A fascinating, intriguing article from New York times on 1st November about the island, Sakkiluoto, in Finalnd that belongs to Pavel Melnikov, a 54-year-old Russian from St. Petersburg, who has dotted the property with security cameras, motion detectors and no-trespassing signs emblazoned with the picture of a fearsome-looking guard in a black balaclava. The island also has 9 piers, a helipad, a swimming pool draped in camouflage netting and enough housing — all of it equipped with satellite dishes — to accommodate a small army. It (and other places) was raided by Finnish commandos in September.  Finnish officials have attributed the raid to a crackdown on money laundering and cheating on tax and pension payments.  However, it is suspected that island and the other places were part of an undercover operation by Russia’s military intelligence service, the GU (the former GRU, of Salisbury poisoning infamy).  It is said that intelligence sources have long warned that property purchased in Finland by Russian nationals could be used for military purposes.  2 people were taken into custody after the raids — an Estonian of Russian descent and a Russian — and officers seized a stash of cash in multiple currencies, including €3 million.  Also seized were computer discs and flash drives containing more than 100 terabytes of data — more than 50 times the estimated size of the entire print collection of the Library of Congress.  The identity of the company is said to hide true ownership behind opaque shell companies registered in the BVI and other tax havens, and is now headed, at least on paper, by an Italian, who says he took the position as a favour to a businessman he knows from Russia(!).


Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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