«P.» approved: how the President’s friend Kononenko earned money on energy schemes
During five years Schemes has been disclosing numerous abuses of power among the most influential Ukrainian politicians, regardless their political affiliation. But the President Poroshenko always was in the focus of attention. Because he focused on himself the adoption of key decisions for the state. As well as his closest associates.
The head of the state divided the most important spheres of influence between them. In particular, it is about the close friend and business partner of the President Ihor Kononenko. When he became the deputy chairman of the parliamentary faction of Poroshenko, he received one of the key and most profitable state spheres, namely energy, under his supervision. Many spoke about Kononenko’s shadow influence on the decision in this area during recent years. However, the evidence was indirect, because there was lack of direct evidence of his own corrupt benefit from the fraud in energy sector.
When Schemes received unique recordings of conversations, and verified them with the help of western expertise and compared with events of that period, they managed to disclose one of the biggest frauds in energy sector during the time of Poroshenko’s presidency, as well as to establish the role of the nearest associate of the head of the state Ihor Kononenko in it.
As soon as Petro Poroshenko became the President in 2014, he immediately gave power to those with whom he is connected with long-term friendship and cooperation.
When Poroshenko became the President, he immediately gave power to his long-term friends and partners
His business partner Borys Lozhkin became the head of his Administration. Oleg Gladkovskyi, the long-time business partner on the Automobile Corporation Bogdan and other assets, was appointed as the First Deputy Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council by the President. The army friend and business partner of the head of the state Ihor Kononenko was selected to the Parliament on the list of the President’s party. He was appointed as the First Deputy Chairman of the parliamentary faction of Petro Poroshenko Bloc. He became the member of the Parliamentary Committee on fuel and energy, nuclear policy and nuclear safety.
During almost 5 years of Poroshenko’s presidency, the interest of Ihor Kononenko in energy has not resulted in public purchase of assets by the presidential associate. However, market participants non-publicly call Kononenko the President’s curator of fuel and energy complex of the country.
Country’s top energy man
So far journalists were able to find only indirect evidence of Kononenko’s influence.
But last year, Schemes kept the watch for several weeks next to the building where his office is located. Then, they managed to record how influential players of fuel and energy market come to the territory and enter the building exactly at the time when Ihor Kononenko was there.
For example, the businessman Pavlo Fuks came to Kononenko’s office.
June 6, 2018. The influential businessman Pavlo Fuks came to one of the city business centers
Since 2015 journalists have repeatedly written about the transfer of a number of gas producing companies under the control of Pavlo Fuks, which previously belonged to Yanukovych’s assosiates. Fuks himself refutes this information. But at the same time, he does not hide interest in fuel and energy sector.
The businessman Pavlo Fuks does not hide interest in fuel and energy sector
Schemes also noticed the influential businessman Vitaliy Kropachev there. During Poroshenko’s presidency, Kropachev grew up to the businessman of the national level.
Vitaliy Kropachov is the entrepreneur from Chystyakove, Donetsk
The media repeatedly stated that only during recent years, the businessman began to control the work of several coal mines and coal processing plants, which previously belonged to the sphere of influence of Yanukovych’s family.
June 26, 2018. The businessman Vitaliy Kropachov leaves one of the metropolitan business centers
During the same period, the businessman Anatoliy Shkriblyak also visited the office. He controls a number of thermal power stations (TPS), in particular, Darnytsya TPS, which heats part of the left bank of Kyiv.
Anatoliy Shkriblyak (l) and Serhiy Mishchenko (r) leave Kononenko’s office
At that time visitors denied the meeting with Kononenko.
Therefore, the influence of the President Poroshenko through the person of Kononenko on Ukrainian energy sector could have remained at the non-public level, which is very difficult to prove through the journalistic investigation.
June 26, 2018. The Member of Parliament Ihor Kononenko leaves one of the metropolitan business centers
If only the same last name of one of the closest presidential associates was not heard from the official investigation of law enforcement officers. It concerns one of the most resonant corruption scandals in fuel and energy complex during the presidency of Poroshenko.
And if Schemes did not receive telephone conversations with Ihor Kononenko, the main subject of this investigation.
Schemes received recordings of telephone conversations with Kononenko, the main subject of this investigation
The editorial staff verified their authenticity by conducting the examination in the United States, compared them with events of that time, and verified the truth to the smallest details. And we will make them public for the first time in this report.
Who is Dmytro Kryuchkov?
In April 2018, former Member of Parliament and businessman Dmytro Kryuchkov was arrested in Germany at the request of Ukrainian law enforcement agencies.
Former Member of Parliament and businessman Dmytro Kryuchkov was arrested in Germany in April 2018
The NABU detectives and anti-corruption prosecutors suspect him of stealing funds from Zaporizhzhyaoblenergo, where over 60 percent of shares belong to the state. The little-known last name Kryuchkov also appears in other investigations of law-enforcement agencies. And the state’s losses are estimated at billions of hryvnias.
The NABU detective Roman Voityuk states the amount of losses in proceedings: “At present, the National Bureau is investigating criminal proceedings, where Kryuchkov, as well as other subjects made losses in the amount more than 1.4 billion UAH.”
He explains: “Kryuchkov Dmytro Vasylyovych acted not alone. He was given instructions by other persons, and he followed these instructions. At present, we establish all involved subjects, including those who gave these instructions.”
The NABU detective Roman Voityuk states the amount of losses
In 2016, Kryuchkov was put on the wanted list.
