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Strange transaction: Russians pass Gazprom subsidiary on to DJ

Strange transaction
Russians pass on Gazprom subsidiary to DJ

By Jan Ganger

When Gazprom surprisingly announces that it will part with its German subsidiary, the German government is alarmed. Because the new ownership is completely unclear. Now it turns out: the Russians wanted to officially transfer control to a Moscow DJ.

The Federal Government has placed the German business of the Russian gas company Gazprom under the trusteeship of the Federal Network Agency. The reasoning for this unprecedented step: The transfer of the shares had not been approved, and the ownership structure was “unclear”. It looks like that’s a very conservative wording. Because the BBC has found out that the energy giant Gazprom has officially transferred control of its German subsidiary to a Muscovite who mainly earns his living with car tuning and as a DJ in clubs.

This is remarkable because Gazprom Germania 2020 – these are the most recent figures – achieved sales of 12.7 billion euros and earned around 277 million euros on balance. The company, including its subsidiaries, had 1,543 employees, including 339 in Berlin. The company, founded in 1990, has gas storage facilities in Germany and Austria with a total capacity of six billion cubic meters via its subsidiary Astora. It is the owner of other important companies in the German gas industry, including the gas trader Wingas, which supplies municipal utilities.

Dmitry Tseplyaev, the name of the man selected by Gazprom, has not yet appeared as a manager. According to his profile on Russian Facebook competitor VK, he was born in November 1973. He has 58 subscribers there and, according to the BBC, performed under the name DJ-Five on March 20 in one of the clubs in the Russian capital. The British asked him via Whatsapp how the entry into the energy business could be explained. So far they have received no reply.

The Gazprom group, which is controlled by the Russian state, surprisingly announced last Friday that it would give up its German business and did not give any details. It later became known that the Russians transferred the German subsidiary to two companies: Gazprom Export Business Services LLC and JSC Palmary.

Who is behind these companies is completely unclear. Gazprom Export Business Services LLC is based in St. Petersburg and apparently belonged to a Gazprom holding until the end of March. The new owner is not known. Curiously, the company owned Gazprom Germania until the end of March. So the old owner of Gazprom Germania is identical to the new owner – must therefore have transferred the shares to himself. It is unclear whether this is actually the case and whether this is even legally possible.

Habeck announces “orderly conditions”.

In addition, although Gazprom Export Business Services owns 99.9 percent of the shares, Gazprom Germania does not control it. That’s what JSC Palmary does. She owns only 0.1 percent of the shares, but Gazprom Export Business Services has transferred all voting rights to her. Palmary was only registered in Moscow last October. Tseplyaev has been the official managing director there since March 30, one day before the announcement of his departure.

In addition, according to the Federal Ministry of Economics, the owners of Gazprom Germania have ordered liquidation, i.e. winding up the company and then ending business operations.

However, this will not happen at first. The Federal Network Agency is temporarily the trustee until the end of September. She “will use the time to bring order to the situation,” said Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck.

It is quite common in Russia for straw men to be used to disguise real ownership. The “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, for example, came across Sergej Roldugin in the “Panama Papers”. He is a cellist and directs a music school he founded in St. Petersburg. He is considered a close friend of Vladimir Putin and is the godfather of one of the Russian President’s daughters. According to research, around two billion dollars flowed through his letterbox companies within a few years. Roldugin therefore at least temporarily owned more than three percent of the shares in Bank Rossija. The Saint Petersburg money house is considered the bank of Putin’s inner circle of power.

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