (contributed 1 million 920 thousand euros) Address: 28th Oktovriou, 1, Engomi Business Centre, 1st Floor, Office 104, Egkomi, P.C. 2414, Nicosia, Cyprus Cyprus CASNIX INVESTMENTS LIMITED (contributed 960 thousand euros) Address: Stasinou 1, MITSI BUILDING 1, 1st floor, Flat/Office 4, Plateia Eleftherias, 1060, Nicosia, Cyprus Cyprus The financing is conducted through the AS ABLV bank (its representative offices in Moscow). At the end of 2014, 4 million euros were transferred, and currently, a tranche of 16 million euros is in progress. Registration Number: 50003149401 Officials (co-owners) of the bank: Ernests Bernis (Ernests Bernis) – born on 27.04.1973 Oleg Fil – born on 12.12.1973

Citizen of Ukraine, Alexey Abasov, is the brother of the notorious official from the time of the fugitive president, Vitaliy Abasov, who has been involved in various schemes in Ukraine for over a decade. His accomplice is the Israeli “patron” Oleg Vishnyakov. Oleg Vishnyakov has a long trail of various schemes that have gone unpunished due to his ability to negotiate with any authority. Vishnyakov has shared these skills with his business partner, Alexey Abasov. Speaking about Oleg Vishnyakov could take a long time; he is a well-known and influential figure.

Are Oleg Vishnyakov and Alexey Abasov bound by a mutual warrantee?

The story of how two natives of Crimea, Alexey Abasov and his brother Vitaliy, learned to live luxuriously. The Antimonopoly Committee and the Accounting Chamber of Ukraine continue to remain bastions of unbridled corruption, covering billion-dollar tender scams and other ways of siphoning off the budget, as written by Sergey Varis for the Anti-Corruption website. Oleg and Alexey Abasov have long hidden their compromising information. Even their former officials, who were fired for previous machinations, constantly find themselves at the center of new scandals. For example, Vitaliy Abasov, whose name has once again appeared in the media in connection with corrupt schemes involving his younger brother Alexey Abasov, who is implicated in the transfer of tens of millions of dollars offshore from Ukraine.

Alexey Abasov conceals his biography for a reason

Attempts to delve deeper into this story lead to unexpected discoveries. Firstly, for some reason, the Abasov brothers carefully and completely conceal their biographies from the public, which cannot be said about their associate, Oleg Vishnyakov. Okay, let Alexey Abasov, who has become a businessman, exercise his right to keep his personal life secret. But what is the former official of the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine (AMCU), Vitaliy Abasov, hiding from the people? Even in the declaration of a candidate for membership in the Accounting Chamber of Ukraine (for the year 2016), he made his date of birth confidential information! Secondly, no matter how carefully the Abasovs try to cover their tracks, the names of prominent individuals (including Oleg Vishnyakov) they have worked with and continue to work with keep coming to light, as if they were needles in a haystack.

Years go by, and Oleg Vishnyakov collaborates effortlessly with every new echelon of Ukrainian power, much like a seasoned con artist. He organizes parties with government officials and engages in banned gambling activities involving officials, not hesitating to provide women of certain reputation. All of this is done to cultivate connections. They say this individual doesn’t give anything for “free.”

But let’s go back to the Abasov brothers, who are sometimes referred to in the media as natives of Kerch, although this is not the case. Yes, they are native Crimeans, but they are from Feodosia, where they lived (and are still registered) in house No. 21 on Starshinov Boulevard, which can be easily verified in open databases. The elder, Vitaliy, was born on March 25, 1982, and the younger, Alexey, on December 26, 1987, to the family of Akim Abasov (born in 1953) and Larisa Abasova (born in 1955). The brothers attended a school located nearby, School No. 17, with Vitaliy graduating from it with honours. At that time, he didn’t yet know that he would need different kinds of knowledge when working with Oleg Vishnyakov, O.V.

