Sergey Adonyev supplied the Motherland not only with Cuban sugar, but also with Latin American cocaine

What connects billionaire Sergey Adoniev with cocaine smuggling and Putin.
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Yesterday it became known that the Bulgarian citizenship of billionaire Sergey Adonyev was revoked after the authorities learned about the criminal record of the Russian oligarch (according to Bulgarian law, citizenship with a criminal record cannot be obtained). Yota co-owner Sergei Adonyev, known to the general public also as a sponsor of Novaya Gazeta, the Sobchak election campaign and the Dow film, was arrested in the United States back in 1998 after he organized a fraudulent scheme with the supply of Cuban sugar to Kazakhstan. However, The Insider was able to confirm that a much more serious accusation was made against Adonyev, of being involved in cocaine traffic from Latin America to Europe through the port of St. Petersburg. However, the accusation was hushed up under pressure from the Kremlin, while Adonyev, who was deported to his homeland, went ahead of schedule and, with the support of Putin, began to build a telecommunications business, investing hundreds of millions of dollars of unknown origin.

Sugar Scam

Adonyev was born in Lvov in 1961, in the 80s he graduated from the Leningrad Polytechnic Institute (where he later worked as a teacher in the mathematics department), and in 1994, together with Oleg Boyko and Vladimir Kekhman, he began to import fruits. Their first major company was Olbee Jazz, but it collapsed due to a banking crisis, after which in 1996 the partners created the JFC (Joint Fruit Company) - the largest importer of bananas and citrus fruits from Latin America. It was in those years Adonyev turned the scam, for which he later had to pay.

In 1993, Adonyev, along with Vitaly Rashkovan, Bakhytyan Oralbekov and Oleg Popov, created two companies in the USA - Megabucks Trading and Metal Works Company, both were registered in Beverly Hills (Los Angeles, California). Through these companies, Adonyev and his partners “negotiated” with the government of Kazakhstan to supply 25,000 tons of Cuban sugar for $ 6.7 million to the republic. According to the FBI, Adonyev’s job was to give bribes to relevant Kazakh officials, while Rashkovan dealt with administrative matters and US bank accounts. At the same time, the FBI argues, no sugar existed and could not exist - firstly, because real Cuban sugar in such quantities would cost twice as much, and secondly, because American companies are not allowed to trade with Cuba because of the embargo.

According to the FBI documents, Adonyev was in Kazakhstan several times in 1993 and agreed on a fake deal with Vladimir Krupenev, at that time Nazarbayev’s personal adviser, through a bribe of € 700,000. This amount was transferred from the account of Adoniev’s company to one of Moscow’s casinos, which, according to the FBI, were owned by Adonyev’s business partner. Having withdrawn money from the casino accounts, Adonyev and Oralbekov paid Krupenev in cash, after which he organized the first transfer in the amount of $ 4 million to the Megabucks account in Los Angeles. With these funds, Adonyev and his partners immediately bought luxury apartments and cars. In the summer of 1993, Adonyev and Popov purchased Bentley, Mercedes, Jeep and Lamborghini - all at the expense of Kazakh taxpayers.

To scam could last longer and to continue to receive payments, Adonyev had to show at least some supplies. In September 1993, he bought 100 tons of sugar from a Kazakh plant for $ 300,000 (using a London trading company as a cover) and “delivered” him like Cuban sugar. After the last $ 500,000 was transferred, the FBI revealed fraud and frozen accounts. Adonyev, who had already returned to Petersburg by that time, was on Interpol's wanted list. He was detained in 1997 in Düsseldorf and deported to the United States. And this is where the fun began.


In 1998, Adonyev and Rashkovana were convicted of fraud, deception of the government of Kazakhstan, bribery of foreign officials and money laundering. Adonyev pleaded guilty and promised to return the stolen $ 4 million to the Kazakh authorities, in connection with which he was sentenced only to 30 months in prison and a three-year probationary period. But these 30 months he did not serve. Under enormous diplomatic pressure from the USA, Adoniev was handed over to finish his sentence in Russia. Why suddenly Moscow is so "fit" for a businessman? As it turned out, the FBI was interested not only in its financial fraud. In 2000, the Los Angeles Times published an article citing an investigation conducted by the large insurance company Prudential regarding the causes of death of Adonyev's permanent partner, Oleg Popov. According to the LA Times, the Prudential company discovered FBI documents showing the connection between Adonyev and the shipment of a ton of cocaine, which was subsequently arrested at the Russian-Finnish border in 1993.

The Insider contacted a former FBI investigator who conducted this investigation in the late 1990s, and today heads the law office. The Insider clarified whether he remembers that, in addition to the trial over Adonyev, there was also a cocaine-related case. He stated that he remembers this very well, but cannot disclose the details. He also noted that he had never faced such pressure as during the work on this case.

