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Private military company Convoy, founded in occupied Crimea, receives millions from Russia's VTB bank and billionaire Arkady Rotenberg

Monday, 14 August 2023, 16:31

Convoy, a private military company (PMC) established in occupied Crimea in the autumn of 2022, has received 300 million roubles [roughly US$3 million – ed.] from one of Russia's largest banks, VTB, which is 69% state-owned, and Arkady Rotenberg, an oligarch who is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Source: an investigation conducted by the Dossier centre

Details: The investigation says that Convoy PMC received 437.5 million roubles [roughly US$4.4 million] within just six weeks in autumn 2022. Of this amount, 120 million roubles [roughly US$1.2 million] came from a company owned by Putin's friend (Arkady Rotenberg's Ai-Petri Sanatorium in Crimea), another 200 million roubles [roughly US$2 million] from the state bank, and the rest from fuel companies that have nothing to do with Convoy.

None of these companies commented on the transfer of money.

Donations from state-owned and partly state-owned corporations are transferred to the account of the Convoy St Petersburg Cossack Community. This Cossack community then transfers the money to the account of the Convoy Military Security Company LLC. Over the course of six weeks in the autumn of 2022, 85 million roubles [roughly US$853,000] were transferred in this way.

As the investigators explain, the money is then cashed in for expenses "in a very simple way": funds from the Convoy account are transferred to the PMC’s head, Konstantin Pikalov, as "loans to the founder". According to documents examined by the journalists, he borrows approximately 60 million roubles [roughly US$602,000] a month.

Military equipment that can be purchased openly (body armour, uniforms, tents, medical equipment) is paid for by the Cossack organisation directly from their own account, Dossier writes.

Pikalov is linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin, founder of the Wagner PMC – the media have dubbed him Prigozhin's "right-hand man" and Wagner's overseer in Africa. According to Dossier, Convoy PMC's combat area is located in Kherson Oblast, and this summer the unit consisted of about 400 fighters.

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