Dmytro Kryuchkov is former Member of Parliament. In 2006, he was the member of Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc for one year and a half. He worked in Fuel and Energy Complex Committee. In 2014, he became the head of the private company Energomerezha. And it took control over the work of several oblenergos already in a year.
In 2014, former Member of Parliament Dmytro Kryuchkov became the head of the private company Energomerezha, which took under control the work of several oblenergos in a year
But Kryuchkov himself is not perceived as an independent figure, says Oleksiy Shalaiskyi, the editor-in-chief of the Internet-site Nashi Groshi: “Everyone understands that Kryuchkov is the representative of someone’s interests,” he says. There is a problem to clearly state whose interests are represented by Kryuchkov or anyone else who is similar to him. This is some kind of transferable banner. There are people who are “watching”, and people who run companies, where money is transferred.”
Former Member of Parliament and businessman Dmytro Kryuchkov
How did Dmytro Kryuchkov managed to build large-scale schemes throughout the country? In whose interests did he work? And who is his patron in power?
Shalaiskyi recalls that after the Revolution of Dignity another famous name appeared next to Kryuchkov’s name: “Sometimes we saw him near Surkis-Kryuchkov. But at that time Surkis was very close to the authorities. In the interview several people, including state managers, called him Kononenko’s protege.”
Schemes were able to receive recordings of telephone conversations of the businessman Dmytro Kryuchkov. Thanks to them you can hear answers to these questions. Events took place in the period of spring and summer 2015, when the vertical of power was finally formed after the revolutionary events. Different directions are fixed on specific curators and performers. The expertise proved the high probability that callers’ voices are authentic.
At one of them, the closest associate of the President Poroshenko Ihor Kononenko with the knowledge of the case is interested in the flow of payments through the businessman Dmytro Kryuchkov.
Kononenko: Tell me, please, when do you plan exactly to “close the deal” in Kharkiv?
Kryuchkov: Two weeks. The deadline is two weeks.
Kononenko: Well, that’s bad. They will start “attacks” regarding this debt next week.
Kryuchkov: No, Ihor Vitaliyovych, we … he met the Minister. Yes, we made the deal.
Why does the Member of Parliament, the closest associate of the President “coordinate positions” with the businessman Kryuchkov? The anti-corruption authorities will accuse the latter of causing losses to the budget in the amount of billions two years later. What role does Kononenko play in the scheme? And does the President know about it?
Sweet spot of Ukrainian energy
There are 25 oblenergos in Ukraine. These companies supply electricity to Ukrainians.
Each oblenergo collects billions of hryvnias from consumers annually. This is the sweet fruit for many businessmen. And these structures are almost completely transferred into private hands.
But controlling stakes of six oblenergos are still in the hands of the state. Therefore, the decision on activities of these companies depends on the authorities. The one who came to the power is tempted to take an advantage of that.
Control packets of 6 out of 25 Ukrainian oblenergos are still owned by the state
The analysis of open criminal proceedings regarding the withdrawal of money from oblenergos into private pockets under the patronage of top authorities and telephone conversations of directly involved people led journalists to Kharkiv, Cherkassy and Zaporizhzhya.
Zaporizhzhyaoblenergo is the large supplier of electricity to consumers throughout Zaporizhzhya region. The controlling stake of Zaporizhzhyaoblenergo belongs to the state represented by the State Property Fund. But back in 2015, the real control over the enterprise was conducted by minority shareholders: brothers Hryhoriy and Ihor Surkis, owners of Dynamo Kyiv football club. Dmytro Kryuchkov worked for these businessmen in that period.
Although, the controlling stake of Zaporizhzhyaoblenergo belongs to the state, real control over the enterprise was conducted by Hryhoriy and Ihor Surkis since 2015
The journalist of the web-site Economic Truth Dmytro Ryasnyi explains the connection of Surkis brothers with Energomerezha on the example of football: “The distribution of roles is something like football. There are attacking players, there are defenders, there are club owners. In this case, Surkis brothers, as they own the club Dynamo Kyiv, they also owned the club of unofficial earnings on Energomerezhi.
The journalist of the edition Economic Truth Dmytro Ryasnyi explains the connection of Surkis brothers with Energomerezha
But in this scheme, as it now turns out, there was another link. There is one of fragments of the conversation below that Schemes received.
Kryuchkov: Ihor Vitaliyovych, I will say literally two words.
Kryuchkov: Look, as for «Ze» – as for «Ze» we will decide on Tuesday.
“Ze” means Zaporizhzhyaoblenergo here. And Ihor Vitaliyovych is the close associate of Petro Poroshenko Ihor Kononenko.
During the conversation on April 19, 2015, Dmytro Kryuchkov reports to Kononenko that they have already created the scheme how to disrupt the meeting of shareholders of Zaporizhzhyaoblenergo scheduled for April 21. They plan not to allow to change the chairman at the meeting.
Kryuchkov: We have already thought of everything. We have already found the register and the registrar. In short, nothing will happen on Tuesday. Nothing will happen anyway.
Indeed, in two days the story of how the unknown attempted to disrupt this meeting was broadcasted on TV.
“Today, a dozen fighters came to Zaporizhzhya, where there was the meeting of local oblenergo. Prior to that, the police received the call with information on mining the place where they had to hold the meeting. As the result, the meeting was held with the participation of only one shareholder and without the register. The heads of Zaporizhzhyaoblenergo are going to appeal it in the court,” it was reported on 1+1 TV Channel back then.
