Sergei Vitalievich Zakharov, a member of the Board of Directors and owner of a Russian oil company has received a Bulgarian “golden” passport against investment in the country. He is linked with a secret offshore from the Pandora Papers. In his effort to obtain Bulgarian citizenship he has been helped by lawyer Boyan Novakov, current member of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) and a supporter of controversial Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev.
Zakharov is the son of Vitaly Alexandrovich Zakharov (1953-2016) – a former director of Gazprom , a former lawmaker from the United Russia Party, shot in 2016 with a hunting riffle while walking his dog. Zakharov’s father is also the founder of the private “Museum of the History of Cold Weapons“, which bears his name.
Boyan Novanski is among the Bulgarian lawyers authorized by Sergei Zakharov. Novanski has consulted dozens of foreigners candidates for “golden” passports through investments. He is now a member of the SJC from the majority supporting Geshev. Earlier, Mediapool reported that Novansky had consulted two Russians who had received Bulgarian citizenship.
Sergey Zakharov became a Bulgarian citizen by Decree 129 of August 23, 2018, file number 7630/2017. In the year when he applied for citizenship, he registered the Bulgarian Almax Finance based in Sofia. The capital of the company when it was founded on September 5, 2017 was BGN 1,000, and subsequently on February 15, 2018 it was increased to BGN 51,472. The second installment is non-monetary as it is in the form of property ownership in a SPA hotel in the winter resort of Bansko.
Zakharov’s company reported a modest BGN 87,000 in revenue and BGN 37,000 in profit for 2020, compared to BGN 65,000 in revenue and BGN 19,000 in profit a year earlier as a reference in the reports submitted to the Commercial Register reveals. However, the amount of the investment is not enough for citizenship and Zakharov probably bought government securities or deposited money in a Bulgarian bank, as the law on Bulgarian citizenship provided at the time.
Bulgarian – owner of Russian oil companySergei Zakharov became a shareholder in Neftepererabotchik JSC in April 2016, when his father was a member of the company’s Board of Directors and three months before Zakharov Senior’s murder. The protocol explicitly states that two are related as they are father and son. The report from the last general meeting of shareholders on April 23, 2021 shows that Zakharov owns 20% of the shares and has been re-elected as a member of the Board of Directors.
The available information on the website of Neftepererabotchik JSC does not contain photos of the members of the Board of Directors and of the shareholders. The minutes of the general meetings of the shareholders do not show that Sergei Zakharov presents himself as a shareholder – an individual Bulgarian citizen.
Zakharov is listed as a founder in a total of 14 companies and a manager in four companies in Russia, some of which have been already closed. Among them is the non-profit company running the Cold Weapons History Museum, named after his father.
In the Pandora Papers Zakharov appears as the ultimate owner of an offshore company from the British Virgin Islands – Blanefield Investments Limited, in which he is a partner with Alexander Smirnov. There is no information about the assets of this company.
BIRD.BG has data on the persons who have received “golden” passports as investors and is conducting a journalistic investigation into their connections with business and politics.
Top Russian bankers are among the new Bulgarians who have received golden passports against investments. These are Dmitri Kushaev, Credit Suisse Head Russia, Roman Nagaev, Head of Investment, Credit & Project Finance at the Russian investment bank VTB Capital and Igor Finogenov, former Chairman of the Management Board of the Eurasian Development Bank and a person close to people in power as evidenced by his photos with former President and former Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Medvedev. In the first article in the series, BIRD revealed the golden passport of Roman Savushkin, obtained at the time when he was the General Director of the United Wagon Company, a strategically important enterprise in Russia.
A check in the Property Register shows that they do not own property in Bulgaria, and a check in the Trade Register shows that they do not own or manage companies, i.e. they have not invested in the real economy, but probably have bought government securities or have deposited money in a Bulgarian bank, as provided by the law on Bulgarian citizenship.
A hacker who has attacked Ukraine from Bulgarian territory also received a Bulgarian golden passport. The goal of the attack has been demonstrating the capabilities of a cyber-attack system to a head of the Russian intelligence services
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