After it turned out that Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov included the Fonbet betting company in the list of backbone enterprises that can count on state support, everyone started talking about these bookmakers.
After a series of investigations, the authors of the Telegram channels and Journalists found out whose company it was, how the business was organized, how it was connected with the Belousov family, and who protected it. But no real beneficiaries were found. The main questions remained unanswered: where did hundreds of millions of dollars go, and how did the money associated with the Russian mafia turn into respectable trust funds in the United States. We will answer these questions.
Founder of Fonbet
So, F.O.N. LLC, which is known to everyone under the Fonbet brand, was founded in 1994 by Anatole Machulsky, who died in London on February 17, 2017, at the age of 61. But the company began to bring billions only in the two thousandth - after the ban on legal casinos. And only in 2015, the company showed official white profits. In 2019, revenue has already reached ₽24 billion, and net profit - ₽9 billion.
Nicknamed the Luchok
Almost all journalistic investigations lead to the fact that Fonbet was closely associated with the Russian Mafia and Sergei Lalakin, nicknamed Luchok. In 1995, the newspaper Kommersant. described in detail the arrest of the leader of the Podolsk group Luchka Lalakin and gave examples of his heroic path, the article is still available to readers and law enforcement agencies of all countries.
Gambling is exactly where Luchok started. "Since the end of the 80s, Luchok, along with his friends, has taken up" business ": he earned money from thimbles and" dolls ", Kommersant reported in 1995. And Fontanka wrote that in the 1990s Sergey Lalakin participated in the work of the Marathon bookmaker, created by Anatoly Machulsky, the founder of the Chess Shop, the founder of Fonbet. Some journalists wrote about the business connections of Luchka Jr. and a woman whose last name, first name and patronymic match the name of the wife of Andrei Removich Belousov, one of the leading advocates of bookmakers.
Deputy Minister of Finance
In 2020, Novaya Gazeta in its investigation pointed to a possible connection between the Lalakin family and the family of the main curator of the gaming business in the government - Deputy Finance Minister Tatyana Nesterenko. "The Moscow apartment in which the daughter of Nesterenko Marina and her husband, the owner of the Bingo Boom bookmaker, Mikhail Danilov, used to belong to the full namesake of Maxim Sergeyevich Lalakin. In addition, Lalakin owned a house in a cottage village in the Istra district of the Moscow region - next to the house of Tatyana Nesterenko, "the newspaper wrote.
One of the shareholders of Fonbet
But these are all indirect connections. There are much more direct ones. One of the shareholders of Fonbet is Stanislav Magomedov, who owns 8% of the company. And he is a partner of Maxim Lalakin in his business. Magomedov owns 40% of the Usadba 150 company, which manages the property of the bath complex in the village of Borki on Rublevka. Co-owner of the bath complex - Lalakin Jr.
These baths are famous for being not very safe there. Rumor has it that management uses illegal methods of wiretapping and other surveillance there to blackmail unlucky couple lovers and negotiate in an informal setting. Maxim Lalakin Partner of Stanislav Magomedov One can get an idea of the difficult specifics of Magomedov's work by watching this plot, in which the interlocutors at the "negotiation table" take out weapons and start shooting.
They write that Magomedov could be an active participant in this conversation, which went into firing. After the shootout, the restaurant was of course closed. And now the Fonbet flagship office is located there.
Stanislav Magomedov share in LLC "F.O.N." departed after the death of Machulsky. In the same 2017, Fonbet was restructured: 35% of the company remained in Russia and was distributed among such organizers as Magomedov, and the remaining 65% hid behind a number of Cyprus offshore companies with a nominee director. Here is what The Bell writes about the owners: "The beneficiary of 65% of Fonbet is hiding behind the Cypriot companies, their main ultimate owner is the nominee Cypriot director. The name of the real owner of this package is unknown to the vast majority of top managers of betting companies and people familiar with this business who have been interviewed by The Bell. The only one who said that he knew the beneficiary of Fonbet refused to give that name".
The physical protection of the leadership of Fonbet was provided by Jafar Abuev (Jeff), who at that time was an adviser to the chairman of the government of Dagestan (now a deputy from United Russia in the parliament of Dagestan). Despite a high state post, Jafar Abuev is a typical "entrepreneur" of the 90s who, by force, gained actual control over the North Caucasus Railway.
However, after Fonbet was nevertheless excluded from the list of backbone enterprises, the company began mass reductions of employees, even despite multibillion-dollar profit. People thrown into the street began to call names. But we managed to learn more.
