The Walter Soriano files: Finance consultant ties Soriano to Russian military embezzlement scandal

Walter Soriano image superimposed with image of Russian drone July 26, 2019 1:30 pm By

Walter Soriano TLDR (Too Long Didn’t Read):

  • The Senate believes Walter Soriano, a security consultant who has worked for Russian oligarchs and those close to Israeli PM Netanyahu, may have knowledge of the Russian interference in the 2016 US Election.
  • This report establishes that Soriano employed a Russian businessman whose company received millions from a Russian military drone contract.
  • The businessman worked as Soriano’s finance consultant.

A finance consultant who worked for USG Security Limited—the company controlled by Walter Soriano—is connected to a Russian military contract and a Russian businessman embroiled in major embezzlement and money laundering investigations, according to public records, reports, and other documents.

As previously reported by Forensic News, Soriano, who has recently sparked the interest of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has deep connections with power-brokers in Israel, the UK and Russia, and is involved in several mysterious business ventures stretching from Russia to the U.S.

Forensic News can now reveal that Walter Soriano’s finance consultant for USG Security Limited (his main business) was a Russian man intimately connected to potential financial crimes in Russia and the UK. The accountant, Maxim Skachko, listed on at least two professional networking websites his employment with USG Security. A cached Google search confirms that Skachko listed USG Security as his employer on his LinkedIn page, but the reference has since been scrubbed from his current profile.

Though the timeline of his employment with USG is unclear, it is certain that Skachko joined the company after the name changed from Universe Security Group to USG Security in 2010.

Not much is known about Skachko, but his LinkedIn indicates that he currently works for an LED and LCD screen production and integration company, along with a London-based financial services group. Partners in his various ventures regularly include Russians and Ukrainians, though nearly all of his business interests are located in London.

According to public records, Skachko in December 2015 became director of EK Group Ltd., a company registered in the UK. Prior to Skachko’s appointment, the company’s sole director was Elsina Khayrova, the daughter of the Russian politician Rinat Khairov and husband of Russian businessman Dmitry Tsvetkov. The shareholder of the company since 2011 has been Hegir Capital Management, a company incorporated in Belize. Belize is known for its corporate secrecy laws, thus information on the company is limited.

Skachko also served as the director of another U.K. company, Hegir Properties Ltd from 2013-2018. Like EK Group, Hegir Properties was owned by Hegir Capital, the Belize company, and lists the same London address. Hegir Properties was dissolved in May 2019 and was under the control of Tsvetkov.

Tsvetkov, a multi-millionaire who describes himself as self-employed, identified Skachko as his personal assistant, according to a statement given to the police in Cyprus by one of Tsvetkov’s business partners in a different case:

I made a total of 10 payments, including 9 payments directly to Dmitry Tsvetkov and one payment of 16/2/2016 in the amount of 30,000 pounds sterling to the company, which Dmitry Tsvetkov pointed out to me, saying that I have to pay and that it belonged to a certain Max Skachko – the person he wanted to use in London to get information. Subsequently, I learned that Max Skachko was Dmitry Tsvetkov’s personal accountant…

Recently, Tsvetkov became a target of an investigation in Russia involving the embezzlement of nearly half a billion rubles. According to Russian media reports, the money was granted by the Russian government to Alexander Gomzin, head of the Kazan Scientific and Production Association, in order to develop drone technology. Part of the money, however, was taken offshore and deposited in the UK company Hegir Advisory Limited––also known as EK Group.

Records show that Hegir Advisory did indeed see a huge influx of cash from 2012 to 2013 and from 2013 to 2014. From 2007-2010, Khayrova’s father, United Russia’s Rinat Khairov was an advisor to the Russian Defense Minister. This has caused intense speculation in foreign media reports because a company controlled by Khairov’s daughter Elsina Khayrova, received millions from the drone contract.

Gozmin was arrested by Russian authorities in 2018 for embezzling approximately $15M of the funds. Tsvetkov and Skachko have faced no charges and aren’t officially accused of any crimes. The relationship between Gomzin and Tsvetkov remains unclear. Lawyers for Skachko and Soriano did not respond to requests for comment. Tsvetkov could not be reached.

Hours after Forensic News sent requests for comment to people close to Tsvetkov including Walter Soriano’s lawyers, multiple changes were made to the UK company that received part of the Russian drone money. Skachko was removed as director, the company name changed from EK Group to DT Advisory, and Tsvetkov certified that he was the beneficial owner.

Khayrova made headlines in 2017 with the purchase of a Surrey mansion for 20 million pounds, and a London apartment for 10 million pounds. Both purchases were financed by EFG Private Bank, which was fined 4.2 million pounds in 2013 for failing to combat money-laundering.

Tsvetkov is also embroiled in another scandal that includes alleged Russian mafia figures. The businessman opened a franchise of Graff Diamonds in Cyprus alongside other two other Russian investors who have been fingered as Russian organized crime figures. Tsvetkov and the CEO of Graff Diamonds dined with the President of Cyprus at the event celebrating the opening of the store. The deal soon turned sour and ended up in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit.

As previously reported, Soriano’s USG Security was hired to provide security for Graff Diamonds in London in the late 2000s. Soriano’s family friend, controversial illusionist Uri Geller, received 10% of the proceeds from the USG-Graff partnership. There is no indication that Soriano knows Tsvetkov or was involved in the Cyprus branch of Graff Diamonds, though of course Soriano did employ Tsvetkov’s personal accountant.

Following the publication of this article, Dmitry Tsvetkov emailed Forensic News stating, among other things, that he has “never met with Mr Walter Soriano and I never spoke to him and communicated with him, either directly, or indirectly; moreover, I had absolutely no knowledge, whatsoever and howsoever, about Mr Maxim Skachko’ previous engagements (if any) with Mr Walter Soriano and/or with Mr Walter Soriano’ companies.”

Walter Soriano’s own ties to Russian oligarchs have come under intense scrutiny. As Forensic News previously reported, Soriano’s company, USG Security, was hired to provide security services to the Sochi airport during the 2014 Olympics. Investigations by French and Israeli media sources have also found that Dmitry Rybolovlev hired Soriano in mid-2016 and Roman Abramovich hired Soriano sometime before that. Soriano is said to be especially close to Oleg Deripaska.

The Senate Intelligence Committee asked Soriano to provide all his communications with several key Russians at the heart of the Mueller probe–including Oleg Deripaska and his aide Konstantin Kilimnik–as part of its request for an interview. That Soriano’s former financial consultant was in business with a Russian accused of serious financial crimes is likely to further intrigue investigators.

Note: A previous version of this article stated that Skachko became “co-director” of EK Group when he was appointed in 2015. In fact, Skachko became the sole director. A previous version of this article also stated that Khairov was an advisor to the Russian Defense Minister after 2010. His advisory role ended in 2010.

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