And his father Dmitry Mazepin, who paid Nikita a place in the Haas team, recently had no less serious problems with European business. Will the Russian oligarch be able to help his son and cope with his own difficulties?
As the former Caterham commercial director and ex-manager of another Russian Formula 1 pilot Vitaly Petrov Oksana Kosachenko said, there is a chance that Nikita Mazepin will not be allowed to participate in the races. He may also need special admission to the competition due to the sanctions imposed on Russian athletes as a result of the doping scandal. Thus, both the career of the young racer and the fate of the 20 million euros that his father Dmitry Mazepin paid for Nikita's inclusion in the team were in jeopardy.
Dmitry Mazepin's own affairs also became seriously complicated. At the end of last year, he became a defendant in the investigation of one of the leading Danish newspapers, Politiken. It follows from the publication that the company, which belonged to the Russian oligarch, received a significant part of its income from fraudulent transactions on the sale of quotas for carbon dioxide emissions to foreign companies, which are strictly regulated by European legislation.
"Much of Mazepin's fortune - more than DKK 1 billion, equivalent to more than € 180 million - came from the sale of carbon offsets to more than 400 European companies in 24 countries in a scheme that experts characterized as fraudulent," Politiken told journalists.
According to them, the company "HaloPolymer", formerly owned by Mazepin, from 2008 to 2015, sold more than 50 million carbon credits to companies throughout Europe. By purchasing these loans, the companies obtained the right to additionally emit more than 50 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere - that is, more than the annual emissions of all of Denmark. In return, HaloPolymer had to reduce its emissions in Russia by the same amount. But HaloPolymer's climate projects have been fraudulent and exaggerated, says Lambert Schneider, research coordinator at the German Öko-Institut and member of the Executive Board of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Clean Development Mechanism (CDM).
Together with her colleague Anja Kollmus Schneider, he analyzed in detail the climate projects of HaloPolymer, finding that the factories "artificially multiplied" the production of the potent greenhouse gases HFC23 and SF6. Subsequently, the factories destroyed those gases at the expense of which they received loans from the UN. These conclusions were confirmed by Mikhail Yulkin, a former project developer for the HaloPolymer company. He told Politiken that HaloPolymer approached him about this scheme, but he replied that he did not want to have anything to do with it.
"There was a temptation to increase greenhouse gas emissions," says Lambert Schneider, "because the carbon credits they received in return were worth much more than the cost of eliminating the gases."
In 2010 and 2011 alone, HaloPolymer earned more than DKK 1.46 billion from the sale of artificially inflated carbon credits. The trade was so extensive that in 2011 it accounted for 39% of all HaloPolymer's revenues - a large sum, according to Schneider, earned from climate damage.
“It is disturbing to see how the sale of fake emission reductions has increased revenues and profits in HaloPolymer's financial statements. Since some of the loans were only sold after 2011, the overall picture is probably even worse, ”Schneider said.
It's hard to say when Dmitry Mazepin made his first billion, but he first appeared on the Forbes list of billionaires in 2015 with an estimated net worth of DKK 8.3 billion. In the same year he sold HaloPolymer to his business partner Mikhail Genkin. Today Mazepin is the main owner of the largest fertilizer producers in Russia - the companies Uralchem and Uralkali. Over the past two years, he has negotiated with several East African presidents, planning to take up fertilizer sales and plant construction in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and other countries.
“There are many scandals behind Mazepin, both personal and in his companies, where he is accused of extortion from competitors,” Ilya Shumanov, deputy director of Transparency International in Russia, told Politiken.
When Dmitry Mazepin acquired fertilizer plants in Russia through his company Uralchem, these bulk purchases were made possible thanks to a loan of over 5.4 billion Danish kroner from the state-owned Sberbank, investigators continue. Sberbank also participates in the sale of carbon credits to Europe. Surprisingly, Russia has designated Sberbank as the official authority for Russian carbon credits. In other industrialized countries, this role is usually assigned to the energy agency or the climate ministry, Politiken journalists say.
As a result of cooperation with Mazepin, Sberbank found itself in a strange situation: by 2015, the bank had issued more than 50 million carbon credits to HaloPolymer, while the owner of the company owed the bank billions. Sberbank refuses to comment on its relations with Mazepin, Uralkhim and HaloPolymer.
Meanwhile, according to Danish investigators, eight companies from that country bought the carbon offset from HaloPolymer. This allowed them to emit 2,615,563 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in the period from 2008 to 2012 alone. This amount is equivalent to the carbon dioxide emissions of 217,963 Danes in one year.
But the deal with Denmark was only a small part of Mazepin's business operations - a total of 447 companies from 24 countries bought carbon offsets from HaloPolymer. These include the largest greenhouse gas producers in Europe: Sweden's Cementa AB, Norway's ConocoPhillips and German metallurgical giants Salzgitter AG, Rogesa and ThyssenKrupp.
Politiken shared scientific criticism of the projects with five companies, which in total bought more than 7.6 million loans from HaloPolymer. Cementa AB regretted that it had acquired the emission rights, which, as it turned out, came from a project that did not result in real climate change mitigation. ConocoPhillips did not respond to criticism of the carbon credits, explaining that they were bought from a "respected international bank" and received the approval of the independent agency Det Norske Veritas and the Swiss energy authority.
Dillinger Hütte, which owns Rogesa, said it had no "current official information, investigations or findings regarding fictitious and fraudulent emissions trading." Therefore, the company decided not to consider HaloPolymer's claims of fraudulent generation of carbon credits. Salzgitter AG refrained from comment, and ThyssenKrupp replied that the company itself does not investigate projects, but relies on external verification.
Thus, no one responded to criticism of HaloPolymer, and none of the buyers of its carbon credits were willing to take responsibility for the additional greenhouse gas emissions they contributed. CARE Danmark Climate Advisor John Nordbo finds this outrageous.
“Every ton of carbon dioxide that was released into the atmosphere as a result of this fraud is equal to a ton that is released into the atmosphere now. This does not mean that the impact on climate in 2012 or 2015 was less severe than it is today. The only thing that has changed is that it has become more difficult for us to achieve the climatic targets that we need to achieve because of the “maneuvers” carried out by companies, ”he said.
Suppose that some of the 447 companies that bought carbon offset from HaloPolymer are small thermal power plants. Suppose they purchased loans through intermediaries and really did not know about the origin of the compensation. But big companies like Ørsted and the German steel giants, which have bought millions of loans, should have known better, Nordbo said. He recalled that the Danish government abandoned similar Chinese projects back in 2009 due to concerns about their quality. Also, the Danish Energy Agency abandoned all Russian projects due to "significant uncertainty" regarding loans.
“The key question is, have we learned anything about this case? And will the lessons learned be taken into account in the ongoing negotiations on rules for future carbon markets that are part of the UN Paris Agreement? " - As a result, the author of this investigation, Lambert Schneider, asks.
The Russians may now also have questions. For example, about how a businessman, convicted of fraudulent schemes of an international, multimillion-dollar scale, turned out to be among the participants of the largest domestic venture capital fund.
According to Forbes, Dmitry Mazepin's companies Uralchem and Uralkali in January became part of the private-state Fund of Advanced Industrial and Infrastructure Technologies Funds, which will finance Russian projects in the field of high technologies, artificial intelligence, medicine, genetics, green energy and Agriculture. In light of the investigation by Danish journalists, such an alliance looks at least unexpected.