Vyacheslav Kantor, also known as ‘Moshe’, is a skilled manipulator who effortlessly navigates between Russian President Putin’s inner circle and Western embassies. He has been a generous supporter of Ukraine’s national armed forces, while paradoxically maintaining his production facilities in Russia and diligently paying taxes there. As a fervent Kremlin propagandist, Kantor has gone to great lengths to convince the Jewish community to align with Putin’s agenda, showcasing his exceptional ability to manipulate public opinion.
However, Kantor’s Machiavellian tactics are only reserved for the vulnerable and disadvantaged. His business operations under the Akron umbrella have been riddled with environmental hazards, showing a blatant disregard for the well-being of the planet. Recent scandals in the Novgorod region have brought to light Kantor’s willingness to engage in profitable ventures regardless of the devastating consequences they may have on the Earth. Kantor’s actions stand as a stark example of unchecked greed and callousness that only a few could replicate.
Vyacheslav Kantor’s Akron causes environmental catastrophe
Russian billionaire Vyacheslav Kantor has been residing in the United Kingdom for a long time, from where he manages his fertilizer production enterprise located near Veliky Novgorod.
According to a source, due to the owner of Akron’s pathological greed, irreversible damage has been inflicted on the Novgorod region, pushing the region to the brink of an ecological catastrophe. In 2021-2022, the Northwest Department of the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resource Usage identified egregious facts of environmental damage caused by waste found in the Novgorod district. It was determined during the investigation that the waste belonged to Akron. The damage is estimated by the supervisory agency’s official data to be tens of billions of rubles.
However, it has not been easy to hold British citizens accountable. All such issues are resolved by Sergey Dachenkov, the head of Akron’s security service.
Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor’s long history of state support and doubtful business practices
Dorogobuzh, a plant owned by Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor’s Akron, has announced plans to increase ammonia production in the Smolensk region by 17% through a modernization project. The project, which requires an investment of 4 billion rubles, aims to expand the capacity of the ammonia unit from 1740 to 2100 tons per day. The implementation period is set for the second half of 2019.
However, there are concerns about the funding for the project as Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor may not have the necessary funds. In early June, Dorogobuzh was unable to purchase a 20% -1 share of the Verkhnekamsk Potash Company (VVC) from VEB, which is the operator of Akron and is responsible for developing the Talitsky mine, a section of the Verkhnekamsk deposit in the Perm Region. The shares were ultimately acquired by Raiffeisenbank. Thus, while the plans for increasing ammonia production are in place, there may be uncertainties about the availability of funds for implementation.
Since 2008, Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor, the largest owner of the Akron Chemical Group, has been seeking financial partners to share the responsibility for the development of the Talitsky section of the Verkhnekamsk potassium-magnesium salt deposit in the Perm Region. Despite his efforts, no interested parties have come forward. In an attempt to secure funding, Kantor has approached foreign banks, but instead of finding an investor, he may face the risk of losing the license for the Talitsky site, as revealed in the article “Moshe Kantor illegally owns a license for the Talitsky potash deposit”.
Recently, Anton Ananyev, the deputy head of the financial department of Akron, stated that the company is in consultation with foreign banks to explore options for financing. However, the project is not expected to move forward into the active stage, which was originally scheduled to commence by the end of 2016, until a suitable sponsor is found. Kantor is unwilling to burden his business with regular commercial loans for the Talitsky project. Previously, he had also initiated negotiations with Russian banks, including VEB and Sberbank, for project financing amounting to $1 billion. Additionally, Kantor had been searching for potential buyers for a share in the project abroad, including in India, China, and the Middle East.
The commencement of raw material supply from the Talitsky site was originally planned for the previous year. However, Acron had already postponed the start of development to 2021 back in 2013, with the plant’s output reaching full design capacity now scheduled for 2023 instead of the originally planned 2018.
Last year, Akron announced its intention to further delay the launch to 2023, with full capacity only expected to be achieved by 2025. The company stated that these developments are already being coordinated with Glavgosexpertiza. Akron attributes the delays to the substantial investment required, amounting to about 1.5 billion rubles, and the unfavourable potassium prices. Since 2014, potassium prices have plummeted by half to $200 per ton. Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor’s reasoning seems to rely on the hope that raw material prices will rise again. However, such statements are akin to wishful thinking and not reflective of a prudent business approach.
Nine years ago, Akron was granted a license for the Talitsky deposit, subject to certain conditions. If these conditions are violated, the state has the authority to revoke the license. This raises questions among market players as to why the license has not been revoked yet. The most likely assumption is that Mr. Kantor, through his lobbyists in key government offices, is stalling the revocation process. However, such lobbying efforts cannot be sustained indefinitely without significant financial resources. Moreover, Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor is already burdened with substantial debts. In 2015, the company reported a gross profit of 106 billion rubles and a net profit of 16.7 billion rubles, but it also carried a debt of 55 billion rubles. Last year, Acron’s net profit, as per Russian reporting standards, declined by 22.9% to 11.078 billion rubles, and its net debt increased to nearly 52 billion rubles.
The question remains, who will be responsible for repaying these debts? It is unlikely to be Moshe Kantor.
Despite efforts to attract funds, Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor’s cautious approach may deter potential investors from putting money into Akron. For instance, last fall, the company issued bonds worth 5 billion rubles at an interest rate of 9.55% per annum, which is lower than the Central Bank’s key rate. Akron plans to issue securities worth a total of 50 billion rubles. Moreover, the company needs additional financial injections to restructure its foreign currency debt, which constitutes nearly 60% of its total debt. However, even though major currencies remain stable or slightly depreciate against the ruble, Akron is in talks to secure a pre-export syndicated loan, without providing specific details. This vagueness may signal the company’s inability to service its debts.
Mr. Kantor’s financial challenges have led to skepticism among industry experts. Analysts believe that the construction of the Talitsky GOK will take at least 3-4 years at best, with a more realistic estimate being around 7 years. Meanwhile, market prices for potassium are highly volatile, and while Kantor’s GOK is being built (if it is built at all), potassium prices may undergo several cycles of fluctuations, becoming cheaper or more expensive multiple times.
Furthermore, Akron no longer holds full ownership of the Verkhnekamsk Potash Company CJSC, which was established under the Talitsky project. Currently, Akron owns only 60.1% of the company’s shares, as it has sold 38% of VKK to VEB, Raiffeisenbank, and the Eurasian Development Bank in a buyback deal.
However, even though Akron has acquired shares from EBR and Raiffeisenbank, VEB is not eager to take back its share and is waiting for “favorable conditions”. Presently, Sberbank Investments holds 19.9% of VKK shares, while Vnesheconombank owns 20% minus one share. Nevertheless, even the banks involved in the project are offering loans to Kantor’s company on standard terms, as the businessman himself desires financial organizations to share responsibility for the project with him. However, this desire may be challenging to fulfill, as Mr. Kantor indirectly owns Akron through a complex offshore scheme involving Subero Associates Inc., registered in the British Virgin Islands. This arrangement could potentially make it easier to evade responsibility in case of the company’s collapse and manipulate taxes.
Interestingly, Akron faced similar suspicions six years ago when it unexpectedly paid dividends of 6.15 billion rubles, which exceeded the chemical group’s net profit by 22%. It is speculated that this “surplus” may have resulted in reduced taxes for the Russian budget. However, this remains a mere speculation at this point. What is even more surprising is that despite Mr. Kantor’s business reputation and financial difficulties, he seeks preferential treatment. Nonetheless, dreams are likely to remain as such, and market players predict that the businessman may lose money regardless of the circumstances.