Schemes analyzed the agenda of those meetings of the company and found that on that day it was planned to terminate powers of the head of Zaporizhzhyaoblenergo Ihor Kornilenkov. Kryuchkov, Surkis brothers and, as it turned out, Ihor Kononenko himself tried to prevent this. Because Kornilenkov was their protagonist.
Ihor Kornilenkov, the head of Zaporizhzhyaoblenergo, is the protagonist of Surkis brothers
But they had political and business opponents. The businessman Kostyantyn Grygoryshyn and at that time MP from the People’s Front Mykola Martynenko sought to establish their CEO as the head of energy company. At that time they had significant trump card, namely the State Property Fund was headed by Dmytro Parfenenko, appointed by Yatsenyuk government then. The Fund itself, as the holder of majority of shares, could dismiss the old one and appoint the new CEO of oblenergo.
The Property Fund, as the holder of majority of shares, could dismiss the old and appoint the new CEO of oblenergo
That’s why Kryuchkov openly complained to Kononenko in those days about the lack of control over the State Property Fund.
Kryuchkov: Yes and Dima, Dima DN. I mean Dima who…
Kryuchkov: You got it, right? We couldn’t reach him since Friday and …
Kononenko: Okey, I understand.
Dima, DN is Dmitriy Nikolayevich Parfenenko in Russian. He was acting deputy head of the State Property Fund at that time. And GM is Grigoriy Mikhailovich Surkis.
After doubtful in terms of the legitimacy of shareholders’ meeting, Zaporizhzhyaoblenergo received two heads with the authority to sign. One of them was the henchman of Surkis brothers, the other was the henchman of Grygoryshyn.
At the end of that day, Hryhoriy Surkis called Kryuchkov, who was obliged to prevent such dual power.
Kryuchkov: Yes, Hryhoriy Mykhailovych.
Gr. Surkis: Well, are you alive or not?
Gr. Surkis: Where are you?
Kryuchkov: At home, in front of the computer.
Gr. Surkis: In front of the computer. Do you know what is going on in Zaporizhzhya?
Kryuchkov: I know. In details.
Gr. Surkis: In details? And what? What do you think about it? Maybe it was necessary not to drink vodka, but to switch on the brain?
Kryuchkov: Well, I immediately wrote the message about them. I knew that they were coming and that they had the already prepared protocol.
The interlocutors are discussing how not to lose control over oblenergos despite everything. The contact with the President’s associate, Kononenko, is something like the alarm button at tough time.
Gr. Surkis: Well, we need the judicial decision on this issue!
Kryuchkov: The judicial decision and contact with the governor. The governor has to give the command not to accept the documents to the position of the head of the registration service. Or he has to take them and refuse.
Gr. Surkis: One more time. The governor has to give the command to the head of the registration service?
Kryuchkov: Yes, the registration service is where the changes are made.
Gr. Surkis: Write quickly to Ihor Vitaliyovych. Write quickly what to do. And I’ll talk to him. Quickly.
Why Kryuchkov, Surkis and Kononenko needed to leave their protégé Kornilenkov as the director of Zaporizhzhyaoblenergo?
Dmytry Kryuchkov, Surkis brothers, Ihor Kononenko
Without him it probably would not be possible to implement the corruption scheme investigated by NABU and already found illegal in Ukrainian courts. The scheme which brought at least half a billion hryvnias of losses to the semi-state Zaporizhzhyaoblenergo and therfore benefits to its inventors.
In 2015, Zaporizhzhyaoblenergo agreed that large local industrial enterprises would pay for already supplied electricity to the privately-owned company of Kryuchkov Energomerezha. And this company, in its turn, should give money to the supplier then. The following factories of oligarchs used these simple tripartite agreements: Zaporizhzhya Titanium Magnesium Combine, Dniprospetsstal and Zaporizhzhya Ferroalloy Plant. However, Zaporizhzhyaoblenergo didn’t receive these money for electricity from Kryuchkov. Thus, only in 2015 the semi-state enterprise did not receive half a billion hryvnias.
The scheme, which brought losses in the amount of half a billion hryvnias to the semi-state Zaporizhzhyaoblenergo
It seems that Surkis brothers appreciated Kryuchkov as the smart implementer of their energy schemes. During the conversation Dmytro boasts how he received money from oligarchs according to these agreements to the accounts of his company instead of accounts of the semi-state oblenergos.
І. Surkis: Hello, Dima. Did you call me?
Kryuchkov: Yes, Ihor Mykhailovych. I just could not reach Hryhoriy Mykhailovych. But I did everything there. You know, right?
І. Surkis: What exactly, Dimulko. Please, tell me.
Kryuchkov: Well, 143 from «Ze». Firstly
І. Surkis: Well.
Kryuchkov: Secondly, from the bearded friend another 22.
І. Surkis: No way. You got them?
Kryuchkov: … Oh, I do not know. It seems to me that I’m the world champion during the last week.
І. Surkis: How much do you have to get?
Kryuchkov: Well, tomorrow another 20.
І. Surkis: Well.
Kryuchkov: And next week 20 more.
І. Surkis: Good job, Dimulya.
The official investigation found that part of received money from these companies was transferred into cash. Probably in order to distribute them among various participants of the corruption scheme. Judging from received conversations by Schemes, Kryuchkov regularly gives instructions to take different amounts of money to the office of Surkis brothers.
Dmytro Kryuchkov, Surkis brothers
Did the MP Ihor Kononenko have the financial benefit from schemes of Surkis-Kryuchkov to whom the latter regularly reported?
In particular, this conversation between Kryuchkov and Surkis testifies about the receipt of money by Kononenko. The associate of the President is called Vitaliyovych in it.
