UK Telecom Company’s Connections to Russian Oligarchs and Sanctioned Deals 2024

A UK telecoms provider has come under scrutiny for securing Russian state contracts from agencies associated with sanctioned individuals, including an ally of Vladimir Putin, while its supporter, who is a Tory donor, is found to propagate anti-Ukrainian sentiment on social media.

RETN Capital, operating across Europe, claims to have minimized its involvement with Russia since the Ukraine invasion and asserts compliance with sanctions. However, its revenue from the country has surged since the onset of the conflict, partly due to contracts from sanctioned state entities, as reported by the Daily Telegraph.

An investigation by the newspaper revealed that the co-owner of RETN’s primary institutional investor, Njord Partners, has been sharing content on social media platforms, including X (formerly Twitter), that denigrates Ukraine and President Zelensky.

One repost read: “Ukraine has always been a very dodgy place, run by friends of the globalists like Hunter Biden, where incredibly shifty stuff goes on.”

Additionally, there was a repost stating: “Why is no one stating the obvious? Zelensky has regime-ending dirt on Biden and other Western leaders who have used Ukraine as their corruption playground for decades.”

The individual, known as Trolle, a former executive at Oaktree Capital who donated £20,000 to Conservative MP Priti Patel during her tenure as UK Home Secretary, also shared conspiracy theories on his X account, according to the Telegraph report.

Trolle’s partner at Njord Partners, Jakob Kjellberg, currently serves as the Chairman of RETN.

In November 2022, Arvid Trolle, known for his far-right views, reposted anti-Ukrainian propaganda on X (formerly Twitter), contributing to the dissemination of divisive content.

RETN’s wholly owned Russian subsidiary has been awarded contracts from state entities that have been subject to sanctions since the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine, as documented by Interfax-Spark, an official contracts database.

Russian President Vladimir Putin listens for a question during a nationally televised question-and-answer session in Moscow, Thursday, April 16, 2015. Speaking Thursday in a televised call-in show with the nation, Putin said the nation’s economic performance has remained strong, despite Western sanctions slapped on Russia over the Ukrainian crisis and a slump in global oil prices. (Alexei Druzhinin/RIA-Novosti, Presidential Press Service via AP)

In December 2022, RETN’s Russian arm secured a contract with the Kurchatov Institute, a state-controlled aviation research agency sanctioned by both the UK and US. Its general director, Mikhail Kovalchuk, and his brother Yury, a close associate of President Putin, are under sanctions from the UK, Canada, and Ukraine.

Two months later, RETN obtained a contract with the Russian State Enterprise Fuel and Energy Complex of St Petersburg (GUP TEK), which is also under Ukrainian sanctions, along with its general director, Ivan Boltenkov.

High Court Judge Compelled to Travel to UAE for Testimony from Sanctioned Russian Oligarch 2024

RETN’s connections with the Russian state and sanctioned entities are further evidenced in the company’s 2022 financial statements. Notably, one of the primary clients of RETN’s Russian subsidiary is PJSC Rostelecom, partially state-owned, and a client of the sanctioned Russian bank Rosbank. Both Rosbank and Rostelecom are sanctioned by Western countries and Ukraine.

Concerns have been raised regarding the current ownership of RETN Partners, following significant changes in its major shareholdings after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Until January 2021, the largest individual beneficial shareholder of RETN Capital was Polina Maltseva, daughter of Anatoly Danilitsky, a former Russian diplomat and executive director of the Russian National Reserve Corporation. Maltseva’s stake in RETN was transferred to Anna Tindl, a German lawyer based in Vienna, Austria, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Tindl is now a director of RETN but does not appear on its website, unlike Kjellberg.

Yuri Kovalchuk: Biography of Russian Billionaire and Putin's Personal Banker
Yuri Kovalchuk: Biography of Russian Billionaire and Putin’s Personal Banker

Anna Tindl has been associated with various entities linked to Russian and Kremlin interests, including Viennese radio station Radio Ru, which rebranded as Alpha Radio in 2023. The station was founded by Yuri Aleksandrovich Zaitsev, a former Russian diplomat whom the FBI suspected of espionage and operating as a Kremlin recruiter while stationed in Washington in 2013.

Following the invasion of Ukraine, Zaitsev transferred his stake in Radio Ru to a German company, IalloGmbH, of which Tindl serves as director. Tindl has also been a shareholder of Radio Ru since around its founding in 2019.

Notably, other former shareholders of Radio Ru include Andrei Zolotov, head of the Vienna bureau of the Putin-aligned RIA Novosti news agency.

A spokesman for RETN stated: “RETN Capital Ltd is fully compliant with all relevant international sanctions. Our group policies mandate compliance from all independent local operating subsidiaries, along with the provision of training and software tools to identify potential sanctioned transactions. RETN is dedicated to constructing a reliable international network platform that promotes global interconnectivity and supports the development of the global internet. Our products, revolving around internet access and communication services, are generally exempted from international sanctions, as they are deemed crucial for democracy, progress, and freedom of expression. We will address the alleged transactions brought to our attention with the management of RETNNet, our Russian subsidiary, to ensure full compliance with our group sanctions policies.”

Njord Partners were contacted for comment but did not respond.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button