The supply of cocaine in question, at one time, made a noise in the Russian and foreign press. On February 21, 1993, the UMBR of St. Petersburg (Directorate of the Ministry of Security of the Russian Federation, former name of the FSB) and the Ministry of the Interior of the Russian Federation "stopped an attempt to import tons of cocaine into Russia" through the Vyborg customs. Four days later, Viktor Cherkesov, the head of the UMBR, said that the cargo came from Colombia on a ship, passed the Finnish customs under the guise of a Colombian stew, but it seemed strange to Russian customs officers that some banks were not labeled, they were checked and cocaine was found. “The seized cocaine is transferred into state ownership and will be used for medical purposes,” said Cherkesov, quoted by the newspaper Nevskoye Vremya in the article “We will be treated with cocaine” dated February 25, 1993. Cherkesov said that as of 1993 in St. Petersburg, for medicinal purposes, “only one kilogram of cocaine was used,” and supplies must be replenished. At the time, such explanations did not cause scandal.
Then, for some reason, Cherkesov did not name the company that was supposed to be involved in the packaging of cocaine in St. Petersburg (from where he had to go back to Europe). "The investigation is keeping its name a secret." As the name of the detained suspect, "a citizen of Israel, a former citizen of the USSR."

Later, the Belgian newspaper Le Soir published an investigation, according to which the “valiant operation of the St. Petersburg Chekists” was in fact an illegal disruption of the international operation Interpol “Acapulco”, which had been prepared for three years and began with wiretaps made by the Colombian police. The container that controlled the investigation “went from Bogota to Gothenburg, and then, from Gothenburg to Kotka, was eventually intercepted by the Russians, contrary to all logic, not where it was planned - near Vyborg. The cargo was waiting for the company Agricum in St. Petersburg, ”Le Soir reports. According to the author of the article Le Soir Alain Lalman (later he will write a book about this case), the organizer of this delivery was Oscar Donat, who was then arrested in Israel. In St. Petersburg, he owned a whole customs terminal of Eurodonat Terminal CJSC, and it was assumed that St. Petersburg authorities were behind him, besides Donat. The Committee for External Relations of the City Hall of St. Petersburg in 1991 was registered by “Eurodonat Terminal”. In addition to Donat, a number of defendants were arrested in Russia, Israel and Colombia. For some reason, later, no “loud legal process in Russia”, as Cherkessov promised in February 1993, was reported.

This famous ton of cocaine played a rather important role in the alignment of forces in the criminal world of St. Petersburg. The former leader of the Tambovskaya criminal group, Vladimir Barsukov (Kumarin), who was already behind bars, recalled that Nikolay Aulov, the future police colonel-general and deputy head of the Federal Drug Control Service, who turned out to be the “authority” of Gennady Petrov, spoke with him:

I know well Aulov, from his captain's times, from the time when the first ton of cocaine was transported through Vyborg in canned meat. There was a meeting with Aulov in 1992–1993, in which (as I understood it) he hinted to me that I take drugs under control, arguing that the one who takes it under control will receive big money. Those who receive big money will become strong and kill us or sit us down, which eventually turned out to be, everything came true.

Much later, the connection of the banana company JFC with cocaine supplies received a new confirmation. In 2015, the law enforcement agencies of Ecuador tried to detain a representative of JFC, a Russian citizen of Cuban origin, Dmitry Martinez, for laundering cocaine money (he managed to escape). According to local law enforcement officials, a total of $ 300 million were laundered by a criminal group led by Dmitry Martinez, which came into the country in the form of loans taken from Russian banks. Earlier, in 2014, in the port of Guayaquil, the police confiscated more than a ton of cocaine destined for shipment to Kuwait in transit through Spain. The drugs were on board in a banana container owned by Exbafrut, owned by Martinez. According to Ecuadorian Interior Minister Diego Fuentes, in the ten years of existence, the exposed criminal group has managed to launder more than $ 1 billion.
So, Sergey Adonyev, whom the FBI suspected of being involved in this case, is not only hastily extradited to Russia, but is also released without having served his entire term. Moreover, soon his career rapidly went uphill, including with the active support of Vladimir Putin personally.


In 2006, Adonyev created the fund Telconet Capital, which became the main shareholder of the telecommunications operator Scartel (trademark Yota). In a strange way, Yota managed to get a GSM license without having its transmitters (she used MegaFon towers), after which Adoniev for 4 years (2007–2011) invested as much as $ 600 million into Scartel. Where did the former banana seller there were funds for such investments - it is unclear (unless, of course, he sold only bananas). But it is known that since 2006, Sergey Chemezov, head of Russian Technologies and Putin’s former colleague in the KGB Dresden’s residency, has become his patron. In 2008, Rostec became the owner of a 25% stake in Scartel.

The rise of Yota did not cause delight in other telecommunications companies, but even here interference from above helped. On March 3, the heads and major shareholders of all major Russian telecommunications companies gathered in the Yota office. In addition to Chemezov and Adoniev, they personally found Vladimir Putin there, in whose presence they signed an agreement extremely beneficial for Adonyev: an infrastructure company was created on the basis of Scartel, on whose network the parties to the agreement will be able to provide mobile Internet services using LTE technology.

In 2013, Adonyev and his partner Avdolyan sold their stake in Scartel to Usmanov - then the transaction was estimated at 1.3 billion. In 2017, Forbes estimated his fortune at $ 0.8 billion. In recent years, Adonyev appears more often in the news than as a businessman , and as a sponsor, and a sponsor of those projects in which not everyone would risk investing and which had no chance to pay off: he financed the Dow project (whose long-awaited premiere will be held today in Paris), he financed the election campaign of Ksenia Sobchak and still far is the main sponsor Novaya Gazeta (in the editorial office they note that he is a good investor - he does not interfere in the editorial policy).

To get comments from Sergey Adonyev The Insider failed.