Whose Tobacco is there? | Latest news The Moscow Post
01 December 2023

Whose Tobacco is there?

Andrey Sobolev and Mikhail Smetannikov from offshore say hello from Pampina Votsi?

British American Tobacco plans to give a quarter of the Russian tobacco market to a company with a mixed past. It would seem that here the honorary consul of Belize in Cyprus, Christodoulos Vasiliades, and his notorious employee, lawyer Pampina Votsi, behind whom the figure of ex-US President Donald Trump looms?

British American Tobacco, which controlled almost a quarter of the tobacco market in Russia, plans to transfer its Russian and Belarusian assets by the end of 2023. In Russia, a new tycoon in the tobacco market may be BAT's longtime partner, the SNA group of companies, previously owned by an offshore company led by the notorious Cyprus lawyer Pampina Votsi.

Votsi is an employee of the company of the honorary consul of offshore Belize in Cyprus, Christodoulos Vasiliades, who was associated with many Russian oligarchs, senior officials of Russia and the United States, including ex-President Donald Trump. Details in the material of the correspondent of The Moscow Post.

What assets are looking for a buyer?

The SNA group known to readers of The Moscow Post may become the buyer of the BAT factory and logistics complex in Russia. In the latter, the owner was changed in 2022.

New owners of LLC SNS-Holding. Photo: https://www.rusprofile.ru

Instead of offshore under the leadership of the person involved in many scandalous affairs in the Russian Federation and in Ukraine - the Cyprian lawyer Pampina Votsi, two natural persons - Andrei Sobolev and Mikhail Smetannikov became owners. It is remarkable: a business partner of one of them is the person doing business with other offshore company under the leadership of Votsi. Votsi is an employee of law firm of the honorary consul of offshore Belize in Cyprus Hristodulos Vasiliades who managed to light the business interests in many large Russian and American companies and also, according to the Vedomosti newspaper, in 2013 it was possible to discuss withdrawal of money from problem Bank of Cyprus with him. But on it we will stop later. So far we will return to the transaction of BAT.

The international company on production and sale of cigarettes created in 1902 by British American Tobacco (BAT) in the financial statement stated that her indicators were affected by terms of transfer of the Russian and Belarusian business. Closing of transactions is expected in 2023. In Russia the company controlled nearly a quarter of the market of tobacco. In her asset - JSC British Amerikan Tobakko-SPb in which in April, 2022 the directors-foreigners - Gary John Noubla - replaced with Russian Sergej Lundberg. The state Bath-Russia - 2.5 thousand employees.

Among assets which can enter transaction perimeter, - a logistic complex and factory in St. Petersburg which makes cigarettes and sticks for heating and also trade and marketing JSC Mezhdunarodnye uslugi po marketingu tabaka. The limited company with limited liability "British Amerikan Tobakko Holdings (Russia) of B.V." from the offshore Netherlands was registered as the last revealed founder of a trade and marketing asset. According to Rusprofayl, for 2021 the profit of JSC British Amerikan Tobakko-SPb dropped by 35%, to 1.7 billion rubles, and at JSC Mezhdunarodnye uslugi po marketingu tabaka - for 32% (to 6.2 billion rubles).

In 2020 British American Tobacco was a person involved in large scandal in the USA. The The Times newspaper (I quoted it RBC) reported that the company became the person involved in the criminal investigation opened in the USA in connection with suspicion of violation of a sanctions regime by her. Details of business weren't reported therefore there are no data whether violation was connected with Russia. But, it seems, fresh sanctions against the Russian Federation forced the large investor to leave this segment of the market. The company declared these plans in March, 2022, and in February, 2023 it became known that the deal is planned to be closed until the end of the year.

Data of the buyer didn't appear in official reports of BAT, but in Financial Times interview the CEO Jack Bowles specified that there is a business transfer discussion to the consortium representing local management and the distributor of the company. According to open data, a distributor of British American Tobacco in Russia since 2001 is the SNS group of companies.