Kryuchkov: Look, tomorrow around 12, I’ll have four zero zero, that I collected. And at 14 p.m., I will have the meeting on last month budget with the friend. Well. Therefore, maybe I will bring it to Oksana to the reception room?
Gr. Surkis: I do not quite understand. With whom do you have the meeting on the budget?
Kryuchkov: With Vitaliyovych. With Vitaliyovych.
Gr. Surkis: Ok.
Kryuchkov: He asked to give reports on the past month …
Gr. Surkis: And
Kryuchkov: According to these reports, I will also write there what we had already given to Ihor and what …
Gr. Surkis: Belongs to him?
Kryuchkov: And what belongs to him?
Gr. Surkis: How much does belong to him?
Kryuchkov: Around 430. 430 with «something».
Gr. Surkis: Okey, give it to him.
Top level corruption at Zaporizhzhyaoblenergo has been investigated by the NABU detectives since 2015. There are 2 suspects currently in the case, namely Dmytro Kryuchkov and former head of Zaporizhzhyaoblenergo Ihor Kornilenkov. The latter, according to detectives, is hiding from Ukrainian justice in Russia.
But Surkis brothers with Ihor Kononenko put their eyes not only on Zaporizhzhyaoblenergo, but also on other energy companies with the controlling state stake.
In the conversation between Hryhoriy Surkis and Kryuchkov, which took place after the scandalous meeting of shareholders of Zaporizhzhyaoblenergo, where they tried to change the leadership loyal to the businessmen, they refer to Cherkasyoblenergo with the fear of the repetition of the story at Zaporizhzhya.
Gr. Surkis: Will they make the same thing on Friday in Cherkassy?
Kryuchkov: Well, there is different situation in Cherkassy.
Gr. Surkis: Which one? Are we safe in Cherkassy?
Kryuchkov: There is much better situation in Cherkassy. Everything is guaranteed there.
Cherkassyoblenergo provides electricity to consumers in Cherkassy region. Not only people from the President’s environment have their interest there. It seems that the team of the Prime Minister (at that time) Arseniy Yatsenyuk also planned to establish control over the enterprise. But Kryuchkov managed to keep this right for himself thanks to his influential connections with Bankova.
Cherkassyoblenergo provides electricity to consumers of Cherkassy region
The controlling stake in Cherkassyoblenergo, as well as in the case with Zaporizhzhya, belongs to the state in the person of the State Property Fund. Svitlana Kuzminska, at that time partner of Dmytro Kryuchkov, who was loyal to Surkis brothers, directly controlled the enterprise in 2015.
Svitlana Kuzminska, who was loyal to Surkis brothers, directly controlled Cherkassyoblenergo in 2015
It is heard on one of recordings that she picks up Kryuchkov’s phone instead of him and gives Kryuchkov’s driver Andriy the instruction to bring 600,000 USD in cash to the reception of Surkis brothers.
Andriy: Yes, Dmytro Vasylyovych.
Svitlana: No. That’s Svitlana.
Andriy: Yes, Svitlana.
Svitlana: Andriy, is that you?
Andriy: Yes, that’s me. Yes.
Svitlana: Andriy, listen. You need to go to Savage, pick up the money and bring 600 to the reception of Ihor Mykhailovych.
Andriy: Ihor Mykhailovych, right?
Svitlana: Ihor-Ihor, yes. Here. And the rest to the office.
Andriy: Okey. 600 bring to Ihor Mykhailovych, and the rest bring to the office and give to Natasha?
Andriy: Okey. I understand.
The NABU detectives also found the scheme for withdrawal of money in Cherkassy. It was identical to the one in Zaporizhzhya which was investigated by them. The head of Cherkassyoblenergo Kuzminska, Kryuchkov’s Energomerezha and Firtash’s enterprise Azot, according to the investigation, agreed that for the supplied electricity Azot will pay to Kryuchkov. And he afterwards will give the money to oblenergo.
So Energomerezha received almost 300 million UAH. But oblenergo did not give the money.
Kryuchkov’s Energomerezha received from Firtash’s Azot almost 300 million UAH and kept them instead of transferring to Cherkassyoblenergo
The third region is Kharkiv. This is another region where Dmytro Kryuchkov and Surkis brothers had considerable appetites in power engineering. And thanks to connections at the highest state level, they implemented their plans.
Kharkivoblenergo is local electricity supplier. It is regularly on the list of the largest Ukrainian enterprises. Its net income in 2015 was almost 5 billion UAH.
As of 2015, the main owners of Kharkivoblenergo were the State Property Fund and Cypriot firm, which is part of the business group of Kostyantyn Grygoryshyn.
In 2015, the main owners of Kharkivoblenergo were the State Property Fund and Cypriot firm, which is part of the business group of Konstantyn Grygoryshyn
Such profitable enterprise could not be outside of interests of of Dmytro Kryuchkov and his partners.
To control oblenergo, Kryuchkov and his associates sought to put loyal management at the enterprise, as they did in Zaporizhzhya and Cherkassy. In spring of the same year in 2015, they succeeded. It seems that they used the administrative resource.
Kryuchkov: Hello, Ihor Batkovych.
Kotvitskyi: Hello-hello. Дивись, я саме сиджу зараз із губернатором. Look, I’m sitting with the governor right now. Tell me, please, is there any news as for the package of documents? You tell me.
Kryuchkov: The document will be tomorrow. For sure.
Dmytro Kryuchkov calls to the man whose voice is similar to Ihor Kotvitskyi, the influential Member of Parliament from the People’s Front, and close associate of the Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov, who was playing in the same team with Poroshenko at that time.
