Why were five private jets linked to Russia, Ukraine and China in Norway this week near Oleg Deripaska’s yacht?
While it’s not clear yet, information about the planes has similarities to recent reporting on a potential Deripaska business deal
Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska has been a central figure in the Trump-Russia story. He is the founder of Basic Element, president of En+ Group and, until recently, was majority owner of Rusal, the second largest aluminum company in the world. A close ally of Putin and once the richest man in Russia, Deripaska has been covered widely in Trump-Russia news and the Mueller report, for his business relationship with Trump’s former campaign manager and convicted felon, Paul Manafort. Years prior to the election, Deripaska had hired and paid tens of millions of dollars to Manafort. While Manafort worked for ‘free’ for Trump, he reportedly still owed up to $19 million to Deripaska.
Deripaska and several of his companies came under U.S. sanctions related to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Early this year, Senator Mitch McConnell helped lift sanctions on Deripaska’s companies and, a few months later, news emerged that Deripaska’s company Rusal had invested $200 million for a 40% stake in Braidy Industries located in McConnell’s state of Kentucky.
And a prior visit Deripaska made to Molde was a big Trump-Russia story — Molde is the location where Deripaska was filmed on his yacht in 2016 with Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Prikhodko discussing the U.S. elections. Prikhodko was mentioned in the Mueller report for inviting then-candidate Trump to attend the 2016 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Trump did not attend the event but several others, including Deripaska, Sergei Millian, George Nader and Joel Zamel did. Reporting last year by Alexei Navalny included a video taken by Nastya Rybka that showed Prikhodko and Deripaska on his yacht Elden in Molde, Norway, one month after the St. Petersburgh Forum, discussing the U.S. election.
On Tuesday I noticed that Norwegian news site rbnett.no reported that five private jets arrived in Molde, Norway this week within a few hours of one another. Two planes landed last Sunday from Tokyo and Moscow, and the other three arrived on Monday. John Offenberg, Air Harbor Manager in Molde, said in the article that it was unusual for five such planes to arrive together. Meanwhile, Deripaska’s yacht “Elden” and support ship “Severnaya Ten” were docked in Molde for an extended stay.
Aviation researcher Juha Keskinen, who tracks planes on twitter as @MacFinn44, researched information on the planes and yacht, including recent and prior travel routes.
In addition to Deripaska’s yacht “Elden” and support ship “Severnaya Ten” docked in Molde, one of the planes there this week was previously owned by Deripaska. In May 2018 Deripaska gave up three private jets because U.S. sanctions made it impossible to keep them. One of his planes had the tail number M-UGIC. Plane tail numbers are unique identification numbers on the tail of the plane, that indicate country of registration, similar to license plates on cars.
Aviation researcher Keskinen identified that Deripaska’s former plane M-UGIC is now Irish-registered EI-EGO, which was in Molde this week, and has been spotted in a few other locations associated with Deripaska.
Four of the five planes in Molde this week have ownership that is hidden behind common registration companies, operators or shell company ownership. The Ukrainian owner of one plane has been identified by Keskinen, although some of the information on this ownership was on a public website and has since been removed.
It is not clear who all the owners of the five planes are, or the purpose of their closely timed arrival and departure from Molde. It’s possible the rendezvous of five jets with links to Russia, Ukraine and China is not related to Deripaska. However, in September the Financial Times reported that Russian bank VTB, which owns almost 22% of Deripaska’s company En+, was in talks with two unidentified Chinese companies over a potential investment in En+, which had been under U.S. sanctions until January 2019.
As rbnett.no reported, the arrival of these five planes around the same time was unusual, and their links to Russia, Ukraine, and China are intriguing given recent reporting on Deripaska.
Below is information on the planes and a timeline of their movement, followed by additional information about Ukrainian Oleksandr Yaroslavsky, identified as the owner of one of the planes, who has not been covered widely in the news before.
The five planes in Molde this week:
N99KZ (Nice to Molde) — Registered with Bank of Utah Trustee, Operator is Shinning Spruce Limited, 610 Nathan Road, Room 1617 Hollywood Plaza, Mongkok Kowloon Hong Kong.
N999HZ (Tokyo to Molde) — Owner Delaware Trust Co. Trustee, Operator is Cloud Skipper II Ltd. Room 01, 47/F, Two Exchange Square 8 Connaught Place Hong Kong.
