How a secret Lithuanian partner helped Chyzh make billions in a solvent scheme

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How a secret Lithuanian partner helped Chyzh make billions in a solvent scheme

  • Businessman Yury Chyzh and his Lithuanian partner Vitold Tomaševskij pumped billions of dollars out of Belarus. They made this money thanks to preferential access to cheap petroleum. Business contacts between Chyzh and Tomaševskij in Belarus continue to this day.
  • Belarusian government allocated money from the budget to fund projects of Chyzh and Tomaševskij. Businessmen have been given benefits and exclusive opportunities to increase their income.
  • With the money earned, Vitold Tomaševskij bought villas and apartments in Europe. He also has expensive cars and private jets at his disposal.
  • Yury Chyzh's business empire has not been completely destroyed, despite two criminal cases against him. A number of businessmen's assets are controlled by his relatives and close associates.
Belarusian businessman Yury Chyzh used to be considered Lukashenka’s main “wallet”. He gained access to cheap Russian oil, with the help of his partner. In just a year and a half, he earned more than $5 billion on Belarus from the manipulation with customs codes of petroleum products. By marking them as “solvents” the partners avoided paying export duties on petroleum products. BIC’s source confirmed that this scheme has been implemented through a Singapore-registered Savoil LLP company owned by Lithuanian businessman Vitold Tomaševskij.
Vitold Tomaševskij and Yury Chyzh. Photo: 15min.lt and «Наша ніва»

Oil Crane Access

In August 2011, Tomaševskij founded in Singapore Savoil LLP, a fuel and oils trading company.

In just five months, Chyzh partner received $800 million through the firm. And by the end of 2012, the company's revenue was about five billion dollars. 

Belarusian businessmen working with solvents and thinners are valued at approximately the same amount. 

With the participation of Lukashenka in 2011-2012 the “Solvents scheme” described above took place. The company of Yury Chyzh Triple also participated in this business.

Belarusian statistics began to record the export boom of “solvents and thinners” from September 2011, that is, a month after the Lithuanian partner of Yury Chyzh had registered Savoil LLP. 

A source in business circles confirmed to BIC that it is through this Singapore company that solvents and thinners were mainly sold.

Chyzh and Tomaševskij cooperated on a number of other projects in Belarus. According to an extract from the Belarusian Ministry of Justice, they still own JLLC NefteKhimTrading. Yury Chyzh as an individual, and Vitold Tomaševskij through the British company Globecast Limited

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However, the Lithuanian businessman continues to contact the Belarusian partner.

“Vitold Tomaševskij left all projects with Yury Chyzh in 2013 and is not his partner. Also, since 2014 Vitold Tomaševskij has not been in Belarus and does not have any current connections to Yury Chyzh,” a representative of Vitold Tomaševskij said.

Longtime partner

Yury Chyzh and Vitold Tomaševskij have known each other for about 20 years. With the help of the Cyber Partisans, we learned that since 2005 the Lithuanian had been flying with Chyzh to Istanbul, Berlin, Paris and other cities.

Tomaševskij started coming to Belarus by car even earlier, in 2003. 

Chyzh had just started building the first Prostore hypermarket. In 2008, the British company Redcast Limited, associated with Tomaševskij, became a co-owner of Prostor-Trade, which manages shopping centers with ProStore stores in them. 

In the same year, in 2008, through another British company, Globecast Limited, the Lithuanian received a stake in the NefteKhimTrading company, which still links him to Chyzh.

By the time he met Tomaševskij, Yury Chyzh had already gained Lukashenka's trust and gained access to the oil industry. In the early 2000s, Chyzh's company Triple replaced the former players on the Belarusian oil market – Yukola, Jurimex and Schwebel. At the end of the decade the company expanded to other fields: founded a pharmaceutical factory, got state contracts for construction of housing for the military, got other exclusive pieces of land for residential construction in Minsk, the capital, and built an ice arena in Chyzh’s native Biaroza. Yury Chyzh lived in the same high-end village Drazdy as Lukashenka.

The state awarded companies of Yury Chyzh with lucrative exclusive deals. In 2007, Triple bought out the Bereza Silicate Products Plant without any competitive bidding held for this asset. In 2012, another Chyzh’s enterprise, KvartsMelProm, received a sand and chalk deposit for development in the Malarytski district of the Brest region, again without an auction. 

Lukashenka's favor extended to joint projects of the Chyzh family with Tomaševskij. For example, the Danprod pig farm in the Valozhynski district. The authorities are taking the initiative in the republican expansion program and have issued a subsidised loan of almost 40 million euros.

The main stockholder of Danprod were Vitold Tomaševskij (till 2020 through his company Redcast limited) and the eldest son of Yury Chyzh Sergei.

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But the main joint project of Chyzh and Tomaševskij was the very scheme with “solvents”, on which they earned about $ 5 billion through Triple and Savoil. This sum is comparable to 7% of Belarusian GDP. The initial idea for ​​this scheme is attributed to the then subordinate of Chyzh, Aliaksei Aleksin. With the help of the Cyber Partisans, we learned that in 2011-2012 he was traveling in the company of his boss Chyzh and his Lithuanian partner Tomaševskij.

