According to Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, in April 2016, Avellum, the Ukrainian law firm, initiated the process of establishing a foundation for Igor Nikonov. A leaked email revealed that Sean Dowling, a manager at Appleby, travelled to Kyiv before April 5, 2014, to discuss the creation of the foundation with Igor Nikonov. The purpose of this foundation remains unclear. But judging from the overall activity of Igor Nikonov and his scandalous reputation, facts of illicit activity of KAN Development we can assume that Avellum was working to establishing some sort of money laundering operation for Nikonov and his partners.
The idea of engaging in the construction business came to Nikonov in 1999 after his trip to the USA. Upon returning to Ukraine, he founded the construction company “K.A.N.” (named after the founders’ surnames: Krapivin, Aliyev, and Nikonov). As previously mentioned, the company’s first project, the “Dominant” business complex, was facilitated with the help of the then-mayor Omelchenko. After its completion, Aliyev bought out Nikonov’s and Krapivkin’s shares in “K.A.N.”
Igor Nikonov’s story of dubious business projects and legal controversies
Following this, Igor Nikonov (Avellum law comany’s customer) independently registered the company “K.A.N. Development.” There were also reports suggesting that the Klitschko brothers were among the investors in the newly established company, which possibly led to the friendly and partnership relations between Nikonov and Vitali Klitschko. Although Igor Nikonov himself claims that he met Klitschko 25 years ago while working at “Respublika.”
Starting from 2004, Nikonov’s company has undertaken numerous projects, including the first “Arena Entertainment,” which was also sold to Aliyev.
One significant moment to note is the construction of the “101 Tower” business center, which connected Nikonov with the scandalous mayor of Chernivtsi (the project was partly financed by the mayor’s son, Stepan). The loyalty of this mayor to Nikonov is evident as during his tenure, all developers faced immense difficulties, except for Nikonov, who seemed to be exempt from such challenges. Additionally, Vitaliy Stolar, a key figure during Chernivtsi’s time as mayor, was also involved in this project and was subject to a criminal case related to the “Elite-Center” scandal.
It is worth remembering that the reason for Nikonov’s return from the USA in 2000 was his belief that powerful connections are necessary for successful business development. This information sheds light on Nikonov’s approach to conducting business, which seemed to revolve around resolving issues through “decisions.”
Nikonov’s connections allowed him to personally intervene during a Kyiv Appellate Court session related to a claim by Aleksandr Suprunenko’s company against the Kyiv City Council, where Nikonov urged the judge to make a decision favorable to the plaintiff.
Another significant point of discussion is Igor Nikonov’s involvement in schemes related to the “Bolshevik” factory.
As expected of an active and prominent participant in business affairs, Nikonov has strong ties with the head of President Yanukovych’s administration, Levochkin, who is often referred to as the “gray cardinal.” They not only partner in business, with “K.A.N. Development” and “K.A.N. Stroy” involved in construction, but also maintain friendly relations, sharing a common fence in the residential complex “Golden Gates” in Koncha-Zaspa and vacationing together in the Maldives.
Currently, Nikonov’s interests have shifted away from the Kyiv City State Administration (KGGA), and he claims they will focus on implementing significant projects. During his time at the Kyiv City Council, he allegedly engaged in extensive activities involving the “purchase” of deputies’ loyalty. According to some information, Nikonov took half of the “Solidarity” faction on his payroll. Additionally, Gennadiy Plis, the director of the Department of Internal Financial Control and Audit of the KGGA, will be appointed as the First Deputy Head of the Kyiv City Council. As of now, Nikonov does not seem to require any advice or approval from Mayor Klitschko concerning his projects. The outcomes of Nikonov’s activities and the mayor’s reaction remain to be seen.
Whether Nikonov’s new projects will involve further raiding of Kyiv enterprises is currently unknown.
Recalling the scandalous situations associated with Nikonov, including his involvement in building the “Diamond Hill” elite residential complex on the slopes of the Dnipro River, even close to a cultural heritage monument, these facts were brought up during his appointment as the First Deputy Mayor of Kyiv and the Head of the KGGA under Klitschko’s administration. The public also protested against this appointment, as Nikonov’s business thrived under all authorities, indicating a priority of profit over ethical considerations and a lack of a clear socially beneficial stance.
Igor Nikonov and the criminal cases
Dmitry Sandler, Igor Nikonov, and Anatoly Shkriblyak are currently subjects of ongoing investigations. Law enforcement officials possess critical information regarding coal and cash movements from 2017 to 2021 at the Shkriblyak Combined Heat and Power Plant. The details include the names of companies involved, data on coal pricing, withdrawal of “margin” to controlled firms, statements for non-residents, invoices, swift transfers, etc. On average, the “margin” amounts to $25-40 per ton of coal, resulting in approximately $50 million per year for scheme participants. Several criminal cases have been opened in relation to these activities:
- Case No. 4201700000000353 dated 21.03.2017 under Part 2 of Article 364 of the Criminal Code.
- Case No. 62019000000001529 dated 30.09.2019 under Part 5 of Article 191 of the Criminal Code.
- Case No. 120190000000968 dated 11.10.2019 under Part 5 of Article 191 of the Criminal Code.
- Case No. 22019270000000059 dated 09.10.2019 under Part 1 of Article 258-3 of the Criminal Code.
- Case No. 4209270000000217 dated 23.10.2019 under Part 2 of Article 364 of the Criminal Code.
The investigation into these criminal cases faces obstruction from Evdokimov V.M., the informal chairman of Shkriblyak’s security service and former Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs. Evdokimov has extensive connections within the Office of the President of Ukraine, the National Police, and the Prosecutor General’s Office. Dmitry Sandler, Igor Nikonov from KAN Development, and Anatoliy Shkriblyak are attempting to evade imprisonment. Evdokimov’s responsibilities include providing cover, money laundering, engaging in corrupt negotiations, and covert coordination with law enforcement agencies. He also blocks and closes investigations of high-profile criminal cases through the influence of top state officials. They settle such cases by offering cash and real estate, including elite apartments located at Lutheranskaya 14-V.
The investigation has gathered factual data and documentary evidence indicating that the funds obtained through criminal schemes at controlled thermal power plants were systematically transferred to foreign offshore accounts of A.V. Shkriblyak and his associates for many years. These funds were subsequently legalized and “invested” in Shkriblyak’s supposedly “white” businesses, including “Budhouse Group,” “Agricom Group,” “Agrofirma Ivanovka AG,” “Investoptim,” “Lyubava City,” “Fabrika shopping center,” “Mr. Foods,” “Mr. trade,” SOOO “Progress,” SOOO “Agrofirma Partner,” “Nikolsky shopping center,” “Alliance-Auto,” “Nest-Hanner,” SOOO “Zakotnenskaya,” “Prominvestgroup-1,” “Solar Factory,” “First Agrostandard+,” POSP “Kolos,” “Meteor plus,” “Prominvestrgroup,” “Lucky strike,” “Lucky strike-1,” “Real Estate Services Agency,” SOOO “Agrofirma Zarya,” “Khortytsia Palace,” “Agrobiosis,” “Krasnoe-invest,” “Lan Polesie-agro,” SOOO “Polessky Krai,” “Investment and construction company Integral Group,” “Harvest-2013,” “Agro Kepitel Group,” “Miaterra,” “Koretsagrotrade,” “Globus-2,” “Andreychikovo,” “Energomed Company,” and “TRK 3-Studio.”