Group DF of oligarch Dmytro Firtash informed on December 30, 2021 that PJSC «Ukrainian Chemical Products» (before 2014 — «Crimean Titanium») sold all its Crimean assets to company «Russkij Titan» (the Russian Federation).
The Center for Journalist Investigations (CJI) submitted the information request to the Antimonopoly Committee of Ukraine with the request to clarify whether the Committee issued the permit for concentration before the sale of assets of PJSC «Ukrainian Chemical Products» in occupied Crimea.
The answer of the Committee signed by Olha Muzychenko, the First Deputy Chair of the Committee, informs that participants of the agreement of sale of Crimean titanium factory did not ask the Committee for the permit for concentration.
«The Committee did not receive applications from PJSC «Ukrainian Chemical Products» about permit for concentration with the participation of Armiansk factory manufacturing titanium dioxide and «Russkij Titan» company during 2021. As an outcome, the Committee did not take respective decisions».
The Committee’s letter also points out that the application for the permit for concentration should be submitted jointly by direct participants, i.e. seller and buyer, in accordance with the Ukrainian legislation on protection of economic competition.Відповідь АМКУ
Agia Zagrebelska, the co-founder of non-profit «Antitrust League», believes that Firtash’s PJSC «Ukrainian Chemical Products» had to address the Committee for the permit before the sale of its assets in Crimea, as there are clear grounds to recognize the company as participant of concentration.
«If we calculate the revenue and value of assets of all companies related to Dmytro Firtash, then, this amount will undoubtedly exceed thresholds stipulated by the antimonopoly legislation. I know perfectly well, why they did not address. The first reason is that those assets are situated in temporarily occupied Crimea. The second is that they are related to Dmytro Firtash who is under sanctions. To my mind, it is unlikely they would receive any permit», as Mrs Zagrebelska said.
As she added, DF Group did not ask for Committee’s permit, as it did not want to disclose the real buyer of titanium factory. Mr. Firtash himself can stand behind the buyer.
«It is not known who acquired the assets. We see shell companies with symbolic statutory capital. Anybody can hide behind them, including Mr. Firtash. If they would address the Committee, they will have to disclose the ownership structure of «Russkij Titan». Then, the Committee would have the opportunity to investigate who was the real buyer hiding behind this company», as Mrs Zagrebelska indicated.
To her opinion, the Antimonopoly Committee can initiate an investigation of the concentration without the permission of the Committee. With the assistance of the Antitrust League, the CJI prepares an application to the Antimonopoly Committee about the launch of an investigation.
As the Center for Journalist Investigations found out, precise information about company «Russkij Titan», the buyer of Crimean titanium factory owned by oligarch Dmytro Firtash, is currently unknown. PJSC «Ukrainian Chemical Products» did not publish identification data of the buyer whereas not less than five companies with the same name are registered in the Russian Federation. To whom Firtash could sell former «Crimean Titanium» and why the Antimonopoly Committee, the State Security Service and the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine should investigate the case — see in TV program «Issues of National Security» with Valentyna Samar.
- As the CJI reported in its 2018 investigation «Dioxide of Firtash», the titanium factory of Dmytro Firtash in occupied Armiansk dumped waste into sumps in Kherson oblast but it did not pay environmental tax for years. As tax inspectors informed, the company submitted documents about production stop caused by occupation. However, the factory worked de facto and received the Ukrainian ilmenite through closed Crimean ports despite sanctions.
- The CJI in its investigation «Immortal Ilmenite Scheme of Mr. Firtash» paid attention to «weird» sanctions of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine. They cancelled special permits on the use of undeveloped titanium ore fields but did not cover working ore fields in Zhytomyr oblast. Extracted there ilmenite was processed at Irshansk Mining and Processing Plant and through intermediaries was supplied to the Crimean factory (so-called «ilmenite scheme»).
- In its investigation «Ilmenite Scheme» of Mr. Firtash: Czech Connection» the CJI reported about participation of Czech Belanto Trade company in the supply of ilmenite from Ukrainian ore fields to Firtash’s titanium factory in Crimea.
- Companies of Ukrainian oligarchs working in occupied Crimea use simultaneous registration in Ukrainian and Russian jurisdictions, in order to avoid US and EU Crimean sanctions. These sanctions ban investments into Crimea, supply of new technologies and equipment, entrances of ships into closed Crimean ports as well as export of goods produced in Crimea as the CJI reported in its investigation «Schemes to Avoid Crimean Sanctions».