Dmytro Kryuchkov, Ihor Kotvitskyi
Kotvitskyi: The question is who will have contact with the governor?
Kryuchkov: I personally.
Kotvitskyi: You will have contact with the governor, right?
Kryuchkov: I personally.
Kotvitskyi: I will now give your phone number then, okay? Your phone number. And I’ll ask the governor the permission to give you his phone number. And I’ll give you his phone number then.
By the phone Dmytro Kryuchkov not only contacts influential people from the president’s environment and enlists the support of the head of Kharkiv region. He assures that the situation regarding Kharkivoblenergo is under control of the President Poroshenko.
Kharkivoblenergo is regularly on the list of the largest Ukrainian enterprises
Kryuchkov: Another important information.
Kryuchkov: On Friday night we were in “P”.U “P”.
Kryuchkov: He approved. Personally.
Kotvitskyi: Wonderful. It will make things easier for us.
Kryuchkov: Okey and the contact person will be Ihor Kononenko.
Kotvitskyi: Okey. I got it.
Kryuchkov: The governor knows.
Kotvitskyi: Good, he knows. That is good. He knows him well. Perfect. Dima, we speak in one direction now. Then there will be understanding.
The head of Kharkiv region Ihor Raynin, who is mentioned in the conversation, is also the person close to Poroshenko. After being the head in Kharkiv, he will head his Presidential Administration.
Ihor Raynin, the head of Kharkiv region
The analysis of Kharkiv events in spring 2015, which Schemes conducted, disclosed that cases that were discussed in the telephone conversation by Kryuchkov and Kotvitskyi allegedly concerned changes of the leadership of Kharkivoblenergo to the controlled one. The day after that conversation the supervisory board of the energy company appointed the new acting head. It was Volodymyr Yavorskyi.
Volodymyr Yavorskyi was appointed as the acting head of Kharkivoblenergo the day after the telephone conversation of Kryuchkov and Kotvitskyi
But shortly after the appointment of Yavorskyi, the meeting of shareholders of Kharkivoblenergo had to take place. Representatives of the State Property Fund planned to change the supervisory board. Since at that time the state did not control the majority of it.
Telephone conversations that Schemes have analyzed prove that Kryuchkov together with partners tried to do everything not lose the control over oblenergo. Thus, he planned to disrupt the meeting.
Schemes had the recording of conversation as of May 19, 2015, when Kryuchkov called the assistant of Kononenko Vasyl Lisovyi and asked to urgently contact him with Poroshenko’s associate regarding the situation with the meeting of shareholders in Kharkiv. It turns out that the businessman is trying to solve the problem simply by the telephone with the support of the person close to the President.
Kryuchkov: Hello, Demyanovych?
Kryuchkov: Look. Short question. Can you call the boss? He gave me this governor. But he also gave me “IA”. You understand who is “IA”?
Kryuchkov: Look, the meeting will be in the state building. This is the regional building.
Kryuchkov: Here. We did not sign the lease agreement with them on purpose.
Kryuchkov: Agree this with the boss… I’m in Kharkiv. That I now … That I will call the governor and ask him to give the instruction to the director of the building to not let anyone in because there is no lease.
Lisovyi: Okey-okey. I will try now. Dima, I’m still trying to reach him. But I can not.
Kryuchkov: Demyanovych, we have half an hour.
Lisovyi: I know. He does not answer me. I know. Write the text message to him. I will try myself. And you write the message.
Kryuchkov: Let’s do it.
In an hour Kryuchkov called the head of Kharkivoblenergo Volodymyr Yavorskyi when he enters the reception of the advisor to the head of Kharkiv Regional State Administration Serhiy Storozhenko.
Yavorskyi: Yes-yes. I came to his reception room now.
Kryuchkov: Okey-okey, do not hang up.
Yavorskyi: All right. I understand. Good. Thank you … Hello, my last name is Yavorskyi. Thank you…
Kryuchkov asks Storozhenko to make sure that nobody is allowed to enter the meeting place, that means to apply the administrative pressure.
Kryuchkov: Hello, Serhiy Mykhailovych?
Kryuchkov: Hello, this is Dmytro Kryuchkov. If needed Ihor can confirm my authority.
Kryuchkov: Serhiy Mykhailovych, look, we have a question. We had planned meeting of shareholders in Derzhprom building. Well. Kharkivoblenergo did not conclude the agreement on the lease of the assembly hall … I just called Raynin, yes. The second entrance lobby. The request is following. There is the director of this derzhprom Chekhunov.
Storozhenko: Tell me, what do you need?
Kryuchkov: I need that nobody can come in. Because there is no lease agreement. And the agreement was not concluded with anyone.
Storozhenko: Once again. Does oblenergo concluded the agreement?
Kryuchkov: No, they didn’t conclude. On the contrary. They didn’t conclude.
Storozhenko: They didn’t conclude, did they? And do you want to hold the meeting there?
Kryuchkov: On the contrary. We don’t want. On the contrary, we do not want it to happen. We want nobody to enter because there is no agreement.
Kryuchkov: Today. Today at 12 a.m.
Storozhenko: 12. Well, you call quite late. Let’s try.
Kryuchkov: Thanks a lot. Thank you.
On the same day, but a little later, Kryuchkov reports to Surkis that everything goes as planned.
Kryuchkov: Yes, Ihor Mykhailovych, hello.
І. Surkis: Well, what’s the news?
Kryuchkov: Everything is good. Goes as planned.
