Ukrainian banker Igor Fisun controls all the payments in “Diia” and is believed to be the real representative of the Russian PIN-UP casino in Ukraine, suggests journalist Vladislav Sidorenko, who published an investigation on his Facebook and Telegram page.
As the journalist points out, all payments in “Diia” go through the financial company LLC “Unified Space,” apparently associated with Igor Zotko I.V., who is also the owner of the Russian online casino PIN-UP. He was also the director of a very important structure, TOV “UKRKART,” which belongs to Igor Fisun, who is also a shareholder in “Oxi Bank.” Based on registry records, observing company registrations and director changes, it can be confidently assumed that Igor Fisun is indeed the key figure controlling all the payments in “Diia and representing the Russian casino PIN-UP,” writes Vladislav Sidorenko.
The journalist managed to get in touch with Igor Fisun and tried to get his comments on these matters, but the banker, who had left Ukraine, cited his busy schedule and, after two weeks, declined to engage in conversation and answer questions.
“So, besides Russians and controlling all the payments in ‘Diia,’ another company of Igor Fisun catches attention – TOV ‘UKRKART.’ It is at the centre of criminal proceedings related to the creation of a network for tax evasion by almost all online casinos in Ukraine, involving more than 10 different banks,” reminds Vladislav Sidorenko.
The question of revoking the license of the Russian PIN-UP casino was raised once again at a meeting of the Commission for the Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries (CRAIL) on September 18, but its head, Ivan Rudoy, dismissed the matter.
A few days later, the Cabinet of Ministers removed Elena Vodolazko, a member of CRAIL who had raised this issue, from her duties.
“According to my source, Ivan Rudoy is responsible, among other things, for sabotaging the revocation of the license of the Russian casino PIN-UP. In this matter, he is backed by the Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation, Alexander Bornyakov. The Deputy Minister Alexander Bornyakov is trying to appoint his Deputy Head of the Apparatus in CRAIL, Andrey Krutsya from the Ministry of Digital Transformation, in order to better control Rudoy and the schemes of diverting/covering the cash flow and Russians in CRAIL,” writes Sidorenko.
Investigation Reveals Murky Connections: Igor Zotko and Igor Fisun
Journalist Evgeny Plynskiy tried to get a comment from the head of CRAIL, Ivan Rudoy, but he declined. Earlier, he wrote in his Telegram channel that the money from PIN-UP goes to Cyprus to Russian businessman Dmitry Punin, who leads a luxurious lifestyle with Ukrainian money.
Corruption scandals related to PIN-UP, CRAIL, “Diia,” and numerous figures have attracted the attention of the United States, the United Kingdom, and European countries.
As reported by journalists from the U.S. Business News and their British colleagues, Western nations are expecting a response from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, his office, and anti-corruption agencies regarding these corruption allegations.
The Diia Payment Processing Scandal: taxpayers’ money mixed with gambling
In an investigative expose, Ukrainian journalists from Ekonomicheskaya Pravda have shed light on a controversial financial company known as “Yedinoye Prostranstvo.” This obscure private entity was granted the exclusive privilege to handle payments on the Diia platform, effectively monopolizing the process. The company, in its privileged position, processed tens of millions of payments for Diia annually, accumulating substantial fees over the years. This investigation sought answers to several pressing questions, chief among them being why no open competition was held, and why established state banks and experienced financial institutions were not chosen for this crucial role.
Mikhail Fedorov’s Enigmatic Stance
Mikhail Fedorov, the head of the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine and the architect behind Diia, found himself unable to justify the lack of an open procurement procedure and the preference for an unknown private financial company over reputable state banks. Notably, it was uncovered that the owner of “Yedinoye Prostranstvo” is linked to the Russian gambling industry, raising further concerns.
The Curious Origins of “Yedinoye Prostranstvo”
Investigative journalists uncovered that “Yedinoye Prostranstvo” Financial Company LLC was established in August 2019 with a modest authorized capital of UAH 6 million by Tatiana Varchuk. The company exhibited characteristics typical of a dubious enterprise, sharing its registration address with numerous fictitious companies. Although it employed only ten individuals, none of them worked in an office setting, and its 2019 income was less than $10,000.
The Emergence of Igor Zotko
Igor Zotko, a central figure in this saga, entered the picture in July 2020 when he became the majority shareholder of “Yedinoye Prostranstvo,” holding 95% of the authorized capital amounting to UAH 5.7 million. Furthermore, in early 2022, he injected an additional UAH 2 million into the company, increasing its authorized capital to UAH 8 million. His declared income during this period raised suspicions regarding the legitimacy of this transaction.
The Financial Windfall and Gambling Ties of Igor Zotko and IGOR Fisun
Starting in 2021, coinciding with the establishment of ties with the Diia platform in late 2020, “Yedinoye Prostranstvo” witnessed a remarkable surge in revenue. In 2021, the company’s income reached UAH 9.8 million, escalating to UAH 26.4 million in 2022 according to tax records, and UAH 20.6 million in the first half of 2023.
