A report from OCCRP on 23 June reported on the results of a government initiative launched when the government enacted laws in 2017 meant to close many of Russia’s old landfills and to introduce modern incineration and recycling technologies. Regions were divided into “waste management zones,” and companies were invited to bid on tenders to handle waste in each zone. The winning companies received 10- to 15-year contracts, which since 2019 have been paid through a new “waste removal” line item on local citizens’ utility bills – payments which have grown significantly in places. It comments on angry protests held, and says that a survey has revealed that the 4 largest operators in the country are all associated with Putin or other senior officials. The article highlights the EkoLine group as among the top 3 beneficiaries of Russia’s waste reforms. Companies in the group have received waste management contracts in several districts in the Moscow region, worth more than $1.2 billion. It says that EkoLine’s owners are not disclosed in any public records, and the company has a complex ownership structure involving several offshore firms that stretch from Russia to Hong Kong, Gibraltar, and New Zealand. Following these links, it is said, reporters found that the majority owner of this entire holding is a UK citizen named Mark Omelnitski, whose name was prominent in the Panama Papers affair.
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