І. Surkis: For instance?
Kryuchkov: Not on the phone. Everything is good.
І. Surkis: Okey, bye.
Kryuchkov: Yes, everything is good.
TV news on April 19 confirm that the meeting was disrupted. The Supervisory Board was not changed, and Kryuchkov’s protege remained at the helm of Kharkivoblenergo. In order to further assist this businessman in organizing schemes for the withdrawal of hundreds of millions from oblenergo.
By coincidence, on the same day, when the meeting of shareholders was disrupted, the Verkhovna Rada voted for the new head of the State Property Fund. Instead of Dmytro Parfenenko Ihor Bilous was appointed under the quota Petro Poroshenko Bloc. He is very comfortable top official, with whom it is easier to find agreement for Kryuchkov’s partners.
Dmytro Ryasnyi, the journalist of Economichna Pravda, explained the role of the State Property Fund in this scheme: “The most important institution that should just do nothing and close its eyes was the State Property Fund, the manager of oblenergo. He took surprisingly long and lasting pause in all of these agreements. Although, as far as I understand, the control is conducted on quarterly basis, they could quickly calculate and stop it all”.
Later, Kryuchkov reports to Hryhoriy Surkis about the meeting with Bilous, the newly appointed head of the Fund.
Kryuchkov: Yes, Hryhoriy Mykhailovych, I just call from another phone number.
Gr. Surkis: Yes. And?…
Kryuchkov: Well. Today I had the meeting with Ihor from the Fund at 8.
Gr. Surkis: Yes.
Kryuchkov: We had a very interesting and long conversation. Well. He told that they were there. He was at the meeting where Borys was, was the leader and was the person whom I met.
Kryuchkov’s telephone conversations with Kharkivoblenergo continued in June. The companion of the President Ihor Kononenko has the direct contact with him, gives instructions on financial transactions, and asks for the report to Dmytro Vovk, their associate with Poroshenko at the National Commission for Energy and Utilities, former manager of Roshen Corporation.
Kryuchkov: Hello. Hello-hello.
Kononenko: Yes, Dima, good afternoon.
Kononenko: Please tell me, when do you plan to “close” in Kharkiv?
Kryuchkov: The deadline is two weeks.
Kononenko: Well. Go to Vovk in the National Commission, which conducts state regulation in the field of energy and show all these documents.
Kryuchkov: I will come tomorrow in the morning.
Kononenko: Okey. Do it.
Schemes found examples of why Dmytro Kryuchkov with partners needed the control over Kharkivoblenergo, to earn on schemes they developed with the participation of this energy company. One of these is when this state enterprise provided tens of millions of financial assistance to companies associated with the management of Kryuchkov. And they hoped to get them back. But Kharkivoblenergo didn’t receive this money.
One of such schemes was investigated by the National Police. It announced the suspicion to the head of Kharkivoblenergo Volodymyr Yavorskyi, whose name often appears in telephone conversations regarding Kharkiv.
In summer 2018, Yavorskyi even received the verdict. He had to pay only one million UAH pledge and 119,000 UAH fine. More than one hundred million funds that were withdrawn from the company were not repaid.
Dmytro Kryuchkov escaped from Ukraine. At first he went to Russia, and then, being wanted, he went to Germany. He was arrested there by local police. This meant the start of the extradition procedure in Ukraine. There was movement in the government because Kryuchkov could talk on questionings.
Oleksiy Shalaiskyi suggests that his return will be uncomfortable to many people: “He worked with too many people. Too many people are not interested in him starting to speak.”
In April 2018, Schemes managed to record how a couple of days after Kryuchkov’s arrest in Germany, the cortege used by Surkis brothers visited the Presidential Administration.
Few days after Kryuchkov’s arrest in Germany, the cortege used by Surkis brothers visited the PA
Then simultaneously with Surkis brothers, the MP from Petro Poroshenko Bloc, who was called the curator of the judicial system and the Prosecutor’s Office Oleksander Granovskyi, also visited the PA.
Then simultaneously with Surkis brothers the MP Oleksandr Granovskyi also visited the PA
In the same month Schemes recorded the second visit of Surkis brothers to the Presidential Administration of Poroshenko. And again from the side entrance to the PA along with cars with guards of brothers-businessmen there was the car of MP Granovskyi.
In the same month Schemes recorded the second visit of Surkis brothers to the PA
And again from the side entrance to the PA along with cars with guards of brothers-businessmen there was the car of MP Granovskyi
It seems that the President came to the Presidential Administration exactly for the meeting with Surkis brothers on his day off. After the arrival of Poroshenko, the car entered the territory of the Administration. It is used by Surkis brothers. And half an hour after the departure of Surkis brothers, the President also left the Administration.
Surkis brothers denied their involvement in Kryuchkov’s activity. Although, according to telephone conversations, he conducted his activity under their guidance.
The role of Surkis brothers in the scheme is officially investigated by the NABU. They were summoned several times for the questioning, but as witnesses.
The role of Surkis brothers in the scheme is officially investigated by the NABU
In addition to establishing those involved in the crime, detectives are trying to return some lost money to accounts of semi-state oblenergos. To do this, they prove the illegality of tripartite agreements through the private company of the fugitive businessman Kryuchkov in the courts.
The detective of the Bureau Roman Voityuk shares the success: “All appeals are satisfied. And for now the compensation of more than 150 million UAH is guaranteed.”
However, as for Ihor Kononenko himself, according to the detective, the NABU still could not find the documentary evidence of the personal benefit of the President’s associate, but his role within the framework of this proceeding is also investigated.