The heiress of the Russian business of Anatoly Machulsky (Gemma Lux LLC) was his daughter Vasilisa.
Ownership structure of Gema Lux LLC
The next point of the investigation is the chic private club "Freemont Hills" near Los Angeles, of which the whole Machulsky family became members, including Vasilisa and her second daughter, Sophia. The club's regular booklet contains congratulations on their membership.
Sophia Machulskaya is a citizen of Russia and Israel, and it is easy to trace ties with the business of her father from the time of chess youth. There is information in open sources that she owns the Bulgarian company of her father.
Owners of Pux Property
Around the same time, in 2017, that is, after Machulsky's death, Magomedov appeared in the co-owners of Fonbet, and Sofia Machulskaya began to take an active part in the business life of the United States and Great Britain.
Sophia Machulskaya owns part of the American hedge fund
Sophia Machulskaya is engaged in the construction of commercial real estate in California
Sophia Machulskaya is a participant in millions of dollars of litigation
Sophia Machulskaya is a co-owner of a company that controls elite real estate in the UK
She also has companies in Luxembourg and Panama. How law enforcement agencies in the USA and Europe look at its ties with Luchok's partners is not yet known to us. But let's move on to the other beneficiaries of Fonbet.
Machulsky himself would not have been a grandmaster if he had not looked after a friend, partner and guide in business for the heirs. Such a person was Alexei Vsevolodovich Khobot, who in 2003 was the CEO of Fonbet. Then he worked in software and bought it from world leaders for the site www.fonbet.com. And in 2007-2010, the media presented him as the chief analyst of Fonbet.
The son of Alexei Khobot owned another bookmaker with a small turnover of 100 million rubles. Market sources believe that it is Alexey Khobot who now represents the Machulsky family: he and the grandmaster's daughters own 65% of the shares that are hidden in Cyprus. They say that Khobot was the ideologist of the scheme of Fonbet's presence in two persons (legal and illegal) and actively lobbied for the preservation of such a structure despite the laws, preferring to "resolve issues" outside the legal field, attracting people associated with government agencies and the mafia. Only the official net profit of Khobot and Machulsky's daughters per year can reach 6 billion rubles. That is, the profit from the game that is played on official resources registered in Russia. His income obtained in this way, Hobot invests in the Cyprus village of Coral Bay.
They say that the Trunk renounced Russian citizenship in favor of Cyprus and Israel in 2016 in order to more securely hide behind the nominal beneficiary of the Greek Antonis Zertalis. But behind it is not only the white part of Fonbet, which brings official income and taxes in Russia. The fact is that Fonbet evades paying taxes on profits earned from about half of the players. Here is how the Fontanka newspaper described the situation in 2018: "market players explain that the betting market now actually exists in two Internet zones: the" ru "zone and the" com "zone. Everything that passes through the "ru" zone is officially registered and is reported. The "com" zone is actively blocked by Roskomnadzor. The representative of the betting world answered the questions that had arisen: "Neither Roskomnadzor nor the tax can prove anything, and it is unlikely that Fontanka will succeed. And the head of the First Self-Regulatory Organization of Bookmakers, Yuri Krasovsky, reported that about 490 billion rubles came from the illegal sector, that is, the "com" zone.
The illegal fonbet.com is owned by a Panamanian company. But the director in it is our good familiar face value Antonis Zertalis.
The relationship of Antonis Zertalis and Anita Sondore
The sites of the legal and illegal "Fonbet" are almost identical, and to prove that these sites are managed by the same people would not be difficult at all. Here you can read in detail about the nominal differences between illegal and legal sites: https://metaratings.ru/best-bookmakers/fonbet-sinij-i-krasnyj-chem-otlichaetsya/
A lot in common in the structure of corporate governance. The secretary and president of banned fonbet.com in Russia is jewelry designer Anita Sondore, who is also the director of LEONUM LIMITED, which owned sites banned in Russia.
Corporate Relations Anita Sondore
LEONUM LIMITED, in turn, owns mirrors and proxies of the prohibited fonbet.com
25% of LEONUM LIMITED belonged to Kaplan, through which the money of an illegal casino went. Such a direct legal connection (the same people in the leadership of the legal and illegal Fonbet) always created serious risks for the main "white" Fonbet, but these risks are offset by active GR-work. In 2013, it was an illegal business that caused a serious hit on the company.