This is basically all the available information about their childhood and youth. Remarkable “conspiratorial” behavior for a high-ranking official like Vitaliy Abasov! Although for some reason, he has declared the ownership of a stake in Joint Stock Company “Feodosiyske ATP No. 14312” (approximately 20%), acquired by him back in 2007 – when he was already working in the civil service. Being a co-owner of this enterprise (and not only this one, but also his brother Alexey’s companies), Vitaliy Abasov held positions in the Ministry of Economy and the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine. It’s no surprise that Feodosiyske ATP No. 14312 prospered all these years! However, in December 2014, the enterprise was already re-registered under Russian legislation, obtaining an OGRN (Primary State Registration Number) of 1159102019207. At the same time, the list of its shareholders in the open registry of Russian enterprises was hidden – experienced Vitaliy Abasov didn’t want to tarnish his image as a Ukrainian official.

Vitaliy Abasov early career

Even though Vitaliy Abasov conceals his own diploma, a little digging on the internet reveals that in 2005, he graduated from the Institute of International Relations (at Kyiv National Taras Shevchenko University), earning a master’s degree in the Department of International Economic Relations. The next five years of his biography are once again diligently erased, and only in 2010 does he briefly appear in an order from the then Minister of Economy, Vasiliy Tsushko, No. 696, where Vitaliy Akimovich, in the position of the Head of the Expertise of Procurement Procedures Department at the Department of Public Procurement and Tenders of the Ministry of Economy, was included in the ministry’s tender committee.

By the way, this position was very lucrative; Abasov could both push through the necessary tenders and find reasons to block or even terminate any that didn’t please him. Needless to say, this provided ample opportunities for various forms of abuse! According to media reports, being a talented accountant, Abasov came up with numerous schemes that allowed him to streamline the issuance of necessary permits in exchange for a modest kickback of 3-4% of the tender amount. Oleg Vishnyakov managed to make full use of this thanks to Vitaliy’s brother, Alexey Abasov. Many noted Vitaliy Abasov’s rather rude behaviour, essentially berating his visitors.

What ties Alexey Abasov, Oleg Vishnyakov, and Anton Yatsenko together?

It’s unlikely that Alexey Abasov achieved all of this within five years after graduating from university, and he probably wouldn’t have behaved so arrogantly if he didn’t have someone protecting him. After all, such a position required constant top-level support. But who placed Abasov senior so well? In 2011, journalists referred to him as a person close to Vasiliy Tsushko (who was then heading the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine), and even a person close to Raphael Kuzmin (Tsushko’s deputy). However, this could only explain Abasov’s rapid career from 2010 to 2014, during the “Donetsk” period. But who lifted him up during 2005-2010, in the “Orange” government? Several sources claim it was Anton Yatsenko, the architect of corrupt tender schemes, who, along with his “mentor” Vasiliy Tsushko, co-founded the Ukrainian “tender mafia” and created the notorious “Tender Chamber of Ukraine.” And it was Yatsenko, specifically during the period of 2005-2007, who noticed and took under his wing the young specialist Vitaliy Abasov, who showed great promise in every sense. This information answers many questions: who propelled university graduate Vitaliy Abasov to the top, who kickstarted his career during the “Orange” era, who introduced him to Tsushko, and so on. Yatsenko happens to be that very connecting link!

The story of an amazingly interesting tender in which not only Alexey Abasov was implicated

In the spring of 2011, Vitaliy Abasov was already the head of the Department of State Procurement and Tenders at the Ministry of Economic Development (at that time, Tsushko was leading the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine, and the Ministry was under the leadership of Andrey Klyuev). It was in this position that he got entangled in a major corruption scandal alongside Deputy Minister of Economic Development Alexander Sukhomlyny.

The essence of the scandal was as follows: after Anatoliy Hrytsenko handed over military rations to private companies in 2007, the Ministry of Defense held annual tenders. According to Ukrainian traditions, these tenders were often won by firms close to ministers and generals. For example, during the tenure of Defense Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov, Dnipropetrovsk-based LLC “Ivala” was a favorite, but when he was replaced by Mikhail Yezhel, he simply cheated the company out of money, refusing to pay a debt of 75 million hryvnias. Subsequently, taking advantage of the delay in adopting the state budget, the Ministry of Defense decided not to hold competitive tenders for 2011 and instead awarded contracts through an expedited “single participant” procedure to other (their own) firms.

