Exiled Oligarch Ismailov Clandestine Fortune Stirs Up Russia Montenegro Discord

Moscow has emphasized to Podgorica its desire to have disgraced businessman Telman Ismailov extradited. Exiled Oligarch Ismailov Clandestine is wanted for murder and owes a substantial debt to VTB Bank, which is currently facing sanctions from Western countries. Despite his asylum request in Russia and Montenegro, the oligarch has successfully upheld his European business empire while maintaining ties to Russia.

Moscow has subtly conveyed its renewed interest in extraditing Telman Ismailov, a fugitive Russian businessman accused of murder, to Montenegrin authorities. The only publicly visible aspect of Moscow’s efforts was when the pro-Russian, Eurosceptic parliamentary bloc called “For the Future of Russia Montenegro” requested an investigation by the Podgorica public prosecutor into Exiled Oligarch Ismailov’s Clandestine asylum status, suggesting that it might have resulted from an irregular financial transaction. Currently, Moscow has not disclosed its plans for legal action, mainly because Ismailov’s assets are situated in jurisdictions that may be beyond the reach of Russian creditors, who are now facing Western sanctions.

Ismailov, an import-export magnate from Azerbaijan’s small but closely connected Jewish community, presently resides in a villa in Montenegro, rented by a third party. He remains heavily indebted to VTB and is a significant source of trouble for the bank’s chairman, Andrey Kostin.

Exiled Oligarch Ismailov Clandestine Fortune Stirs

VTB Bank
VTB Bank

VTB has pursued legal action against Ismailov in various jurisdictions in an attempt to recover his assets. Investigations carried out by Alexander Bastrykin’s powerful Investigative Committee (CK RF) have complemented these efforts. Russian prosecutors are seeking Exiled Oligarch Ismailov’s clandestine arrest for his alleged involvement in a double murder in Moscow.

Nevertheless, Exiled Oligarch Ismailov’s Clandestine sons, relatives, and designated representatives continue to operate a spirits business in Russia known as AST International Environment. This company stands as one of the last remnants of his extensive business empire in Moscow, which included a network of companies operating across Western Europe engaged in the transportation and distribution of various goods.

Swiss-Lichtenstein stronghold

For the past twenty years, Ismailov has maintained a strong presence in the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland. His sons, Sarkhan Ismailov and Alekper Ismailov, as well as his nephew Ramiz Mardanov, all attended Lugano’s Franklin University. This presence is primarily centered around key figures in Zurich’s financial services sector, namely Walter Hagen and Nadia Hagen, along with Russian trader Svetlana Moroni (formerly known as Svetlana Bulatova-Delmenico).

Together with other Ismailov family members, they managed various enterprises responsible for conducting the businessman’s financial transactions. Notably, Artisona Shipping in Liechtenstein and its subsidiary in Lugano (which has since been deregistered) played a significant role in this network.

Exiled Oligarch Ismailov's Clandestine Fortune
Exiled Oligarch Ismailov’s Clandestine

Svetlana Moroni, who has strong connections in the shipping industry, also has ties to the local nationalist party, the Ticino League. She joined some of its prominent members, such as Sabrina Aldi and Marco Bortolin, on a trip to Ismailov’s luxury hotel, the Mardan Palace in Turkey, in 2015.

Ismailov’s influence extends to various Swiss companies involved in aviation, including private jets and cargo transport. Additionally, he serves consumers through the delivery company Fasivery, which has been operating in Lugano since 2017. His nephews, Ramiz Mardanov, who is also a shareholder in AST International Environment, and Rustam Mardanov, run this business.

A consolidated empire

Ali Eldukayev and Artur Eldukayev, former bodyguards of Ismailov, have been involved, either currently or in the past, in managing various local delivery companies in the Czech Republic and Germany. These enterprises have operated in collaboration with other associates of the wealthy individual, notably the still-operational BAU&SEC in Berlin. According to sources with knowledge of the family’s business ventures, these two sectors, transportation and distribution, share close ties.

In 2007, the Ismailov family discreetly assumed control of assets and entities previously owned by Russian Gennadi Petrov. Petrov was associated with the “Tambov mafia,” a criminal organization engaged in narcotics trafficking, until its dismantling by Spanish authorities in 2008. These acquisitions, which Intelligence Online has had access to, have remained undisclosed until now.

Tambov mafia consequences

Beginning in 2007, Yulia Gaydukova, Ismailov’s dependable advisor and representative in Cyprus, took over the management of two businesses that had previously been under Petrov and his associates’ control. These companies, Ascoflot Shipping, and Fairline Shipping & Trading, were under investigation in Madrid for their alleged involvement in illegal arms and drug trafficking.

Tambov mafia
Tambov mafia

Petrov was arrested in Spain in 2008, but he managed to flee to Russia after being released on bail. Despite extradition requests from Madrid, he has continued conducting business in Russia.

However, Petrov’s two villas in Marbella were eventually recovered by entities controlled by Telman’s son, Sarkhan, specifically Adelfa Properties and Tipper Inversiones. These properties are still managed by Petrov’s former local advisors, Alejandro Manuel de Fortuny Gamache and Antonio de Fortuny Mayns.

Ismailov and Petrov had a longstanding relationship that predated Petrov’s arrest. Ismailov used to visit Marbella regularly between 2005 and 2008, but these visits became infrequent after Petrov’s arrest and ceased altogether when Ismailov relocated to Russia Montenegro.

Moscow beginnings

Ismailov amassed his wealth during the 1990s, primarily by managing Moscow’s Cherkizovsky market, with the backing of Mayor Yuri Luzhkov (as reported on December 16, 1999).

In 2009, during the waning days of Luzhkov’s tenure and at the peak of Vladimir Putin’s role as Prime Minister, the extensive Cherkizovsky market, known for the widespread trade in counterfeit and illicit goods, was shuttered. It also harbored an underground community that accommodated hundreds of thousands of undocumented laborers.

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