Russian-linked company investing in Arizona has deeper ties to Russian mobsters than previously understoodAugust 27, 2019 4:54 am
A Soviet-born businessman who is planning on investing millions in an aluminum plant in rural Arizona manages an active Panamanian company with two Russian-mafia figures who were arrested in 2014 for running a hundred million dollar gambling ring out of Trump Tower.
Entrepreneur Jacob Gitman’s deal to invest in Arizona was first reported by the Arizona Republic and independent journalist Patrick Simpson, who has reported on Gitman extensively. (Forensic News does not endorse the exact language chosen by Simpson to characterize Gitman and related entities)
Forensic News can reveal that Gitman, along with the two individuals associated with the Russian-mafia, Anatoly Golubchik and Vadim Trincher, have a Panama company that remains active today. Documents acquired by Forensic News show that Gitman serves as President and Director, Golubchik as Treasurer and also Director, and Trincher as Secretary and Director for the company Sky Way International Holding Inc.
A similarly named company under Gitman’s control in Florida, Skyway International, is “an aircraft operating company with certificates in Kyrgyzstan, UAE and USA” according to a document filed with the FEC in 2014.
Companies in Panama are required to pay an annual fee to the Panamanian government to keep the business active. The documents reviewed by Forensic News indicate that the company remains active as of August 2019.
Though the company officially remains active, an October 2017 notice from the Panamanian government declared that the company had not paid its fees for a period of three years and didn’t resolve the problem in the following two years thus immediate dissolution would be commenced. It is unclear why the company was not dissolved. The notice seems to indicate that the company may not have done official business in recent years though Gitman, Golubchik and Trincher are still a part of the technically active company.
Golubchik and Trincher, Jacob Gitman’s business partners, were charged in 2014 in a Russian-mafia money laundering sports betting case run out of Trump Tower led by then US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara. “The sentences meted out to Anatoly Golubchik and Vadim Trincher are just and appropriate penalties for the roles the defendants played in this far-reaching, Russian-American organized crime ring,” Bharara said at the time.
SDNY said, in part:
“Between 2006 and April 2012, the enterprise laundered approximately $100 million in proceeds from their gambling operation in Russia and Ukraine through shell companies and bank accounts in Cyprus; and of this $100 million, approximately $50 million was subsequently sent from Cyprus into the United States. Once the money had been transferred to the United States, it was either laundered through additional shell companies or invested in legitimate investments, such as hedge funds and real estate.”
One court document said that Trincher once threatened a customer by saying that an employee of his would “come and find him, would come and find the money and that he should be careful, lest he be tortured and lest he wind up underground.”
Both Trincher and Golubchik were sentenced to 5 years in federal prison and $20 million in asset forfeiture for racketeering. A search of the Bureau of Prisons shows that both men were released in July 2017, approximately two years before their sentence was complete.
In April 2019, Gitman’s Technocon International doing business as Alliance Metals sought approval from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to build the aluminum factory. The application shows that the location for the proposed facility is in Wenden, Arizona, population 484.
The plant, according to the Arizona Republic, would produce approximately 10 million pounds of scrap metal a month. The current rate for scrap metal is 79 cents, meaning that the business would turnover tens of millions of dollars worth of aluminum each year.
Documents filed with the Florida Secretary of State indicate that Jacob Gitman and his son Larry operate as the respective President and Vice President for Technocon International, the parent company of Alliance Metals.
The shareholders of Technocon International, which was incorporated in 1994, remain unknown. An attorney for Gitman’s Alliance Metals did not respond to a request for comment.
Gitman himself has been embroiled in major legal issues for the better part of two decades. According to the Arizona Republic report:
“In 2017, a Kansas jury found Jacob Gitman and two business partners had committed fraud. The trio was accused of misleading Blizzard Energy about technology, expertise and potential profits from an operation to convert waste tires into fuel by burning them. The project failed.”
Currently, Jacob Gitman and several business associates and related companies are embroiled in a legal battle involving a foreign limited partnership, “E.R. Troika,” and a Kazakh airline. The lawsuit, which involves 30 parties, claims that Gitman and other defendants, including his companies, siphoned millions of dollars for personal use through air transportation contracts, including nearly $8 million that Jacob Gitman’s airline group allegedly failed to pay E.R. Troika.
“They’re absolutely baseless allegations against us,” Jacob Gitman said.
A Kansas Court of Appeals affirmed in 2019 that Gitman committed fraud in the Blizzard Energy case. We conclude there was sufficient evidence to support a fraud claim against Gitman,” the court said. The case in question was a civil case, and the case is under appeal
The proposed investment in the tiny town of Wenden, Arizona falls in the middle of GOP Representative Paul Gosar’s congressional district. Gosar is a staunch supporter of President Trump, a Mueller critic, and has recently stood up for Russian interests in the US House of Representatives. In early 2019, Gosar was one of just 23 members of Congress who opposed a bill that demanded that the US stay in NATO.
The bill, which passed with overwhelming support, “supports NATO member efforts to spend at least two percent of their gross domestic product on defense and promotes robust funding for the European Deterrence Initiative to counter Russian aggression.”
Representative Gosar’s office did not respond to a request for comment when asked if they had any contact with Alliance Metals or Jacob or his son Larry.
Property records show that Technocon International purchased the site location from a farmer in late 2018 for $1,500,000 in cash. Subsequent documents show that someone by the name of Loren Barton acted as VP on behalf of Technocon International for the real estate documents.
Barton’s identity and background could not immediately be established.
This is not the first news of Russian-connected businessmen investing in states with Republican representation in Congress. Russian money flowed into Kentucky, represented by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, which received a $200M investment into a private aluminum factory from Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska’s Rusal.
McConnell was instrumental in the United States Senate in lifting sanctions on Deripaska and his companies.
August 28: A previous version of this story said that Gitman was convicted of fraud. Though a court found that he committed fraud, it was a civil case, not a criminal one.
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