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Igor Makarov: A Criminal? (2024)


Among the billionaires and politicians with connections to the Russian government on a list published by the US Department of the Treasury in 2017 was Igor Makarov, who made his fortune from the selling of Russian gas.  But first, some background on Igor Makarov is necessary before we can continue with his research.

An Overview – Igor Makarov

Igor Makarov is a well-known, multifaceted individual with a broad range of expertise spanning the sports of professional cycling, the global cycling community, and business. 

Each of these domains has been a part of his career. When Makarov was born on April 5, 1962, Ashkhabad was a part of both the Soviet Union and the Turkmen SSR. Formerly known as ITERA International Group, ARETI International Group is currently led by him as president.

Makarov had a stellar career as an accomplished rider and was a member of the Soviet Union’s national cycling team before his successful venture into the corporate sector. His cycling achievements not only made him a respected figure in the sports world but also bolstered the strong reputation he has established for himself. 

Igor Makarov entered the sports business in a different role following the conclusion of his professional cycling career.

Igor Makarov is well-known for funding global cycling competitions and events. His contributions have improved and encouraged cycling throughout the world. Makarov has been on the UCI Management Committee since 2011 as a result of his work. His involvement with cycling’s global governing organization, the UCI, has influenced the sport’s development.

Makarov’s achievements in cycling and business are well-known. His financial success is evidenced by Forbes, which valued his net worth as of March 2023 at $2.2 billion. This suggests that he ran multiple profitable firms as a successful entrepreneur.

Igor Makarov gave up his Russian citizenship to become a Cypriot in the summer of 2023. A change in citizenship is a personal matter that is neutral.

On September 26, 2022, Makarov was subject to sanctions by the UK. These limitations resulted from the Russo-Ukrainian War. The consequences of the punishments, albeit not explained in the material, had an impact on Makarov’s personal and professional life.

Igor Makarov led an honorable life overall. His achievements in business, professional riding, and global cycling community initiatives define his public persona. Significant events in his life, such as his relocation from Russia to Cyprus and the sanctions imposed by the UK government—possibly as a result of the Russo-Ukrainian War—should not be seen negatively.

Charges Against Igor Makarov: Evidence Pointing to His Fraud

The Pandora Papers: An Inquiry

A law requiring registered agents to run background checks on their clients and disclose any questionable financial transactions was introduced by members of the House of Representatives in October, representing both political parties. 

Legislators devised the Enablers Act after the publication of the Pandora Papers, the product of an international investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), The Washington Post, and other members of the media. 

This was carried out in reaction to the investigation’s findings, which showed how the world’s wealthiest people hide their fortune from tax officials, criminal probes, and public accountability.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has given the issue greater urgency, obliging other countries to look into and seize the assets of billionaires connected to Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

Not long after the war began on February 24, a group of specialists urged Congress to enact the Enablers Act and take additional measures. They cited information from the Pandora Papers revealing that Russian millionaire Igor Makarov used an LLC and trust in Wyoming to covertly own property and a 13-seat private jet. 

Through his lawyer, Igor Makarov has already highlighted that he has no personal ties to Putin and that the confidence was duly declared.

“A number of these states haven’t done enough to take steps to make sure that the United States of America is not the biggest destination for illicit funds in the world,” stated 

One of the bill’s main supporters is Representative Tom Malinowski (D-New Jersey). “If they had been performing what they did, we wouldn’t have had to act in this area.”

In a Western town famed for its honky-tonk saloon and tourist attraction, attorneys offer unique financing arrangements called the “Cowboy Cocktail.” This unique financial plan is based on a combination of a Wyoming trust and private corporations whose ownership is kept hidden, taking advantage of Wyoming’s strict privacy laws and lax regulatory oversight.

Across the world, billionaires and millionaires have expressed interest in this specific financial structure. Due to affluent people shifting their financial assets from major international financial centers to the state’s mining communities and ski resorts, Wyoming has emerged as one of the world’s most well-known tax havens. These families originate from nations like Venezuela, Italy, and India.