PART 2. RESOLVERS
In 2014, a number of "gray" bookmakers had serious problems: on February 20, a criminal case was opened under part 2 of art. 171.2 "Illegal organization and conduct of gambling with the extraction of income on an especially large scale". The Investigative Committee did not name specific suspects - only "unidentified employees of F.O.N." LLC were mentioned. According to the investigation, only from June 27 to July 18, 2013 (that is, for three weeks) the income of F.O.N. LLC from the gray website "fonbet.com" amounted to 60.9 million rubles. But the nominee director did not surrender the real beneficiaries - Machulsky and Trunk. But the main complaints from the authorities were precisely to them. And it was they who were originally the goal of the investigation.
Here is what Vedomosti wrote at the time: "The criminal case against unidentified employees of the Fonbet was led by the Main Directorate of Economic Security and Anti-Corruption of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which was then led by General Denis Sugrobov. Later, he himself was sentenced to 12 years for organizing a criminal community and provoking bribes. Unidentified employees were accused of having Fonbet branches accepting Internet bets that were prohibited in Russia at that time. The general director of the company Igor Khokhlov received two years probation, and the case was closed".
We sent our requests to the participants in the case to the prosecutor's office and the police, as well as to Igor Khokhlov. The main question was: "did the investigating authorities know about the legal connection of the legal Fonbet and the forbidden Fonbet?" But still have not received answers.
Two years conditionally for a nominee director means only one thing in our system: the parties were able to agree. Sources say that it was at this moment that the share of the Machulsky family and the share of Khobot was hidden, and in addition to the reputable founders, the "resolvers" conglomerate came to the company.
By the time the investigating authorities began conducting business No. 818517, Konstantin Linev, who in 2014 was the executive director of Fonbet, was responsible for building up schemes for organizing shadow bookmaking. And he did not leave the company even after the initiation of a criminal case - now he oversees the legal service of the bookmaker.
The materials of the criminal case clearly show how the investigation tried to "not see" the general picture. Switchman Igor Khokhlov, for example, used the premises rented by F.O.N. Gemma Lux LLC (recall, this is Machulsky's company) installed three payment terminals in them, interacting with the fonbet.com website, which is associated with Machulsky and Hobot. But these connections did not interest investigators.
The mention of fonbet.com in the verdict to Khokhlov I. V.
Probably, the lawyer Lev Zuber, who was running the case, knew some magical tricks that narrowed the eyes of the investigators (which he could talk about today ...) and Igor Khokhlov today is unlikely to be silent. But back to the outcome of the case.
First, the company was rewritten to one of the largest franchisees "Fonbet" and a native of the Caucasus - Maxim Kiryukhin. He still remained the chairman of the board of directors and the public face of the company, but today his share, according to SPARK, has decreased to 8.67%.
Maxim Kiryukhin brought to Fonbet new partners - people associated with the famous inventor and manufacturer of "columns" (slot machines) Igor Khodorkovsky. The columns were installed in stores and at bus stops throughout Russia. Here is how the Kommersant newspaper described the "columns": "Former colleagues on the shop complain that the" excessive greed "of him and those like him, ruined the entire industry in Russia.
In 1990, Khodorkovsky rented automatic machines for rent, however, no longer for children, but with a monetary gain. The profit from their operation allowed him to organize a company KSI, which took up its own production of gambling equipment. Success came from the stolbik machine developed by the company. The cost of such an apparatus was about $ 500, and this money was "beaten off" in a maximum of two weeks, even in the most remote town.
The Russian Column took small bills and five-ruble coins, and when the number of installed "columns" exceeded one million, the public seriously started talking about rampant "pillar" gambling. " Columns robbed the poorest people in Russia. After all, you could play them in any village store. But how is Igor Khodorkovsky connected with the Fonbet? Another shareholder of F.O.N. LLC Irina Borodina is indicated. She does not have a serious business in Russia, but she is connected with the "resolver" of the international level - Alexander Burtakov. This is indicated on the site (available only from the USA).
It is reported that Irina Borodina is Burtakov's wife, we could not confirm this information with documents. But the relationship between Irina and Alexander can be traced very close. In Russia, Alexander Burtakov had the company "FLINT KSI", engaged in "activities for the organization and conduct of gambling and betting" with an authorized capital of 715 million rubles.
