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Saturday 18.01.2020 | Name days: Antis, Antons

Shady Skonto stadium buyer, a Russian businessman, believes he was cheated

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 Aleksandrs Rogačovs, Estonia, owner, investigation, fraud, Russia, purchase, Skonto stadiumSkonto stadium’s shady buyer from the tax paradise in Belize – the one who purchased the property for EUR 35 million in 2015 – has been found out. It is Russian businessman Aleksandr Rogachev, whose grandfather was the governor of Oryol Oblast. His father is a general of the Russian Federal Security Service.

The stadium’s buyer believes he was cheated in the deal. Now the prosecutor’s office needs to decide if charges should be applied, as reported by LTV programme De Facto.

The programme reminds that Russian citizen Aleksandr Rogachev, the chairman of the board of directors of the largest construction company in Oryol Oblast, turned to Latvian real estate company ORDO in 2014.

Rogachev comes from an influential family – his grandfather Yegor Stroyev was a member of the political bureau in the Soviet Union and during Boris Yeltsin’s term he was Russian Federation’s Council chairman. For more than a decade Stroyev was the governor of Oryol Oblast. Rogachev’s father Aleksandr, on the other hand, reached the rank of general of the Federal Security Service. Ten years ago he was shot, the programme reports.

De Facto also reports that Rogachev Jr. asked Latvian real estate agents to find him a property to invest into. «After looking into several options in Riga, Rogachev noticed Skonto stadium and decided to purchase it.»

ORDO group had received an offer prior to that – finding a buyer for the stadium for EUR 35 million. The offer came from real estate developer Ģirts Čudars, who is now unable to remember, on whose behalf he looked for buyers for the stadium, De Facto adds.

Officially the stadium belonged to state company Reverta, which was responsible for managing Parex Banka’s problematic assets, LTV programme explains.

Reverta had taken over the stadium’s management from Skonto football club owner and Latvian Football Federation president Guntis Indriksons, who ended up in financial difficulties. However, SSA firm continued operations at the stadium. The firm’s owners included Indriksons’ business partner and ex-Skonto football player. It was not possible to sell the stadium without permission from SSA, because it had pre-purchase rights, De Facto explains.

The programme adds Russian businessman Rogachev had agreed with the amount and had not requested an assessment.

«Rogachev did not bargain. He accepted the price is 35 million. He did not request the price reduced by a million. Not a word,»

Recalls ORDO co-owner Jeļena Rudzīte, adding that when compared to other owners that were proposed to Rogachev, the price per 1 m2 in Skonto quarter was not higher.

The deal was made very complicated. It lasted approximately a year and money passed through accounts of seven companies – from tax paradise Belize to Estonia. The long chain was largely dictated by Rogachev’s reluctance to be revealed in the deal, the programme explains.

The programme’s journalists report the Belize-based offshore Silvertone Enterprises Limited, in which Rogachev was stated as beneficial owner, had transferred EUR 35 million in four loans without collateral to real estate agent Rudzītis family’s associated Latvian company Mani Group.

EUR 14 million of this amount was loaned by Mani Group to SSA, which was then managed by Indriksons’ business partner Vladimirs Koļesņičenko. SSA used the loan to buy Skonto hall from Reverta. The stadium and side property was later written off to Mani Group and Rogachev-related Belize offshore was made the owner, De Facto explains the chain of purchases.

«Five million euros of the remaining EUR 20 million was kept by the real estate agent as commission fee. The rest remained in the hands of SSA

This is why after the deal was done buyers turned to the police, because they believed they were cheated with the true price of the property. Recently State Police concluded the investigation. Charges for fraud are proposed to be raised against Ivars Rudzītis, Nataļja Rudzīte, Jeļena Rudzīte and Estonian citizen Alans Selters, who was the owner of SSA firm at the final stage of the deal, De Facto reports.

State Police Economic Crimes Enforcement Unit’s vice-chief Ilze Sokolovska explains that proof was acquired during the investigation that the price may have been artificially inflated. Now the office of the prosecutor needs to decide what to do.

The real estate agent involved in the deal believes the price was adequate, because it was set low and separate from other structures.

«Rogachev spoke about demolishing the stadium but it’s a socially important place. He was worried that no one would allow it to be demolished. This is why the seller had to guarantee the demolishing of the stadium would be coordinated. This detail was included in the purchase-sale contract,» says Jeļena Rudzīte, one of the suspects. She does not admit her guilt.

But the seller did not demolish the stadium. The ex-owner of SSA, Estonian citizen Selter, refused to answer this and other questions asked by De Facto.

Documents that have ended in the hands of De Facto, show that approximately EUR 15 million from the deal account was not transferred to SSA but instead to two other firms whose ties with the stadium are unclear.

The smallest amount went to Latvian company Sun Garden, whereas the largest amount went to Estonian company Fumox. Both firms now have Estonian citizen Kristīna Lohmusa as beneficial owner.

Lawyer Dace Grinberga was involved in coordination of the deal. She also represents Indriksons, De Facto reports.

«I have not met with Indriksons a single time. During the deal we spoke about Indriksons being the buyer. We did not have other surnames,» says real estate agent Rudzīte.

«What kind of bad thing happened at Skonto stadium? I don’t know. There was a normal deal,» said Indriksons during an interview, adding that he is not informed about details of the deal.

Journalists say that two and a half years ago Indriksons had completely denied being anywhere near the deal. «Now he says he was part of it, but only at the beginning. Buyers unknown to him who offered to resolve all commitments before banks then appeared. However, he says he is not aware of all details of the deal.»

However, when asked if lawyer Grīnbergs represented him, Indriksons said: «She represented the stadium because I had commitments before the bank. Dace resolved it very successfully, and to this day I still have millions worth of debt before the bank. Unfortunately this is how it is even though we paid 14 million instead of eight.»

«Where is the rest of the money – approximately EUR 15 million? The police are hard at work investigating just that. Police are also investigating if there was any dirty money involved and laundered,» De Facto reports.

Unofficial information about the investigation shows that Selters had taken some money from Estonian Fumox account and carried the money back to Latvia, the programme reports.

De Facto explains that whether there is a reason to send a case to court is something prosecutor Agris Skradalis needs to decide on. He, on the other hand, is not in a hurry to share information.

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