Igor Zotko, not only linked to “Yedinoye Prostranstvo” but also the founder of “Ukr Game Technology” LLC, secured a license to operate online casinos and gambling activities. He plays a pivotal role at Pin-Up.ua, a casino with Russian affiliations. Notably, Pin-Up’s assets in Russia are owned by the son-in-law of the Russian Prime Minister, Mr. Mishustin.
A Web of Connections: Igor Zotko and Igor Fisun
Journalists uncovered a web of connections, suggesting that “Yedinoye Prostranstvo” may be under the nominal management of Igor Zotko, who may have ongoing ties with the Ukrainian banker Igor Fisun. Igor Fisun, a shareholder in “Oxi-Bank” and the owner of “UKRKART,” was previously associated with Igor Zotko in various capacities.
Allegations of a Vast Tax Evasion Network
Ukrainian law enforcement agencies launched criminal case no. 72022000400000003, implicating Igor Zotko and Igor Fisun in a significant online casino tax evasion network. This network involved a dozen Ukrainian banks, including Igor Fisun’s Oxi-Bank, Poltava-Bank, Sergei Mammadov’s GlobusBank, and several others. The network allegedly facilitated tax evasion for entities like 1xBet, Pin UP, Parimatch, Favbet, Volcano, Slotoking, Joker, VBet, FanSport, GGPoker, and Pokermatch, all clients of Igor Fisun.
Influence Peddling and Regulatory Oversight
“Yedinoye Prostranstvo” was found to have influential patrons within the Ukrainian government, notably with the head of the National Bank, Andrey Pyshny. It appears that Pyshny exercises significant control over the company while receiving substantial secret fees and commissions. Furthermore, he has been accused of promoting the interests of “Yedinoye Prostranstvo” while overlooking multiple violations and dubious connections with the Russian Federation.
Journalists have also raised questions about the Commission for Regulation of Gambling and Lotteries’ reluctance to revoke the license of “Ukr Game Technology” LLC, given its ties to Russian business interests.
Igor Fisun Connection: A Closer Look at Financial Schemes
Interkassa was initially created by Yuriy Chaika with a primary focus on legitimate online payment processing. However, after it was sold to Igor Fisun, the company took a different direction, becoming involved in processing payments for a wide range of entities, including those engaged in electronic commerce activities prohibited by law.
Igor Fisun and the 2014 Sale of Interkassa
In 2014, Igor Fisun’s decision to sell “Interkassa” raised eyebrows. This move was attributed to the onset of the conflict in Ukraine, despite the fact that the company’s primary source of income was the Russian Federation. Another significant factor in the sale was the use of Interkassa for the receipt and transfer of payments to the territories of the so-called Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics. In the eyes of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), this amounted to “financing terrorists in eastern Ukraine.” The legal name of the company that owned the Interkassa payment system was “Payment Technologies.”
Igor Fisun registered a series of companies that facilitated the operations of “Interkassa.” One of them, “Sychasni platizhni rishennya (SPR),” was involved in an illegal scheme to convert electronic and monetary funds into cash, subsequently legalizing them by channeling them out of Ukraine into Russia. Several other companies, including “National Payment and Collection Processing Center,” “Yedynyy hamanets,” “Payment Technologies,” “Digital Payment Systems,” “Pari-Pay,” “Finest,” “Intercassa,” “Payment Solutions,” “Intway Ukraine,” “S.I. GENERAL LTD,” “System Integration,” “Internet Service Ukraine,” and “Akadex,” were implicated in similar schemes, each facing criminal investigations related to unlawful conversion and laundering of funds.
It is worth noting that among the listed companies, there is one with a similar name, “Interkassa,” which is closely linked to key players involved in money laundering operations.
The Rise and Fall of Paymaster.ua
The payment system “Paymaster.ua” was a subsidiary of the Russian company “Webmoney” and operated in Ukraine until May 2018 when it became subject to sanctions. Initially, this company processed payments for both legal businesses like “Kyivstar,” “Rozetka,” “Allo,” “Sinevo Laboratory,” “Foxtrot,” “Moyo.ua,” “Odesa Bus Station,” and others, as well as for illegal gambling establishments and casinos. However, in 2016, they reached an agreement to accept payments for “Rozetka.ua,” transferring all illicit activities to a new website, global-payment-solution.com.
After the blockage of “Paymaster.ua” and the prohibition of their Ukrainian financial operations, the company owners set up the website paysoft.solutions to continue processing payments for “Rozetka.” While the payment system’s façade changed, funds continued to be funnelled out of Ukraine into Russia through a series of companies.
The extent to which the owners of “Rozetka.ua” are aware of and involved in these financial operations remains unclear.
The Tranzzo.com Payment System of Igor Fisun
Another electronic business venture of Igor Fisun is the payment system tranzzo.com. Its primary activity involves consolidated financial transaction services and payment processing for “Interkassa.” Tranzzo is not only a technical partner of “Interkassa” but is also affiliated with Latvian company SIA WPS, owned by Igor Fisun, London-based company Tranzzo Ltd, the offshore entity PAYWAYS SYSTEM INC, which also services “Interkassa,” and LLC Finexpress, registered for financial operations.
In 2016, this company obtained a license from the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) to transfer funds in the national currency without the need for bank accounts to be opened. Igor Fisun is also the owner of this venture.