MINSK - The investigation shows how Grodno Azot circumvents sanctions by passing off its products as Uzbek (Uzbek-made?), as well as by using new intermediary companies.
We have established Ukrainian businessmen and former law enforcement officers are behind these schemes. According to Eurostat data, in December 2021, following the imposition of sanctions against Grodno Azot, urea imports from Belarus to the EU declined. A little earlier, there was an uptick in urea supplies to EU countries from Uzbekistan.
It is noteworthy that between May 2017 and April 2021, Uzbekistan had not exported urea to the European Union. Our findings indicate that a Belarusian company, Grikom, procures urea from Grodno Azot and subsequently sells it to the Uzbek firm Wakler Exim, which then transfers the product to the Serbian company Wakler. Serbia, too, has enforced EU sanctions against Grodno Azot. We have established that the ultimate beneficiary of the Uzbek and Serbian companies is Ukrainian businessman Oleksandr Korenitsyn. Furthermore, we have identified two more Belarusian companies that may serve as gaskets for the distribution of Grodno Azot fertilizers to Lithuania. Our Lithuanian partners are exploring the importation of fertilizers from companies owned by sanctioned Russian oligarchs. This entails the use of both shell companies unrelated to the fertilizer industry and well-established importers with years of experience.
Currently, the team is investigating the legitimacy of claims within the industry that they do not engage with suppliers linked to sanctioned individuals. The primary beneficiary of these sanctions evasion activities is the Belarusian state, which uses these funds to perpetuate repression against Belarusian citizens, support numerous law enforcement agencies, and bolster Russian aggression against Ukraine. Consequently, thousands of political prisoners, including former Grodno Azot employees, continue to languish in Belarusian prisons.
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