The financial activities of twelve foreign clients who had established trusts in Wyoming were made public by the more than 11.9 million papers known as the Pandora Papers. Notable instances include the Russian millionaire Igor Makarov, the Argentinean Baggio family, and the late Dominican Republic resident Kalil Haché Malkn.

Rich people can transfer and use their money with an unprecedented level of confidentiality thanks to the combination of these Wyoming trusts and layers of private organizations. To maintain more discretion, these managers frequently work for unregulated private trust companies. The owners of a trust appoint independent administrators to administer its assets.

Wyoming has been a pioneer in the development and expansion of its trust industry for many years. Legislators at the state level have responded by passing numerous laws designed to encourage this growth. 

However because politicians failed to account for the potential inflow of foreign wealth from foreign sources, including foreign oligarchs and dictators, the expected tax revenue from this enterprise has not materialized.

Based on the idea that trusts allow individuals to protect their assets from creditors and lower their taxable income, the trust industry in Wyoming was established. One of the things that makes Wyoming unique is the ability to place a private corporation under a trust. 

The fact that family members run these businesses frequently contributes to the process’s obscurity. A degree of concealment that is hard to find in other tax havens is provided by this so-called “Cowboy Cocktail” tactic.

Residents of Wyoming can choose to cooperate with unregulated or licensed private trust companies, the latter offering even higher levels of anonymity. Unlike the regulated alternative, which is overseen by the government, the unregulated option is not. The purpose of the regulated option is to help families avoid unanticipated tax issues and attention.

Despite calls for greater openness and regulation, Wyoming’s trust industry has expanded significantly in recent years. Thanks to its asset management organization, which currently manages over $31.5 billion in assets, Wyoming has emerged as one of the most sought-after trust jurisdictions globally. 

Due to Wyoming’s financial incentives and privacy laws, firms from all over the world have come to the state; in fact, international trust companies have started marketing Wyoming as a preferred tax haven destination.

Most of the trades from 2016 to 2019 are disclosed in the Pandora Papers. Celebrities such as Igor Makarov managed their wealth through Wyoming trusts, sometimes with the assistance of offshore firms for concealment.

The European Parliament lists Delaware, Nevada, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Alaska as centers of corporate and economic secrecy. Legislators are considering significant anti-money laundering regulatory changes to prevent suspicious payments from entering the American banking system.

The state’s privacy laws often kept regulators in the dark, even though legislators in Wyoming desired a clean industry that protected the privacy of trustworthy clients. The primary sources of reliable industry client information are dwindling to media reports and occasional tips.

Lastly, wealthy foreigners find Wyoming to be a global tax haven due to its distinctive financial architecture and stringent privacy laws. The state’s economy has not profited from the rise of the trust industry, and calls for stronger regulation and oversight are growing.

Igor Makarov’s U.S. Penalties

In 2018, there were rumors of US penalties against businessman Makarov. Makarov joined Putin’s business delegation following Russia’s incursion into Ukraine in 2007. To assess Makarov’s likelihood of receiving a fine and look into his financial affairs, Clifford Karchmer was brought in.

Karchmer’s 2018 report claims that Makarov, a native of Russia, is a leader in the energy sector. ITERA referred to Makarov as a “Putin-era oligarch” following its swift expansion throughout the former Soviet Union. While the investigation accepted that certain attacks on Makarov’s reputation may have been motivated by political or commercial disputes, it also brought up factual issues regarding possibly tense relationships and economic activity.

Makarov brought in Karchmer following his designation as one of the 96 Russian oligarchs by the U.S. Treasury in 2018. It was a replica of the 2017 billionaires list published by Forbes Magazine. After Karchmer’s team examined Makarov’s financial and public records and discovered no wrongdoing, he was allowed to remain in the United States.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine in April 2022 led to sanctions against Makarov by Australia and Canada. While Makarov was unlikely to face sanctions in the United States, Karchmer believed that many other wealthy individuals may. He pointed out the lack of evidence and proposed Makarov’s sanctioning by Canada in protest of billionaires involved in the incursion into Ukraine.

Regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, I-TEAM contacted Makarov’s delegates, but he declined.