EI-EGO (Russia to Molde) — EI-EGO registered in Ireland on 14/02/2019, Owner VIPJet.Ltd, 58 Ballycasey Crescent Shannon Co. Clare Ireland. Per a source, many of VIPjet’s clients’ are Eastern European and VIPjet manages their planes. EL-EGO was previously M-UGIC which belonged to Oleg Deripaska. EI-EGO was in Tivat and Dubrovnik at the same time as Deripaska’s yacht Queen K.
M-CLAB (London to Molde) — Owner Shamrock Trading Ltd. 1st Floor Sixty Circular Road Douglas IM1 1AE Isle of Man. Keskinen has identified that the real owner is Ukrainian businessman Oleksandr Yaroslavsky.
M-ZJBT (Beijing to Tel Aviv to Molde) — Owner/registered with Thrive Star Global Limited, PO Box 957 Offshore Incorporations Centre Road Town Tortola British Virgin Isles, Operator Sino Jet (Beijing) Co., Ltd No 5 Cargo Road Capital International Airport Beijing 1000621 China, M-ZJBT was previously LX-MES which belonged to Russian oligarch and Putin ally Roman Abramovich.
In June 2018, one of the planes in Molde this week, N99KZ, was there at the same time as Deripaska:
- N99KZ Olbia →Molde
- M-SAWO Deripaska’s plane in Molde
- A high-speed craft spotted next to Elden and Severnaya Ten suggesting someone may have been visiting
- M-SAWO — Molde → Moscow
- N99KZ Molde →Paris
- M-ZJBT Beijing →Tel Aviv →Molde, first to arrive
- N999HZ Tokyo →Molde
- EI-EGO Moscow →Molde
- Elden and Severnaya Ten, Deripaska’s boats departed Molde after 10amGMT for Fraenfjorden on the other side of the Molde peninsula (the same location where Deripaska was filmed with Sergei Prikhodko in 2016)
- M-CLAB London →Molde
- N99KZ Nice →Molde
- M-ZJBT departed Molde →Stockholm →Tel Aviv
- EI-EGO departed Molde →Irkutsk (coincidentally, this is the location of Irkustkenergo, controlled by EuroSibEnergo, a subsidiary of Deripaska’s En+ Group)
- N99ZK departed Molde →Bordeaux →Bergerac
- N999HZ departed Molde →Bordeaux →Basel
- M-CLAB departed Molde →Bordeaux
- Elden and Severnaya Ten arrived in Molde
- N99KZ Bergerac →Bordeaux, →Nice
- N999HZ Basel →Bordeaux
Ukrainian Oleksandr Yaroslavsky
Oleksandr Yaroslavsky, the reported owner of one of the planes in Molde this week, has significant ties to several Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs in the Trump-Russia story.
Yaroslavsky and Deripaska have business ties going back to 2001 when they partnered on a deal coordinated with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma to build a plant near Kharkiv Ukraine.
In 2011 Yaroslavsky did a significant business deal with pro-Russia Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash. Yaroslavsky sold his Cherkasy-based OJSC Azot plant to Firtash’s DF Group for an unknown sum, but Yarsolavsky had reportedly been seeking $800 million for the plant.
Yaroslavsky is named in a lawsuit along with Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky. In 2016 Tatneft initiated legal proceedings in London against several Ukrainian businessmen including Gennadiy Bogolyubov, Ihor Kolomoisky, Oleksandr Yaroslavsky and Pavlo Ovcharenko, claiming they fraudulently appropriated money due Tatneft for oil supplied to the Kremenchuk oil refinery, and demanded $334 million in damages and interest.
Recently, Yaroslavsky partnered with Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov on a deal with Russian-Israeli oligarch Roman Abramovich. From 2017 to 2018 Yaroslavsky’s DHC Group and Rinat Akhemtov bought two steelmaking properties in Ukraine for $216 million — the Sukha Balka iron mine in Krivyi Rih and the Dniprovsky Metallurgical Plant — from Roman Abramovich’s company Evraz. The assets were originally sold to Abramovich by Ihor Kolomoisky and Gennadiy Bogolyubov.
Note: a big thank you to Juha Keskinen @MacFinn44, for the excellent research.