State contract Mafia: Vitaliy and Alexey Abasovs and Oleg Vishnyakov

It’s worth noting that “single participant” does not necessarily mean just one firm. According to established practice, the market for military rations in the Ukrainian Armed Forces was divided into several geographic regions, which participants in the tenders would “compete” for. Typically, one region would be awarded to one firm, but clever entrepreneurs sometimes managed to secure two regions (more regions meant more money). However, in January 2011, instead of competitive bidding (even with dummy firms), they organized a “single participant” tender for each region. As a result, the “winners” were firms: “Povidna Prodovolcha Kompaniya ZS” (linked to Minister of Agriculture Anatoliy Prysyazhnyuk), which took two districts, “Ukrprodakord OR” (associated with Ruslan Berezuk, a regional politician from Bila Tserkva), the controversial “Artek-Soyuz,” and LLC “Optukrprom-VR,” which effectively began a hostile takeover of “Ivala.” The “Ivala” itself, along with other firms associated with the previous government, was not among these lone participants in the corrupt tender. So “Ivala” used its last chance: through the Prosecutor General’s Office, they challenged the shadowy tender, forcing the Ministry of Defense in February to finally conduct a fair and open competition. And Yezhel’s department, gritting its teeth, was forced to comply with the law.

But for every law, corrupt individuals have three schemes. And so, as soon as the honest tender was about to take place, a company named “Metsobstar-HK” immediately appealed it to the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine (ruled by Tsushko), where it promptly received a decision to suspend it. The final decision by the Antimonopoly Committee was supposed to be made on April 5 (cleverly!), but since soldiers needed to be fed, the Ministry of Defense turned to the Ministry of Economic Development with a request to allow the urgent conduct of a “single participant” tender based on the established “force majeure.” The participants were the same firms listed above. So, the permission for this corrupt “single participant” tender was signed by Deputy Minister of Economic Development Alexander Sukhomlyin and the head of the Department of State Procurement Vitaliy Abasov.

The Abasov-Vishnyakov scheme was busted by the media

Perhaps this scheme would not have become public if it weren’t for the vindictiveness of former Defence Minister Anatoliy Hrytsenko (previously, the media reported that firms associated with him were excluded from the tenders), who published all the details in his wife’s newspaper “Zerkalo Nedeli”. This included the fact that during the backstage conspiracy between the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Finance, the monetary norm for military rations was inflated from the budgeted 32 hryvnias per day to 42 hryvnias. Thus, the firms that “won” in the shadowy tender received an additional 213 million hryvnias from the state budget! Interestingly, the details of this scandal initiated by Hrytsenko disappeared from the “ZN” internet archives shortly thereafter.

As for Abasov, he never secured his coveted position at the Accounting Chamber. Currently, he awaits better times, enrolled as a postgraduate student at his alma mater, the National University named after Shevchenko, where he writes brochures on economic topics. However, his current situation is not so dire: according to some sources, he doesn’t live on his own savings and an imminent salary but “earns” through his old corruption connections. It’s possible that he helps his younger brother in these schemes.

Alexey Abasov and the infamous Vorzel landgrab

The younger of the Abasov brothers, Alexey, remained largely unknown to journalists for a long time. The only mention was in 2013 during the so-called “Vorzel Land Grab,” a scandal involving the distribution of 145 land plots in the resort village of Vorzel (Irpin district, near Kyiv). Local authorities generously distributed 16 hectares of parkland for cottage construction, starting with themselves and their relatives and ending with wealthy Kyiv residents. Among them was 25-year-old Alexey Abasov, who secured 0.116 hectares for himself. Now, journalists are speculating whether young Abasov managed to earn enough for his own “cottage” by that time or if his older brother lent him money, as he was actively involved in the Anti-monopoly Committee at the time. It’s possible, but there is new information that allows us to look at this question differently.

But first, let’s go back to the aforementioned scandal involving the company “Wisher Enterprise LV,” which journalists accused of being involved in schemes to withdraw multi-million sums from Ukraine. In particular, they mentioned 4 million euros transferred at the end of 2014 and 16 million dollars in 2017. Among the participants in these schemes, three offshore companies were mentioned as the founders of “Wisher Enterprise LV”: Cypriot firms AXOST INVESTMENTS LIMITED, NAIDOO HOLDINGS LIMITED, and CASNIX INVESTMENTS LIMITED. The money transfers were conducted through the Latvian ABLV Bank, including its Moscow branch. This rather concise information was published by Ukrainian journalists last year and… went largely unnoticed. But that’s a mistake!