Makarov was asked to join a trade mission by Putin, according to Karchmer, who disputes that Makarov went looking for Putin. To stay in his job, Makarov reportedly accompanied Putin on the operation before Russia was sanctioned because those who lost favor with Putin were afraid of facing criminal charges or even death.

Additional Allegations Made Against Igor Makarov

Without undergoing the necessary regulatory scrutiny, Russian energy millionaire Igor Makarov acquired a majority stake in Spartan Delta, a Canadian oil and gas company. 

This purchase revealed a deficiency in the regulatory oversight that occurs in Canada between federal and local agencies. 

Because the deal was structured as an exempt take-over offer, potential bidders were excluded from having to disclose their transactions. This made it possible for Makarov’s firm to merge Inception Exploration, a northern Alberta-based oil sands company, with Spartan Delta.

The Alberta Securities Commission (ASC) declined to pursue regulatory action against Makarov for payments, money laundering, and involvement in a long-running dispute involving the former prime minister of Ukraine in a federal court in the United States. Makarov was charged by the US with offering bribes to Pavel Lazarenko, the former prime minister of Ukraine, in exchange for having the sole right to sell gas in that country. Around $250 million that had been hidden away in offshore bank accounts was the target of the lawsuit, and Makarov was thought to be involved in complex money laundering schemes.

It was alleged that Makarov and other people had directly benefited from these money-laundering operations, even though he was not included as a defendant in the action filed in the United States. 

Lazarenko was the prime minister of Ukraine until 1997. He was accused of money laundering and was first imprisoned in Switzerland. He was then sentenced to nine years in jail in the United States. Lazarenko was found guilty after receiving a nine-year sentence in the US. Because of this instance, concerns have been raised about Canada’s lax regulations, which leave the nation vulnerable to money laundering.

Makarov sold more than half of his Spartan Delta shares to an unidentified third party in 2022 after Russia invaded Ukraine for $121 million, just before he was sanctioned by the Canadian government for his involvement in the war. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other federal authorities were unable to provide any answers regarding Makarov’s penalty and the transactions with Spartan Delta.

This case highlights both Canada’s attraction to those wishing to clean up their dirty money and what many perceive to be the country’s regulatory laxity on offshore assets. 

Makarov employed companies registered in Cyprus in the Spartan Delta deal, which was in line with dubious investment methods. Former Soviet cycling champion Makarov began constructing his gas empire in Turkmenistan in 1992 and has since spread it over the globe.

Makarov’s company, Itera International, had acquired a significant portion of Gazprom’s operations in Ukraine and other former Soviet regions. This revelation led to questions about why Gazprom gave Itera International this benefit. 

The legal representatives of Gazprom argued that the civil forfeiture case was motivated by the political situation in the United States. In response to inquiries regarding the issue, the governments of Russia and Ukraine both remained silent.

Makarov is credited with consolidating his oil and gas reserves in Alberta by employing an exempt take-over bid as a share acquisition method. The investors did not need to provide much information to use this strategy. The Alberta Securities Commission didn’t need to take part in these transactions; instead, it was free to decline.

Inception Exploration was a small oil sands company that Makarov and a few other executives joined as directors in 2016. Makarov’s involvement in the Albertan oil industry started at this point. Thanks to a deal struck by private investors, Makarov was able to purchase a 21% stake in Spartan Delta in 2021. Through share exchange, Spartan Delta was able to purchase the Montney property, which was owned by Inception Exploration.

Makarov acquired a stake in Spartan Delta through a series of cash and share transactions that totaled $148 million. The interests in Spartan Delta owned by Makarov and Areti were transferred to the Cyprus-based Areti International Group in July 2021. 

In this transaction, entities related to the ongoing civil forfeiture action in the United States were involved. The latter company, Spartan Delta, became the dominant producer in the Montney oil sands after acquiring Velvet Energy in the same month. 

The ASC stated that issues about money laundering fell under the purview of the federal government when asked if they were concerned about directors who were reportedly connected to bribery and accusations of money laundering. This case highlights the need for increased monitoring and how complicated it is to regulate foreign investments in Canada.