Who stood and stands behind the SNA group?

In anticipation of the transaction with BAT SNA replaced the owner from infamous offshore with two natural persons and I registered the new company for management of holding - LLC SNT. Under the aegis the new legal person will also pass assets of BAT?

According to the Kommersant newspaper, the SNS group of companies is founded in 1992. Key figures the edition calls the CEO Andrei Sobolev, the chairman of the board of directors Oleg Smirnov and the first deputy chairman of the board of directors Sergei Nesterenko. According to the Forbes magazine, Nesterenko held the 190th place of rating "200 richest businessmen of Russia — 2015". Smirnov in the same rating was on the 195th place. Both didn't appear in the ratings of billionaires of the next years.

Earlier Sergei Nesterenko and Oleg Smirnov appeared owners of LLC SNS Group, but the company was liquidated in May, 2009. In Rusprofayl base the participation in creation of 12 companies which are liquidated for today is registered for Nesterenko. Nesterenko holds a position of the chairman of country non-profit partnership "Raps" in Odintsovo for today. Perhaps, the speech about the elite cottage settlement of the same name in Moscow area.

LLC SNS-Holding appears as the main legal person of group for today. Since May, 2014 until the end of March, 2022 the offshore - GK SNS Limited was the only owner of the company. According to the website opencorporates.com, Pampina Votsi was the director of this offshore (she is Pampina Votsi).

The director of GK SNS Limited was Pampina Wotsi. Photo: opencorporates.com

The lady is very rich in assets, including in Russia. Over the years, she was a member of affiliates, shareholders, and the board of directors. (in different companies - in different capacities) such large legal entities as the PIK group of billionaire Sergei Gordeev, Central Suburban Passenger Company JSC, Dixy Group PJSC, was mentioned in the cases of Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash and reputable businessman Semyon Mogilevich, known in narrow circles, was mentioned in a case related to the attack of raiders on the Kurilovsky auto repair plant of the Moscow region, oil and gas company "Timan oil & gas." There were rumors that Pampina Votsi could be a connection between the beneficiary of PIK Gordeev and Donald Trump as part of the construction of the Trump Tower skyscraper. The businessman himself publicly denied these rumors.

The Moscow Post outlined most of Pampina Votsi's track record in this article. But in the biography of Votsi there are other important details, including those indirectly related to the new owners of SNS-Holding LLC.

The most important thing is that Pampina Votsi is a current employee of Christodoulos G. Vassiliades & Co. LLC. True, the name is misspelled, but the investigation of the Pandora Dossier confirms that Pambina and Pampina are one person. In the company of Christodoulos Vasiliades Pampina has been working since 2003

Pampina Votsi is an employee of Christodoulos G. Vassiliades & Co. Photo: https://www.vasslaw.com

Vasiliades was mentioned in the material of the American journalist Scott Stedman, which spoke about the connection of the Cypriot lawyer with Donald Trump, as well as Vasiliades' connections with Russian oligarchs and dignitaries. In the same investigation of the journalist, Votsi was also mentioned. In addition, another Stedman article cited Vasiliades' connection with former ambassador to the United States Jaime Aleman, the founder of the Panamanian law firm Alcogal, which advised Trump. An assessment of the reliability or unreliability of this data is not in our competence, but, as far as we know, the persons appearing in the material did not file claims against Steadman.

Vasiliades himself is not a simple person. In the materials of the Vedomosti newspaper from 2013, it is mentioned that the withdrawal of money from the problematic Bank of Cyprus can be discussed through the strange mediation of the honorary consul of Belize in Cyprus, Christodoulos Vasiliades.

In October 2022, the same publication says that the same Cypriot citizen became the owner of the St. Petersburg towing company, which will serve ships in the Baltic and Barents Seas and will be able to earn up to 700 million rubles a year. It was also reported that Vasiliades is the beneficiary of the Cypriot company Valna Holding Cyprus Limited, which owns New Technology Company LLC. The latter, in turn, owns shares in a dozen Russian companies.