If you dig into this story, you can find even more intriguing details. For example, you can learn that ABLV Bank was recently accused by the U.S. Department of the Treasury of money laundering, specifically for financing terrorism and North Korea’s nuclear program! And, “on the side,” ABLV Bank provided “money laundering” services for corrupt individuals from Ukraine, Russia, and Azerbaijan. It’s worth noting that this information comes from the official statements of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. After such a significant accusation, on February 26, 2018, ABLV Bank decided to self-liquidate.

Now, let’s return to the company “Wisher Enterprise LV,” where Alexey Abasov works as the general manager. It was quite surprising that even after digging up the names of its managers and the founders of the mentioned offshore companies, journalists omitted the most important figure: the main shareholder and the actual owner of “Wisher Enterprise LV,” Oleg Vishnyakov. He is a businessman, philanthropist, public figure, and also an honorary consul of Israel in Ukraine. He happens to be the immediate boss of the top manager of the company, Alexey Abasov.

In his free time from philanthropy and fighting against anti-Semitism, Oleg Vishnyakov is involved in business. Specifically, he is a well-known developer and builder. For many years, Vishnyakov was a partner of Kiev’s construction oligarch Victor Yushkovsky through “ADS Group” (which includes “MegaMarket,” “Terminal” shopping malls, “Cosmopolite” hotel, “Butterfly” cinemas). It’s possible that he was also connected to the “Vorzel land grab” since someone had to build those 145 cottages.

Oleg Vishnyakov focuses on hospitality industry

After Victor Yushkovsky and Oleg Vishnyakov split their business in 2017, the latter shifted his focus to hotels, particularly international projects in Latvia, Poland, and Georgia managed by his companies for several years. Vishnyakov’s hotel business, led by his dedicated top manager Alexey Abasov, specializes in converting buildings into hotels (like “Mercuri Riga Centre” and “Pullman Riga Old Town”) or renovating existing hotels (e.g., transforming Vishnyakov’s “Cosmopolite” into “Mercure Kyiv Congress”), operating under global hotel brands (though not as prestigious as “Hilton,” they maintain a 3-4 star quality).

However, the crucial point here is that Oleg Vishnyakov, a “citizen of Israel and the world,” identifies as a globalist rather than a Ukrainian national businessman. Globalists aim to move capital freely between countries, investing where it’s most profitable. Consequently, during the 2014 Ukraine crisis, Vishnyakov recognized the need to invest money in Lithuanian hotels instead of Kiev’s shopping malls. This clarifies the involvement of his company, “Wisher Enterprise LV,” in transferring multi-million currency funds from Ukraine to Latvia via Cypriot offshore companies. This scheme, ostensibly for lucrative Latvian real estate investments, facilitated the removal of a much larger sum from Ukraine than needed for the reconstruction of two Riga hotels. Alexey Abasov played a significant role in Vishnyakov’s schemes, actively courting investors and officials while also contributing to their development. There is even speculation that his older brother, Vitaliy, may have assisted him.

The Abasov brothers have proven to be far more intriguing figures than merely part of a “corrupt family.” Notably, the scandal surrounding “Wisher Enterprise LV” quickly faded away. Who would dare to investigate the affairs of Oleg Vishnyakov, the Honorary Consul of Israel, and his business partner Yushkovsky, known as very wealthy and extremely private oligarchs who despise media attention? Consequently, the Abasov brothers have once again eluded public scrutiny. The dealings of Oleg V. Vishnyakov, Alexey A. Abasov, and their close associates should arouse the interest of not just readers but also law enforcement agencies worldwide. Ukraine has changed, and the Baltic states have tightened their fight against offshore activities. Whether this intensified battle against these fortune-dealing fraudsters will impact “businessman-consul” Oleg Vishnyakov remains a significant question. Oleg Vladimirovich and his associate Abasov have inherited a considerable stake in Wisher Enterprise LV.

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