UK censures Russia for its illicit cooperation in the referendum

The UK has imposed several sanctions in response to the illegal phony referendums that the Russian authorities staged in Ukraine. Senior Russian officials who carried out the illegitimate voting in four regions of Ukraine have also been sanctioned, along with “Putin’s favorite PR agency”. 

Sanctions also applied to oligarchs, whose combined wealth was estimated to be worth £6.3 billion worldwide, and board directors of major state-owned companies. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom today (September 26) announced 92 penalties against Russia in response to the Russian regime’s imposition of phony referendums in four different areas of Ukraine, which is a flagrant violation of international law and the UN charter.

In a desperate attempt to take land and justify their war that isn’t justifiable, the Russian government has created these fake referendums. This process is a replica of their 2014 Crimean plan, which included disinformation, intimidation, and manufactured results. 

The aforementioned referendums represent a serious violation of both Ukraine’s political independence and territorial integrity since they do not represent the demonstrated will of the Ukrainian people.

James Cleverly, the Foreign Secretary, said the following:

The results of fake referendums held under the threat of physical force will never be accepted by us because they can never be free or fair. They follow a well-established pattern of using force, intimidation, torture, and forcible deportations in the areas of Ukraine that Russia currently controls.

The penalties being enforced today will target those who are accountable for these forged ballots as well as those who support the harsh war being waged by the Russian regime. Our support for the Ukrainian people will last as long as it takes them to regain their independence. We stand in solidarity with them.

To conduct these fictitious referendums, the Russian government dispatched agents and collaborators to each of these temporarily under-control districts; as of right now, 33 of these individuals are facing sanctions. They are as follows:

Currently, Sergei Yeliseyev holds the positions of Head of Government of Kherson and Vice Admiral in the Russian Navy. The Russian government just created this position. Yeliseyev has been attempting to erode Ukraine’s independence ever since he abandoned the Ukrainian Navy in 2014.

The Minister of Science and Education of the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic is Ivan Kusov. Kusov has been tasked with “helping our educational institutions to seamlessly blend in the educational system of Russia” by LPR chief Pasechnik. The position held by Kusov is “Minister of Education and Science.”

The head of Zaporizhzhia’s “government,” imposed by Russia, is Yevhen Balytskyi. He has been openly endorsing the Russian invasion of Ukraine since March, expressing his satisfaction with the operation through his words. The so-called Donetsk People’s Republic’s deputy chairman, Evgeniy Solntsev, and IMA Consulting—dubbed “Putin’s favorite PR firm”—have also been approved. 

It is thought that in August, Balytskyi signed an order allowing Zaporizhzhia to hold a referendum on joining the Russian Federation. Reportedly, the contract for coordinating the public campaigns for these fraudulent referendums has been awarded to IMA. In addition to promoting its fictitious validity in Russia, this will enable IMA to assist in the implementation of these referendums inside the four regions that are currently governed by Russia.

Additionally sanctioned is the security papers company Goznak, which is well-known for having a monopoly on producing “tens of millions” of official documents, including expedited passports, in the temporarily controlled zone. Goznak is on a do-not list.

Putin still relies on a few groups of oligarchs and elites to fund his war endeavors. Many other wealthy people were also involved in businesses that the Russian government considered strategically important during the period that Russia was trying to destabilize Ukraine. 

Today, four more people—oligarchs and high-net-worth individuals alike—were sanctioned for their involvement in strategically significant areas and for supporting or benefiting from the Russian government. It is estimated that the combined net wealth of these four persons globally is 6.3 billion pounds. These consist of the following:

Zarakh Iliev and God Nisanov dubbed the “Kings of Russian real estate,” are worth a combined $2 billion on a global scale. Collectively, they are the owners and operators of the Kievskaya Ploshchad Group, a major Russian construction company.

The founder of Ural Mining and Metallurgic Company, Iskander Makhmudov, is also its current president. Makhmudov is a well-known metals magnate whose global net worth is estimated to be £2.7 billion.

ARETI International Group, a well-known investor in the oil and gas industry, is owned and operated by Igor Makarov. In addition, he founded Itera, the country’s first privately held gas company until the state-owned Rosneft bought it. Makarov is thought to be worth 1.6 billion pounds.

