Ukrainian politician funneled polling data from Ukraine to Prague oil company via Wyoming shelf companySeptember 13, 2019 1:33 pm
A former Ukrainian politician scrutinized by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Andrey Artemenko, is behind the purchase of a shelf company in Wyoming which subsequently bought Ukrainian polling data and resold it to a fake oil company. The shelf company is part of a large portfolio of once-inactive businesses sold out of a single address in Wyoming, while the oil company, purportedly run out of Prague, is masked via an Armenian man and has its internet traffic re-routed through Moscow and a Russian state-owned company.
The wild story – based on Department of Justice files, corporate documents, financial records, website registrant data, interviews, and other evidence collected by Forensic News – sheds new light on the recent activities of the enigmatic ex-Ukrainian politician Andrey Artemenko.
Shortly before Christmas Day 2018, Gerald Pitts’ Wyoming Corporate Services Inc. received an offer for one of the many shelf companies listed for sale on its website. The blandly-named company, Garden Resources Inc., was incorporated in 2008 – making it one of the more expensive options due to its age. The parties negotiated a price tag of $4,395, and soon the company was in the hands of the wives of Andrey Artemenko and an-Atlanta based businessman, Nabil Bader.
The original registered address for Garden Resources, 2710 Thomas Avenue, is traced to the headquarters of Wyoming Corporate Services, run by Pitts. The company specializes in the sale of inactive “shelf” companies, “which comes with years of regulatory filings behind it, lending a greater feeling of solidity,” according to an investigation by Reuters. The entity can be used much like a traditional shell company, used to hide assets and transactions. For years, Pitts has made a living by incorporating hundreds or thousands of LLCs, keeping them on the “shelf”, and then selling them years later for a large profit.
Though shelf companies are often tied to criminal activity, the purchase of a shelf company could include legitimate reasons. For instance, shelf companies do not require the weekslong incorporation process as they were already registered years prior. So, if one is in a rush to open the company for business then a shelf company could be an option. Additionally, people buy shelf companies to gain access to credit or to make their businesses look more attractive because they have technically been “in business” for years.
The Artemenko shelf company in question
Some LLCs incorporated and sold by Pitts have been tied to nefarious activities. Pitts has never been charged with any wrongdoing, mainly because he is not responsible for the shelf company once it is sold. Per the Reuters report, “former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, who was once ranked the eighth-most corrupt official in the world by watchdog group Transparency International,” registered a shelf company involved in a major embezzlement scheme to Pitts’ office. Other cases of financial crime reportedly originated from companies with which Pitts was involved.
Garden Resources was incorporated in 2008 by Pitts and remained dormant until late 2018, when it was sold to an unknown party. Pitts, in emails to Forensic News, stated that Artemenko’s wife Oksana Kuchma was not the buyer of the shelf company. Though, as seen in the document from the Wyoming Secretary of State, the management of the company was transferred from Pitts himself to Kuchma and Hanadi Bader.
When asked again if anyone on the Wyoming document purchased the company, Pitts responded with one word: No. On the question of ownership, Pitts said, “We do not give that information out, except under due process or if the State of Wyoming asks for it.”
Months later, the company declared in a Department of Justice document that Kuchma owned 75% of the shares (mentioned in more detail later).
The purchase of the shelf company cost over $4,000, while it would have cost just $125 to incorporate a new company. This indicates that the purchasers may have been in a hurry to get into business or to obtain a company with access to credit.
Kuchma is married to Artemenko, a former far-right-wing Ukrainian politician. He was questioned by Mueller’s team and grand jury in June 2018, and reportedly passed a Kremlin-approved plan to remove sanctions on Russia to Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who subsequently delivered it to Michael Flynn. Artemenko faced additional scrutiny for his attendance at the Trump inauguration, as it is unclear how he got the tickets. Artemenko is also reportedly associates with Felix Sater.
Kuchma is also the front-person of another company controlled by Artemenko, the Florida-based Global Assets, Inc, which has real estate holdings in Florida. A source with knowledge of the situation told Forensic News that Kuchma, who works as a model, isn’t behind any of these businesses, but rather acts as a front-woman for her husband.
Hanadi Bader is married to Nabil Bader, who runs an Atlanta-based consulting firm and has ventures tied to the Middle East financial sector. Neither Mr. nor Mrs. Bader responded to requests for comment from Forensic News regarding this story.
With the purchase of Garden Resources completed, Kuchma and Bader changed the name of the company to Global Management Association, Corp.
That name change, finalized in January 2019, was just three months before the company acted as a middleman to buy Ukrainian Presidential polling data and resell it to a Prague-based oil company for a $50,000 profit.
After the Wyoming-based Global Management Association added a branch out of a virtual office in Washington DC, the company began its only known transaction. In May 2019, Global Management Association (the Washington DC branch) registered as a foreign agent under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The six-page FARA, filed by the Atlanta businessman Nabil Bader, lists him as President and Partner of the company, though it is stipulated that Kuchma owns 75% of the shares with Hanabi Bader holding the other 25%. The FARA filing was first spotted by investigative journalist Wendy Siegelman and citizen researcher @Agenthades1.
