On 31st January 2019, the Austrian Meinl Bank (now “Anglo Austrian AAB Bank“) made a suspicious money laundering report to the authorities against the Russian Vladislav Smirnov (aka Vladislav Khokholkov). At that time Smirnov was already listed as a suspect in the broker-scam case around Gal Barak and his E&G Bulgaria. At the beginning of January 2019, Smirnov and Barak were together in Vienna to meet with business partners. Apparently, the problems with Meinl Bank were a major motive for the visitor in Vienna.
Calling at Meinl Bank
Smirnov and his companies had already been customers of Meinl Bank (now “Anglo Austrian“) since 2014. The respective money-laundering report is related to the Russian payment expert Vladislav Smirnov (aka Vladislav Khokholkov) and his companies Keyring Holdings Ltd (Seychelles) and Oldypak Capital LP (Scotland). Smirnov has been granted the power of attorney for both companies. The nominee shareholder of his Keyring Holdings Ltd was the Ukrainian Volodymyr Cherevatyi. Closely connected with Keyring Holdings is the Cyprus-based Mesouri Investments Limited.
In July 2018 Keyring Holdings and Oldypak Capital signed a loan agreement. Keyring Holdings granted Oldypak Capital a loan of €2.5 million to purchase Gram tokens in the course of Telegram’s pre-ICO private token placement with the explicit aim of reselling the Gram tokens at a profit. The loan agreement was signed for both parties by Vladislav Smirnov. This agreement actually triggered Meinl Bank‘s suspicious activity report (SAR).
Well, this suspicious loan agreement is one thing but the real bombshell is the list of beneficial owners and partners of those Telegram investors.
Beneficial owner of broker scam
The Telegram investors Smirnov and his Oldypak Capital are also suspicious in other criminal files. They are listed as beneficial owners of the Tradologic of the Israeli Gal Barak. The criminal files show that Vladislav “Vlad” Smirnov and Gery Shalon are suspected to be co-conspirators and/or masterminds of the vast binary options and broker scams around Barak’s E&G Bulgaria. Another partner of Smirnov, Shalon and Barak in Tradologic was the German Uwe Lenhoff who was arrested in January 2019 on charges of running a criminal organization and money-laundering operation.
Barak was arrested in February 2019 on charges of having defrauded tens of thousands of European retail investors with his binary options and broker scams OptionStars, OptionStarsGlobal, XtraderFX or SafeMarkets of hundreds of millions. His co-conspirators are said to be Vladislav Smirnov and Gery Shalon. Both are also suspects in this crime.
In any case, the files show beyond doubt that Smirnov’s Binex Group, as a payment processor, processed millions of stolen money for their Broker scams. In addition, it is suspected that Online Prospect Limited, registered in Hong Kong, is attributable to Gery Shalon and that millions also flowed indirectly into Telegram Gram’s via this company.
The notorious JP Morgan hacker investor of Telegram?
Born in Georgia, Gery “Gabi” Shalon made the biggest cyber-attack ever on US financial institutions to date in 2014. The attack involved hacking JP Morgan and other financial institutions and media. Shalon was charged and arrested in 2015. He is supposed to cooperate with the US prosecutors as part of a plea agreement.
Shalon was released on bail and is awaiting trial in New York. Despite his pending trial, Shalon has been running broker scams with Smirnov and Barak between at least 2016 and 2019 and has allegedly stolen hundreds of millions of retail investors. Shalon operates with a Russian mobile phone and through its partner Smirnov.
The SEC lawsuit against Telegram
The money of the defrauded retail investors has possibly disappeared (laundered) in the telegram ICO. The US SEC filed a lawsuit against Telegram in October 2019 because of the ICO. The supervisory authority suspects that Telegram’s Gram tokens were only intended to be placed with institutional investors in their capacity as underwriter. This suspicion is actually supported by the money-laundering report of Meinl Bank and the documents submitted to the Austrian authorities. Allegedly, the Austrian authorities have already got in contact with their US colleagues.