But let's return to the employee of Vasiliades' company - Pampina Votsi and SNS-Holding LLC.

Instead of the offshore company led by Votsi, the new owners of SNS-Holding were the old business partners in the Participation company from the Vladimir region - Andrei Sobolev and Mikhail Smetannikov. Judging by the presence of litigation over the lease of forest plots, the Participation company was engaged not only in growing crops, but also in logging. And now business partners have decided to develop the tobacco market in Russia together. Probably, it was under the assets of BAT-Russia in June 2022 that Sobolev and Smetannikov created a new company - SNT LLC, which will conduct "head office activities." Then they created SNVM LLC for trading through machine guns.

But another asset of Sobolev, which was liquidated in 2019, is the Sosnovy Bor DNP. The co-founders of DNP were Andrei Anurov and a certain Alexander Viktorovich Voloshin. And here is a coincidence - a person with the same data as Voloshin is closely connected with offshore companies, which you would think? That's right, Pampina Votsi! Or rather, the Golden Pheasant company, which works in the field of dairy cattle breeding, raw milk production, is owned by Voloshin and the Cyprus offshore Alomber Services Limited. The director of the latter is Pampina Votsi.

Pampina Wotsi in Alomber Services Limited. Photo: https://efiling.drcor.mcit.gov.cy

In addition, a certain Alexander Viktorovich Voloshin was the liquidator of SNS Volgodonsk LLC, which belonged to the aforementioned company GK SNS Limited, the ex-owner of SNS-Holding LLC.

GC SNS Limited and SNS Volgodonsk Photo: https://www.rusprofile.ru

Also, a certain Alexander Voloshin was a co-owner of the now liquidated company G Ef DI International, in which the share belonged to the Cypriot company GK GFD Limited. The secretary of the latter is the same Votsi.

Votsi - Secretary of GK GFD Limited. Photo: https://efiling.drcor.mcit.gov.cy

However, which ubiquitous Pampina Votsi turned out to be.

If we talk about the second owner of SNS-Holding, then in addition to the already named assets, he has a company for the extraction of ores and sands of precious metals - Vostokgeoresurs LLC, created in 2020. In 2021-2022, this company received three licenses for geological exploration and assessment of mineral deposits in Transbaikalia. Looking for Smetannikov will be there exclusively noble metals.

Smetannikov's company received a license. Photo: https://rfgf.ru/ReestrLic/

It will not be superfluous to recall that the SNA group on its website also positions itself as a gold miner SN Gold Mining, the geography of which just includes Transbaikalia. But officially SN Gold Mining LLC is owned by Andrei Anurov, who, as we have already indicated above, earlier, together with Andrei Sobolev and Alexander Voloshin, was the co-founder of the Sosnovy Bor dacha non-profit partnership and the Lesnoye dacha non-profit partnership in the Vladimir region. Moreover, both are registered in the same Kirzhach district, where the company "Golden Pheasant" is registered, owned by Voloshin and offshore under the leadership of Pampina Votsi.

Voloshin, by the way, also has a company for the extraction of ores and sands of precious metals - Azimut LLC, created in 2020. In 2021, a license for geological exploration and subsoil exploration was issued for it in the same Transbaikalia (Barun-Khongorun Square).

Thus, we see that the infamous Cypriot Pampina Votsi was actively noted in the business biography of the company, which can receive Russian assets of British American Tobacco. But for some reason, SNS-Holding does not like to mention this. He does not like so much that in 2022 he tried to sue the journalists of The Moscow Post, demanding to remove the investigation into the strange activities of the tobacco company from the website of the publication. The cool lawyers of SNS-Holding lost the lawsuit outright and did not even appeal. Still, the stigma turned into a cannon?

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