Furthermore, the package of today includes 55 board members who are affiliated with state-run businesses that still provide funding to the Russian military apparatus. Board members from companies that keep funding the Russian military machine are included in this, which acts as a stark reminder of the price of supporting Putin’s operations. The ensuing have been sanctioned:

There are 23 members of Gazprombank’s management board and board of directors.

Ten representatives of Sovcombank, comprising the Deputy Chairman of the bank, members of the Supervision Board, and members of the Management Board, and sixteen directors from the executive, supervisory, and other boards of Sberbank.

The UK would never accept the results of any rigged referendums or attempts to acquire the sovereign territory of Ukraine. The people of Ukraine decisively voted in 1991 in favor of leaving the Soviet Union. They have unwaveringly refused Russian attack since then, demonstrating their will to keep their status as an independent sovereign state.

The US and its other international partners are vehemently denouncing the despicable actions committed by the Russian regime. We will keep working with our friends to pursue targeted sanctions against Russia because we are committed to keeping up the political and economic pressure on it.

More than 1,200 individuals and more than 120 companies are currently under sanctions in the UK. These include more than 120 oligarchs who are thought to have a combined global net worth of more than £130 billion.

Igor Makarov: Russian Billionaire Abandons Ukrainian Citizenship

Russia’s richest man, Igor Makarov, has given up his citizenship in the wake of the crisis in Ukraine and the controversy surrounding the “golden passport.”

Igor Makarov, a Russian millionaire, has made the vital option to surrender his Russian citizenship during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia was invading Ukraine when this decision was reached. 

This decision was made due to the growing tensions between the two nations; Forbes was the first to report on it earlier this year. It added his name to the growing list of those who have severed connections with Russia.

Makarov’s involvement in the “golden passport” plan to obtain Cypriot citizenship more than ten years ago has just come to light. Since this effort expedites the citizenship application process for wealthy individuals, it aims to attract wealthy corporations as its primary audience.

The “golden passport” scheme in Cyprus aims to attract wealthy investors by expediting the application process and offering a quicker route to citizenship. This program is also known as the “golden visa.” 

Nonetheless, there are worries that this program might allow applicants to avoid rigorous monitoring and due diligence requirements. The program has come under fire as a result of these concerns.

Igor Makarov’s decision to renounce his Russian citizenship is by no means an isolated instance. He was one of 14 “close associates of the Russian regime” that Canada had sanctioned a year earlier for their alleged involvement in Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. 

This belief stems from the perception that Russia illegally invaded Ukraine. These accusations were connected to the 2014 Ukrainian conflict, which drew international attention and led to the imposition of several penalties on individuals connected to the Russian government.

Many nations around the world, including Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom, have imposed sanctions on Igor Makarov. This emphasizes how widespread the accusations against Makarov about the events that took place in Ukraine are. 

These fines are part of a larger, global response to the crisis that aims to hold individuals accountable for their participation in actions deemed disturbing and unwanted.

Makarov’s decision to renounce his Russian citizenship and his involvement in the “golden passport” program shed light on the intricate dynamics—some of which may be problematic—that surround wealthy individuals attempting to become citizens of other nations. They also draw attention to the initiatives taken by the global community to lessen the effects of geopolitical conflicts.

The Bottom Line

Due to his involvement in the infamous “golden passport” scheme in Cyprus and the situation in Ukraine, Russian businessman Igor Makarov recently renounced his Russian citizenship. 

Put simply, this choice was taken in reaction to the disagreement. This action is part of a longer-term trend in which people are severing their connections with Russia. Due diligence requirements can be circumvented, which is why the “golden passport” approach has drawn criticism. 

Makarov was under sanctions from the UK, Canada, and Australia due to his alleged involvement in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Therefore, Makarov’s action was not unusual. 

These projects provide an example of how people are responding to the issue globally. The Makarov case illuminates the intricate webs of relationships surrounding wealthy individuals pursuing citizenship in other nations and draws attention to the global initiatives aimed at lessening the effects of geopolitical crises.

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