Intellectual developments of the company went to a company with the similar name "Flint-K", the founder of which is called the right hand of Burtakov - Vladislav Viktorovich Kiriyanov. Earlier, the owner of the company was Igor Mikhailovich Khodorkovsky, the same inventor of the "columns", and the general director of Flint-K was Kochura Sergey Viktorovich, responsible for finance, treasurer of Burtakov.
Burtakov's companies also appeared in the "Panama dossier". In the published papers, you can see that his main offshore is called "IRA 9319", and the director is a Norwegian citizen CHRISTIAN BASIL GRODELAND SCOTTON.
The fixed connection of Irina Borodina and Alexander Burtakov Ownership and Management Structure of IRA 9319 People who met Alexander Burtakov say that he is the proud owner of yachts and aircraft, which he shows to almost all his interlocutors on the iPad screen. There is something to brag about: his yacht Silencio became the winner of a major international regatta.
Alexander Burtakov owns many companies in Monaco, USA, Panama, Malta and Great Britain. He, like Trunk, renounced Russian citizenship and appears in all the documents we discovered as an Israeli citizen.
Burtakov Property in Great Britain
Sources indicate that it was Burtakov who was behind the Kaplan company - a co-owner of LEONUM LIMITED. It listed the sites of the illegal part of Fonbet. Through the royalty system, laundered money was transferred to accounts. As we were told, the servers and the software part belonged to the competence of Fonbet employee Evgeny Dyachenko. For the financial part of the withdrawal of money through QIWI devices, explained Sergey Baldin, a partner of the owner of the Chronopay (conducting electronic payments) who is in prison. For security in the structures was responsible co-owner of the private security company Prikhodko Alexander Leonidovich.
Many people call Burtakov a fraudster, whose main activity is to find people who have problems. Using the weaknesses found, Burtakov builds combinations of extorting money from "clients", boasting close ties with senior officials of the presidential administration and other high offices, talking about personal acquaintances with the wives of the powerful, and representatives of law enforcement agencies, including the head of Rosguard Zolotov.
However, with high probability it can be assumed that despite Burtakov's statements about his capabilities, in fact, the problems of entrepreneurs were solved without his participation, and his connections were not confirmed. If the conflict is not resolved, then, as in the case of Burtakov, you can always knock out money for your "services", and then simply "throw" the payer, attributing everything to insurmountable circumstances. They say that this is the way Burtakov entered the Fonbet project, and that Burtakov's GR budget for "solving problems" of the bookmaker exceeded $ 5 million a year.
At the end of 2017, the rights to the Fonbet trademarks were sold. During the transaction, the address for sending correspondence was indicated at Building 7 in Likhachevsky Lane in Moscow. Previously, KOMPANIYA CLASSIC INTERNATIONAL SOFTWARE was located at this address, owned by the regional public organization Moscow Freestyle Wrestling Federation. This organization was headed by A. Du Sukhanov, a business partner of a reputable athlete Andrei Alexandrovich Slushaev (Elephant). The companies of Igor Mikhailovich Khodorkovsky (KSI Corporation), Evgeny Yurievich Koltsov and Alexander Petrovich Burtakov are also located at this address. And at the beginning of 2020, the rights to the name "Fonbet" were transferred to the company TM & Ipco Ltd, registered in the UK. And the owners of TM & Ipco Ltd are again Maxim Kiryukhin, Stanislav Magomedov and Alexander Petrovich Burtakov.
The story of Fonbet in Russia did not end. The awkward move on the state support list led to a number of investigators taking up the company. Surely in the USA, Israel, Monaco and France, they will also be interested in how people associated with the mafia were in the center of financial flows coming from the gambling business. But one can almost certainly say that each country will receive a piece of this pie.
There have already been precedents in the United States when against companies tied to the most unscrupulous schemes in Russia (for example, the Katsyv case), only economic charges were brought. As a result, everything ended with a peaceful agreement between the parties. Most likely, it will be possible to agree with both Israel and Monaco. But in the UK, the rules are more stringent - there they can first seize the assets, and only then make them prove the lack of connections with crime.
But the main questions may arise here in Russia. "Why did the street carriages and bandits from the highway get an opportunity to influence the state agenda?" - This is the most difficult and important issue that should be raised not only by the media and telegram channels, but also by the whole society.
And the "resolvers" will no longer help here - the bookmakers' case has received too much publicity. It is possible to agree with officials, but not with all the people.
In less than a week after the Putin-Biden summit in Geneva, Washington has announced the preparation of new sanctions against Russia. It appears interesting how the Kremlin commented on the news