Slovak trail links Wagner head to unsanctioned company

Evidence of Prigozhin connection found in Slovak corporate registry.

Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin.Russian oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin. (Source: TASR/AP)

Investigative reporters have claimed Russian mercenary group head Yevgeny Prigozhin may be behind a company which has escaped western sanctions, after unearthing evidence of a link through the firm's whose sole European branch in Bratislava.

In a report, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) says evidence for the connection to international shipping company Flash Asia, which has not been sanctioned, was found in the Slovak corporate registry.

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Many companies linked to Prigozhin, known as "Putin's chef" because of his Kremlin-serving catering business, have been sanctioned, while he himself has been put on sanctions lists by the US, EU, and the United Kingdom.

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Flash Asia is linked to Prigozhin’s associate Igor Lavrenkov, who served as a founder, shareholder and director of a number of the former's companies. Lavrenkov also created Flash Asia in Beijing. Having found no evidence in the Chinese capital, OCCRP eventually unearthed a connection between Flash Asia and Lavrenkov in the Slovak corporate registry where he was listed as partner from 2006 to 2020.

As of now, the only partner and director of the branch is Russian citizen Alexander Ushchev, who is behind a company registered in UK that is allegedly involved in a range of corrupt activities in Europe.

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