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Odessa MP appearing in the Trump-Russia orbit? Not quite

July 20, 2017

In the US the Trump-Russia affair continues to muffle much of the news across the globe as one questionable occurrence appears after another.

Whether or not President Trump, or his campaign, colluded/conspired with The Kremlin remains to be proven in a court of law.  To be honest, when it comes to President Trump, his business empire and any kompromat and/or Russian influences, it is probably wiser to follow the money and look to money laundering either knowingly or negligently over the decades.  Quite clearly no due diligence was entered into when it came to the legitimacy of the money used to buy or invest in Trump real estate.

The clouds that hang around his family and entourage seemingly also continue to darken.

Prejudging on-going investigations are a somewhat pointless affair even if they make good media copy and/or click bait – and anyway this blog focuses on Ukraine.  Thus perhaps the affairs of Paul Manafort are about as close to anything in or surrounding the White House behind the curtain issues?

In a very recent New York Times article the name Ivan Fursin appeared in relation to a string of offshore companies and apparent debts of Mr Manafort.

Small change perhaps?  That depends upon what a reader knows of Mr Fursin.  With very little said of Mr Fursin, so perhaps a little background?

He is after all an MP for Odessa.

Ivan Fursin is allegedly a childhood buddy of Sergei Liovochkin – who with Dmitry Firtash currently sits behind the Opposition Block (remnants of Party of Regions) of which Mr Fursin is an MP.  It is claimed that Mr Fursin’s father once worked in the Ministry of Interior under General Liovochkin, Sergei’s father and there began is a lifelong friendship.  Whether or not that is true, both men went to Kyiv Economics University at the same time (1989 ish) and certainly bonded there if not before.  (Within that university circle of friends are several other (in)famous names which are not relevant to this entry.)

In 1993 Messrs Liovochkin and Fursin (and a few others) opened a bank in Kyiv called Askold.  That the bank survived nefarious and violent interests during those wild, wild days of the 1990’s can perhaps be put down to Sergei Liovochkin’s father – the aforementioned General within the Ministry of Interior.

The bank also managed to attract one or two quality customers – perhaps again thank’s to the General.

Whatever the case the bank also become one of the major currency converters – for the legitimate customer or otherwise.

By 1995, with a bit of offshore smoke and mirrors, Askold Bank became the infamous Banking House (also known as Gangster House by the late 1990s).  Naturally the temptation to avoid nefarious deeds was too great – questionable property financing, insurance and trusts etc.

Banking House closed in the late 1990’s mired in scandal – though naturally nobody went to jail.

Mr Fursin then appeared in Odessa in 1999 with a new bank called Misto Bank (which he created with Sergei Kivalov, Artem Ershovym and another).  Mr Ershovyn would continue to feature in the business of Messrs Liovochkin and Fursin via his East-West finance vehicle.  It is about this time that Dmitry Firtash and small shares in an oil and gas company company called Basco all appeared within the Fursin orbit – via Sergei Liovochkin.

For the next decade Mr Furzin built his empire, much of it along side and with minority shares within the Firtash empire – Clearing House, Centragaz, Raiffeisen Investment and more.  This in turn and via these entities, led to Mr Fursin having an indirect minority share in the notorious RUE monopoly gas intermediary between Russia and Ukraine.  Mr Furzin began collecting Odessa landmark property while Misto Bank lent large sums to select clients in Kyiv – some of which were then “taken over”.

In 2012, Mr Furzin entered the Verkhovna Rada for the Party of Regions having won single mandate seat 138 in Odessa – which was just as well as he had become a person of interest in the Boiko Towers oil rig scandal via, by then, a vast web of smoke and mirrors offshores, and his Centragas interests.  Naturally nobody has yet gone to jail.

He remains a parliamentarian for the Opposition Block.

So the apparently still unpaid “loan” to Mr Manafort of $9.9 million via all the corporate smoke and mirrors – small change or not for Mr Fursin?  Well he’s certainly not hurting!

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