Currently, there is no documentary evidence in the criminal proceeding that would confirm the involvement of Ihor Vitaliyovych Kononenko in committing regarding corruption criminal offenses. However, this information is interesting to us and we are checking it,” added Roman Voityuk.
Abandoned in Germany
In order to find Dmytro Kryuchkov himself Schemes went to Germany.
After his arrest by local law enforcement officers in 2018, he stayed in jail only for a month. Hence, the German court released Kryuchkov for the pledge of 100,000 EUR, assuming that he would not leave Germany until the issue of his extradition to Ukraine is being solved.
Since last summer Dmytro Kryuchkov has been registered in German Munich, at 10 Törringstr, in quite prosperous area. But we didn’t find him there.
When journalists came to Munich, their sources in law enforcement agencies reported that Dmytro Kryuchkov is arrested again. He refused to seek the political asylum and voluntarily agreed to the so-called extradition arrest: he wants to be returned to Ukraine more quickly.
Kryuchkov is waiting for his extradition in Stadhelheim prison. This is one of the largest prisons in Germany. His phone number is inactive, since prisoners are restricted to use their mobile phones. In order to visit him in prison, one must receive the permission at Munich Prosecutor General’s Office. And then they will choose the date of the meeting in prison.
However, Schemes managed to find the phone number of Svitlana Kuzminska, former head of Cherkassyoblenergo, who had close relations with Kryuchkov.
Svitlana Kuzminska, former head of Cherkassyoblenergo
She believes that Kryuchkov actually voluntarily gave himself up: “Ukraine needed him, but now Ukraine does not take him back,” she says. – That means that he is currently in jail, attorneys are waiting until Wednesday, they said: then we will send the appeal for his release, since he voluntarily went to the prison.”
However, Svitlana Kuzminska denies her possible participation in schemes of Kryuchkov and Surkis brothers.
– Do you personally know something about the influence and participation of the President Poroshenko and Ihor Kononenko in the activities of Dmytro Kryuchkov?
– I personally know nothing. I’m not the person of that level, you know.
– And what about Surkis brothers, namely Ihor and Hryhoriy. Do you know something about their involvement in business activities of Dmytro Kryuchkov?
– I know personally Dmytro Kryuchkov only. The rest I don’t know.
Moreover, Kuzminska believes that her and Krychkov’s life may be at the risk.
“There is some information that I must think about my life and Dmytro’s,” she said.
“Kononenko fulfilled the part of agreements, which was the area of responsibility of Poroshenko-Kononenko. The agreements were with them regarding Energomerezha, as well as Kharkiv-, Mykolayiv-, Zaporizhzhya-, Cherkassy-, Khmelnytskoblenergo, Tsentrenergo, OPZ, Odessa, Mykolayiv and other HPP and companies.
There were financial relations, of course. They, according to agreements, received from 50% to 75% of revenues from the business that was the subject of agreements.
(…) Do not consider Kononenko as the independent “business unit”. He only fulfilled local decisions, but he is not allowed to decide main agreements.
(…) Meetings were regular. The office of the PPB, 5th element, the Parliament and on neutral territory, if there were urgent issues.
(…) The main recipient (receiver) of income, of course, is Poroshenko.”
Kryuchkov reminded all participants of telephone conversations in written, confirmed the corruption interest of Poroshenko’s closest environment. At the same time, he refrained from sharp comments about Surkis brothers: he said he was getting help with connections, pieces of advice and personnel from them. When we asked whether Kryuchkov influenced on the activity of oblenergo and whether he used connections with officials or other public figures to resolve problems related to activities of Energomerezha, he replied briefly: “In developed countries, such relations have the official name – lobbyism.”
Conversations that the editorial staff received show that from budgets, operated by Kryuchkov, the money was taken for other representatives of the presidential vertical.
For instance, in the dialogue as of April 2015 it is said about transferring of one and a half million UAH to “the friend from Kharkiv, who is the first in region”. Probably it is the head (at that time) of Kharkiv Regional State Administration Ihor Raynin, current head of the PA. The transfer at the request of Borys Yevgenovych is obviously about Lozhkin, who at that time headed the Presidential Administration of Poroshenko.
Kryuchkov: There’s a small question. I think that you will agree it. There’s a friend from Kharkiv, yes, the first in the region. Well.
Gr. Surkis: Yes.
Kryuchkov: He asked for help. Well. I called Ihor. Ihor said that it should be our side. He insisted. I said: listen, I write it in reports, namely where. And he said: this is Borys Yevgenovych’s request.
Gr. Surkis: So, what do they need there?
Kryuchkov: No. Well, I have already given him 1,5. And this is ours. 67 of these.
Gr. Surkis: Yes.
Kryuchkov: Well. I called you. But couldn’t reach you.
Gr. Surkis: Well. Well, you gave them. Include it in total expenses.
Reactions of subjects
Therefore, Schemes asked for comments key subjects mentioned in the material.
At first, we decided to contact former heads of oblenergo – however, we could not speak with Ihor Kornilenkov, former official of Zaporizhzhyaoblenergo, because he was hiding in Russia. And nobody answered in the company which was registered there.
However, Volodymyr Yavorskyi, former head of Kharkivoblenergo, turned out to be short-spoken when he heard the question whether he had received directions from Dmytro Kryuchkov earlier: “No comments. I am very uncomfortable to speak. And I will not speak about it.”