According to the FARA filing, Global Management Association purchased Ukrainian Presidential polling data from a firm located in Kharkiv, and then essentially funneled the material to a Prague-based oil company for a $50,450 profit. The purchase of the polling data by Global Management Association and the subsequent resale to the Prague oil company occurred on the same day: April 17, 2019.
The type of data purchased from the Kharkiv, Ukraine-based polling company New Image Marketing Group and sold to Oil Prom in Prague remains unclear. The only known polling conducted by New Image Marketing Group was reportedly an exit poll from the April 21 Presidential elections. Given that the data was purchased and sold to Oil Prom on April 17, it raises questions on what type of polling data was indeed given to the oil company or why a purported oil company would want internal polling data for an election in Ukraine. New Image Marketing Group and their CEO did not respond to requests for comment.
A deeper dive into Oil Prom SRO, the Prague, Czech Republic-based company purporting to offer global oil trading, as well as aviation fuel and other products, reveals that the company may not even be in the oil business at all, and has multiple ties to Moscow.
The company’s main website, which was created just two months ago, according to domain records, boasts of outlandish success, such as the following:
Oil Prom S.R.O ’s is one of the Central & Eastern Europe’s largest global crude oil sellers, trading above two million barrels of crude and condensate (light oil) every day.
When it comes to managing the logistics of oil and gas, safety and efficiency are the greatest concerns. At At Oil Prom S.R.O, we have extensive experience of providing specialized logistic services for this industry. We offer comprehensive management concepts and flexible solutions for all kinds of support needed.
An analysis of Oil Prom’s financial records, acquired and analyzed by Forensic News, tells a much different story. Corporate records show that the company was incorporated in August 2017 and the following year reported nearly $680k in assets but was deeply in the red, with a $64,000 loss. Moving two million barrels every day, as the website suggests, would inevitably result in tens of millions of dollars of assets and revenue. In addition to the financial records posted below, Forensic News scoured shipping records for Oil Prom and found just one public shipment in May of 2019: a movement of nylon mesh/mesh-like fabrics to a Ukrainian company.
The corporate documents also show that an Armenian citizen by the name of Arman Simonyan holds 100% of Oil Prom’s shares. (The corporate documents shared by a source with Forensic News are unable to be published for the time being, though we are working on this regularly.)
Forensic News was unable to track down Simonyan or find anyone in the oil business by that name. A common tactic among those who attempt to shroud their businesses in secrecy is to use a “nominee” shareholder to hold the shares of their company. By using this nominee, who often gets a small cut of the money, the ultimate owner can remain hidden and his ownership cannot be revealed. The question of why a purported oil company in Prague would be interested in Ukrainian polling data to the tune of $75,000 remains unanswered.
Adding to the intrigue is the fact that the company banks not in the Czech Republic but with UniCredit Bank in Bratislava, Slovakia, according to other internal Oil Prom documents seen by Forensic News.
The website and internet traffic
Oil Prom’s website is key in another line of inquiry followed by Forensic News. A search on the website’s domain address reveals that the website is not hosted in Prague or anywhere in the Czech Republic for that matter, but instead in Moscow, Russia.
The IP address for the website shows that the company is hosted in the center of Moscow. In fact, one IP geolocation service places the IP address inside the walls of the Kremlin complex, as seen below. Multiple IT experts cautioned that these IP address locations can be manipulated and aren’t extremely accurate in general.
Another IP location service placed the Oil Prom IP in the same general area, about a mile away from the Kremlin. The domain registration data also shows that the Internet Service Provider (ISP) for Oil Prom’s website is a small Moscow-based firm about which little is known, called Avguro Technologies.
An analysis of a tracert record, or the route through the internet from one network device to another, when visiting the Oil Prom website reveals another possible connection to the Russian government. A tracert “is a network tool used to determine the ‘path’ packets take from one IP address to another.” Each connection is a step on a path from your computer to the website. The route taken from any computer to the Oil Prom website makes a couple of stops (or steps) into a Russian government-controlled telecommunications giant, Rostelecom.
While the exact purpose of Global Management Association’s existence is unknown, its story paints a troubling picture: a far-right Ukrainian politician, under scrutiny for interfering in U.S. politics, used a shelf company to move valuable information in and out of the U.S., turning a profit in the process.
The Russian-connected nebulous oil company raises further questions about what Global Management Association sought to achieve. Above all, the apparent ease with which these events took place highlights how seamlessly nefarious foreign influence and money can operate within U.S. borders.
Click here for a chart mapping out the various Artemenko connections.
Artemenko has previously employed political consultant Andrii Telizhenko, who has met with President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani in recent months as the Trump camp pushes Ukraine to open investigations into the DNC and the Biden family.
According to the Washington Post, Telizhenko “from December 2015 to June 2016…served as third secretary in the political section in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington. During that time, he claims, he witnessed examples of Ukrainian officials openly favoring Hillary Clinton’s candidacy.”
A source familiar with Telizhenko’s activities in 2016 and 2017 indicated that he was involved in many more dubious events than previously reported. The source said that Telizhenko might have connections to the Trump transition team. Artemenko and Telizhenko remain ardent supporters of President Trump.
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