Tomaševskij himself in 2017, when registering HNSL Trading LTD in a secret jurisdiction in the British Virgin Islands, admitted that he had made his fortune on the sale of oil products through the Savoil company.

How Lithuanian Tomaševskij spent money earned in Belarus

The “solvent scheme” was stopped by the then Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev at the end of 2012. It was then that the plane with Tomaševskij flew to Minsk from the Spanish Alicante for the last time. 

In the mountains of this resort, Vitold Tomaševskij has a landplot of 3,000 square meters, on which a luxurious villa with a swimming pool is located. 

It is managed by Tomaševskij's Spanish company DOMUS UNIQ SL. 

The value of real estate can reach 15 million dollars: that is how much the assets of DOMUS UNIQ SL are valued.

Another residence of Chyzh's partner is a villa on a plot of 3,000 square meters at the foot of the Swiss Alps overlooking Lake Lugano. 

Similar houses in the vicinity are worth about 13 million euros.

The Lithuanian businessman also has real estate in his homeland, in Vilnius. A five-room apartment of almost 200 square meters is located in the heart of the old town. The average market value is almost half a million euros. The property is managed by the Lithuanian firm EC Turtas, owned by Tomaševskij. 

This company also has two expensive cars – Ferrari California and Rolls-Royce Wraith.

Tomaševskij also owns a private business jet Boeing-737 with a registration number EI-TVG. The plane was made in 2014, and in 2016 it was registered on Hansel Jet Ireland Limited, another asset of Tomaševskij. 

Now such a business jet costs about 90 million dollars.

The Swiss villa appeared in Tomaševskij's ownership in 2007 and The Spanish one – in 2014, just like the apartments in Vilnius. 

It turns out that he bought transport and some real estate in Europe with the money earned at the time of partnership with Chyzh.

Cooperation without a statute of limitations

Now Tomaševskij is engaged in the oil business in Russia. Through the Invest Trade company, he is connected with the development of the Kamenskoye deposit in the Komi Republic. 

Tomaševskij owns half of the firm through the Cypriot asset Senistano Holdings Limited. 

 

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The remaining 50% is owned by Nemerson Finance Limited, registered in the British Virgin Islands. Behind this company is the former vice-president of Lukoil Valery Subbotin, which became known from the leaked correspondence of Invest Trade employees. 

This information was also confirmed by the former top manager of Invest Trade.

According to Russian association Assoneft, in 2019 the company of Tomaševskij and Subbotin produced almost 12,000 tons of oil. In 2020, it increased production by another 5,000 tons. Data on production for the last year isn’t publicly available, but in 2021 the net profit of Invest Trade amounted to more than 10 million euros.

Tomaševskij's Belarusian partner Yury Chyzh, as far as we know, doesn’t have any comparable income, as well as real estate in Europe. In March 2016, he was charged with large-scale tax evasion and forced to pay $11-12 million in damages. In September 2016, Chyzh was released, but in March 2021 he was detained in a new case of tax evasion. According to mass media, the businessman was released on pardon in September this year.

Having lost Lukashenka's favor, Chyzh didn’t lose all of his business and not all of his influential partners, as this investigation shows. Some of his assets are registered to his children, while several others assets were bought out by people associated with Chyzh.

The unfinished tourist complex near Soboli village, which Chyzh began to build on Lukashenka's decree, was purchased at an auction by Prostoriteil LLC. This company is controlled by the Russian firm Standardtinvest, which was previously run by Maria Chernenkaya, the wife of the former Chyzh’s driver. Now Standartinvest is owned by Chyzh’s compatriot Anna Popova. 

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She also owns the ROS-VTS company, which rents filling stations from the NefteKhimTrading. As we mentioned previously, NefteKhimTrading is still controlled by Chyzh and Tomaševskij together. 

Popova also owns ProStore stores and the Golden Scallop restaurant.

Chyzh's eldest son Sergei runs the Danprod enterprise for the production of bacon pork in the Volozhinsky district. 

The youngest son, Vladimir, controls the TriplePharm plant, which produces antibiotics

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A few months ago, another of Vladimir’s enterprises bought Yury Chyz’s hunting estate at an auction. 

Chyzh's daughter Tatsiana also has a business. She is the main owner of the Rakovsky Brovar restaurant-brewery. 

She also owns a four-room apartment in the Troitsky complex, which was built by Yury Chyzh’s company. The appraised value of the apartments is almost a million dollars. 

Tatsiana's mother, Sviatlana Chyzh, owns a two-room apartment with an estimated value of $80,000. 

According to media reports, Yury Chyzh transferred his two-story cottage in Drozdy to his daughter-in-law shortly before he was arrested for the second time. Now the house is estimated at $720,000.

Yury Chyzh and Anna Popova declined to comment.

It turns out that the history of Yury Chyzh's business empire is not over yet, just like his criminal history, probably. Media reports that the founder of Triple lost Lukashenka's trust because he allegedly took about a billion dollars out of Belarus and hid it abroad in his best years. BIC will keep an eye on that money and what Yury Chyzh will do in freedom.

This article was developed with the support of Journalismfund.eu

This material was prepared in partnership with the Lithuanian investigative center Siena and with the support of OCCRP and Cyber Partisans.

Read more about the affairs of Yury Chyzh's Lithuanian partner in November on the portal of the Lithuanian investigative center Siena.