Update (9/21/08): A bit more on Khmelnitsky, the alleged figure behind Integrum, is appended below.
Through an offshore subsidiary, the US-based Vanco makes up about 1/4 of the joint venture established to run the development of the 13,000 square km offshore tract. The other partners were revealed to be the Rinat Akhmetov-owned DTEK, the anonymous Austrian investment firm Integrum Technologies (more on them later), and Shadow Light Investments, owned by Evgeny Novitsky–who, according to Demydenko’s article, has connections to a Russian mafia outfit:
According to a number of reports in the press and the book Darkness at Dawn-The Rise of the Russian Criminal State by David Satter (Yale University Press, September 2004), Evgeny Novitsky is alleged to be a member of, or very close to, Russia’s Solntsevo organized crime gang.
Satter wrote that Solntsevo had close ties to a Russian company called Sistema [I would classify being “director” as having “close ties”], which is linked to Moscow Mayor Yuriy Luzhkov and to the IVK, the information technology company, of which Novitsky was director. Solntsevo, working through the company SV-Holdings, eventually came to own a large share of IVK.
… Kommersant wrote on July 22, 1997, that an unnamed official of the FBI had revealed the names of three individuals suspected of being “shadow bankers” for the Solntsevo mob, one of whom was Evgeny Novitsky.
There are more connections and citations listed by Demydenko to reiterate Novitsky’s supposed connections to the mob, including tantalizing references to infamous gangster Semyon Mogilevich, who some claim is in deep with RosUkrEnergo.
As for Integrum:
Integrum Technologies has refused to disclose its main investors, and Vanco executives have admitted on a number of occasions that they do not know the identities of the owners of Integrum…Evidence suggests, however, that Kyiv Investment Group, a company owned by Ukrainian oligarch Vasyl Khmelnytsky, is one of the hidden partners of Integrum.
Update (9/21/08): Khmelnitsky is a former Tymoshenko supporter who has since switched over to the Party of Regions. However, their separation was reportedly relatively amicable and without scandal. Khmelnitsky’s main investments are within the Kyiv property sector.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet of Ministers passed a resolution to divide up another large Black Sea shelf plot into 33 smaller sections, rather than license it off as one large structure. OMV had reportedly early expressed interest in the project, but it’s unclear how this–and the ongoing scandal surrounding Vanco–could affect their viewpoint…