But the advisor to the head of Kharkiv Regional State Administration Serhiy Storozhenko stated that he could not even recall Kryuchkov’s face, and therefore his request not let anyone into Kharkivoblenergo shareholders’ meeting: “It didn’t happen. I did not talk about this,” he said. – If you show me who he is, Dmytry Kryuchkov, I could hardly recognize him. We have no relationship at all. There was any and there will be none, as far as I understand.”
Former head of the State Property Fund Dmytro Parfenenko, who was mentioned in the conversation between Kryuchkov and Hryhoriy Surkis, said that there is nothing in common with participants of the scheme regarding the withdrawal of funds from semi-state companies.
Former head of the State Property Fund Dmytro Parfenenko
It was difficult to recall events of 2015 to Poroshenko’s placeman at the National Commission for State Regulation of Energy Dmytro Vovk, to whom Kryuchkov was instructed to give the report by Kononenko: “I’m sorry, but I can not comment it. It was a long time ago, I do not remember. It is uncomfortable to talk.”
The influential Member of Parliament from the People’s Front Ihor Kotvytskyi, whose voice is on one of telephone conversations, also does not recall who Kryuchkov is:
“I do not know who Kryuchkov is,” he briefly replied journalists.
Member of Parliament from the People’s Front Ihor Kotvytskyi
At the same time, Schemes also sent requests to already mentioned in telephone conversations former head of Kharkiv region, and now the head of the Presidential Administration of Poroshenko Ihor Raynin and Borys Lozhkin, who, on the contrary, was the head of the Administration in 2015.
Ihor Raynin and Borys Lozhkin
As for facilitating the establishment of control over oblenergo thanks to close relations with Poroshenko Lozhkin denied everything. He briefly explained his connection with Surkis brothers and denied connections with Kryuchkov:
“Borys Lozhkin knows Surkis brothers about 25 years. For several years they had joint business (the newspaper Komanda). Since 2014, there is no business relationship between Lozhkin and Surkis brothers. However, both Hryhoriy and Ihor Surkis have been members of the Supervisory Board of the Jewish Confederation of Ukraine, led by Borys Lozhkin, during 20 years, according to the response of his Press Service. “There were no and there are no connections between Mr. Kryuchkov and Borys Lozhkin.”
Ihor and Hryhoriy Surkis also received questions from journalists about their role in Kryuchkov’s schemes in the energy sector. But we did not receive the response before broadcasting.
Journalists tried to receive comments from Ihor Kononenko on the phone. They went to his office and sent him full list of questions. In his letter Kononenko promised to give interview after the broadcast.
Schemes also decided to ask directly the President whether he knows that his associate Ihor Kononenko obviously helped Surkis brothers and businessman Kryuchkov in withdrawal of hundreds of millions from semi-state oblenergo.
And they went to Vinnytsya region where Petro Poroshenko toured as the President in the morning. And after dinner he became the candidate at rallies. However, journalists were not able to approach him and ask questions.
Iron frames were installed on the main square of Khmilnyk. People were allowed to go there only according to the lists. The accreditation for the press was not conducted.
The square in Khmilnyk, where Petro Poroshenko has the meeting, is under strengthened guard
“No, no, they told not to let the press in,” said guards without explaining reasons for the refusal. – If they are not on lists, then no …. You can write the complain to the Office of Public Security.”
Moreover, Schemes journalists saw how other people from the lists freely entered the territory of the rally.
As the result, journalists tried to literally shout to the President, but they did not receive any response.
Later the similar situation happened in Vinnytsya. Schemes followed Poroshenko there. Journalists tried to literally shout to the President again.
The square in Vinnytsya, where Petro Poroshenko has the meeting, is under strengthened guard
They didn’t respond to the written request of the program at Poroshenko before broadcasting.
Telephone conversations, which editors have, not only confirm complex transactions in energy sector in the amount of hundreds of millions of Ukrainian UAH. They shed light on the role of Ihor Kononenko, the closest associate of the President, his army friend and business partner.
It turns out that the goal of Surkis brothers and their manager Dmytro Kryuchkov was to establish control over activities of semi-state energy supply companies: Zaporizhzhyaoblenergo, Cherkassyoblenergo, Kharkivoblenergo. And they got support of the Member of Parliament Ihor Kononenko. Judging by the analyzed conversations, with the help of his patronage that they managed to organize several schemes for the withdrawal of funds from these enterprises and make losses to the state.
Hundreds million hryvnias probably have settled in pockets of several people.
Results of the examination
In order to receive the independent assessment of telephone conversations, Schemes sent samples to experts from the National Center for Media Expertise, the Education and Research Center at the University of Colorado in Denver, USA, created with the support of the United States Department of Justice.
The Center researches the collection, analysis, interpretation of audiovisual content received during investigations and trials, and cooperates with the US government.
Schemes sent to experts – the director of the National Center for Media Expertise, Associate Professor at the University of Colorado Catalin Grigoras and researcher, deputy director of the Center Jeff Smith – the received audio files with samples of voices from the public speeches of people we were able to recognize. They asked to analyze whether they coincide?
The expert studied voices of five people without knowing who they are. These are Dmytro Kryuchkov, Ihor Kononenko, Ihor Kotvytskyi, Ihor and Hryhoriy Surkis.
Member of Parliament from the People’s Front Ihor Kotvytskyi
The examination of all voices gave the positive result. We received high probability rates of similarity of voices according to the scale provided by this methodology.
This journalistic investigation is not the official investigation. But the editorial staff did everything possible to verify this socially important information before publishing.
by Skhemy (Schemes), a joint project by RFE/ RL’s Ukrainian Service and Ukraine’s UA:Pershy television