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Wagner's Head "earned" US$250 million since 2018 on resources of Africa and Asia

Tuesday, 21 February 2023, 09:37

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the sanctioned founder of the Russian Wagner Group private military company, has received more than US$250 million in revenue over the past four years from oil, gas, diamond, and gold production in countries such as Sudan, Syria, and others.

Source: investigation of Financial Times

Details: Prigozhin first came under US sanctions in December 2016, and in 2021, he was put on the FBI's wanted list.

But years of Western sanctions against Prigozhin have failed to stop the hundreds of millions that have flowed to him from the extraction of oil, gas, diamonds and gold from mercenaries in countries such as Sudan and Syria. The Wagner Group has been accused of human rights violations, including murder, torture and rape, in almost every country where it has operated.

In 2018, the US government imposed sanctions on Evro Polis, a Prigozhin-controlled company that received energy concessions from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in exchange for Wagner mercenaries liberating oil fields from ISIS during the country's civil war.

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Evro Polis’s accounts show that the sanctions had a limited effect on its operations, with the company going on to generate sales of US$134 million and net profits of US$90 million in 2020. 

This amounted to a 180% return on equity that was repatriated to Russia. In December 2021, two months before the invasion, the company reported a contract-related drop in revenues to just over US$400,000 but still boasted US$92 million in cash on its balance sheet.

Other Prigozhin mercenary operations are far smaller but have continued to trade in spite of being sanctioned. M Invest, a company operating in gold mining in Sudan, which was sanctioned by the US government in July 2020, still generated sales of US$2.6 million the following year. 

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Two companies that export records show have shipped large quantities of industrial equipment to Wagner-backed companies in Sudan and the Central African Republic generated more than US$6 million in revenues up to the end of 2021.

The accounts also show how some of the companies controlled by Prigozhin appear to have shifted their operations to other businesses before Western countries began to close them.

Mercury, a company operating in the Syrian oil sector that was sanctioned by the EU in 2021, sold US$67 million worth of products in the three years prior to the sanctions but declared zero revenue afterwards.

The analysis of the extractive companies supported by Wagner is based on their most recent available reporting as of December 2021. Revenues and profits declared by these companies in Russia were translated from roubles to dollars at the current exchange rate. At the same time, the analysis does not take into account Prigozhin's domestic Russian companies, which have received large government contracts and account for a significant portion of his wealth.

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