Fast loans of North Macedonia also in the hands of oligarchs from "Putin's list"

Oleg Boyko owns a company for quick loans in over 30 countries. In April last year, he was put on the list of sanctions by Australia, and since November by Canada and Ukraine, due to "financial support of the Russian government that invaded Ukraine", according to the international Open Sanctions database.

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Boyko, Photo: Screenshot/Youtube
Boyko, Photo: Screenshot/Youtube
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

Russian businessman Oleg Viktorovich Boyko, who is on the sanctions list of three countries, for supporting the Russian government that invaded Ukraine, has a company for quick loans in North Macedonia.

Boyko has been sanctioned in Ukraine, Canada and Australia. The US Treasury Department placed Boyko on the so-called "Putin's List", which includes Russian oligarchs close to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Bojko owns companies for quick loans in over 30 countries around the world.

The fact that he is sanctioned by several countries and that some of his companies are involved in scandals does not prevent Bojko from conducting business in North Macedonia.

Who is the Russian Oleg Viktorovich Boyko?

Russian billionaire with Italian citizenship Oleg Viktorovich Boyko, who according to Forbes is worth at least 1,2 billion dollars in the Macedonian Central Registry, opened a company for quick loans called Digital Finance International.

Oleg Boyko owns a company for quick loans in over 30 countries. In April of last year, he was put on the list of sanctions by Australia, and since November by Canada and Ukraine, due to "financial support of the Russian government that invaded Ukraine", according to the international Open Sanctions database.

Also, his name is on the so-called "Putin list" of the US Treasury Department, where he ranks 17th in the group of 96 oligarchs who make up the narrow circle of Russian President Vladimir Putin, writes the American media CNN.

A US intelligence report presented to the Senate in 2017 called Boyko "a person with troubling ties to the Russian government and Russian security services and involvement in organized crime."

"The Moldovan press reported that Boyko was part of a Kremlin-backed operation to interfere in the elections there," the report, which is partially confidential, revealed.

When it comes to the Russian invasion of neighboring Ukraine, after the war broke out, his company Finstar announced on its website that it was "heartbroken by the conflict in Ukraine."

Boyko states that most of his family are citizens of Ukraine, such as his sister, uncles and cousins.

He writes that he advocates a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

Forbes ranks Boyko among the 100 richest Russian businessmen, and he is also known as an international investor with 30 years of experience in the banking industry and digital financial services.

According to an investigation by Romanian journalists, Bojko, together with a partner from Latvia, uses Malta as a "tax haven" for their activities in Europe and the US, while they make money from the high interest and fees they charge clients when they provide small loans to citizens in developing countries.

Bojko also had a business engagement in the American film capital of Hollywood. He appears as co-owner of Fashion TV and co-producer of famous Hollywood films Sin City II by Robert Rodriguez and Summer Crossing with Scarlett Johansson.

How many passports does Bojko have?

According to OpenSanctions, Bojko has a Greek and an Italian passport in addition to a Russian passport. According to the data of the Macedonian Central Registry, his residential address is listed in the capital of Russia, Moscow, but Italy is listed as his country of origin and citizenship.

Radio Free Europe (RSE) sources state that he does not have a Macedonian passport.

On the other hand, Bojko listed Dubai, United Arab Emirates, as his place of residence on his official profile on the professional platform LinkedIn.

Entered the Macedonian market with half a million euros

In North Macedonia, through Digital Finance International, he owns brands for fast loans known as Forca and Kredi, and recently his company announced the product Hipokredit, with which you can take out a loan of up to 65 thousand euros with real estate collateral with a repayment period of up to 15 years.

With a deposit of half a million euros, the company Digital Finance International was registered in the Macedonian Central Register in 2016.

Millions of euros in revenue and reported loss

In just five years since its formation, in the ranking of 35 financial companies dealing with quick loans in North Macedonia, in 2021 it climbed to seventh place with an income of 2,5 million euros.

However, the profit on the final account amounts to only 10 percent of income, that is, 226 thousand euros, while everything else, on the final account submitted to the Central Registry, is listed under expenses.

Last year, their profit fell, so this company generated an income of 1,2 million euros, but due to large expenses, which were reflected in the final account, it ended the year with a loss of over 300 thousand euros, which means that it only paid 50 thousand euros in state tax, which is three times less than the previous year.

Until the publication of this text, we have not received a response from the director of this company in Skopje, Elizabeta Siljanovska, about the reasons for the losses.

The company Digital Finance International is part of the Russian empire Finstar, headquartered in Moscow, which has its subsidiaries throughout Europe, the USA, Asia, Latin America.

"Digital Finance International focuses specifically on markets in developing countries, in order to meet the financial needs of clients from those parts of the world," reads the explanation on the Force website, which can barely be read from the ads that appear above the text with offers for new "free" credit.

What are quick loans?

Fast loan companies are companies that operate with low costs and charge high loan costs and margins.

This leaves room for doubt when a financial company makes a loss and has large revenues, says economic researcher Branimir Jovanović from the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies.

"My first suspicion is that it is about extracting money from the state in one of the tax havens, and that this could be done through transfer pricing, that is, by fictitiously recording products or services at prices that are higher than market prices. In this way, profit is extracted back. But this is an unconfirmed hypothesis, which the authorities should check and act on," he explains.

Jovanović opens a new series of doubts about companies dealing with fast loans, which, according to his estimates, are very risky in terms of money laundering.

Doubts are in the area of ​​institutional control of the work of these companies, because, as he says, no one has an accurate view of how many loans they have given and there is a possibility that they can bring a lot of money into the system through such loans with high interest rates.

"If these two things are combined - that these are entities that are at high risk of money laundering, and if we see that profits are taken out of the country, it indicates that there is a possibility that it is actually money launderers, dirty money from suspicious destination, which is further extracted, washed through Macedonia and further extracted through some other countries, it can be a tax haven, and it can also be some of the most normal countries from the EU," says Jovanović.

35 companies that issue quick and small loans have been opened in North Macedonia.

Forty percent of them were founded with foreign capital.

The unknown finding of the Macedonian investigation

His company, due to Bojko's biography, was the target of checks by the competent financial institutions, but as sources from there have told RSE, no serious financial flows that would attract attention have been noticed so far.

The Public Revenue Administration says that they have not yet checked the company Digital Finance International, but that they are analyzing companies for quick loans.

The RSE source states that Macedonian institutions monitor and immediately implement sanctions against foreigners and their companies in the country only if they are on the lists of the European Anti-Fraud Office, the American institution for the control of the Ministry of Finance of Foreign Assets and the UN.

This means that if someone is on those lists, then their money and companies are immediately frozen in North Macedonia, because, as sources told RSE, foreigners who bring money into the country are checked with the help of international partners.

The Macedonian Ministry of Finance says that in the supervision of the work of financial companies, they rely on the conclusions of the internal audit.

"Regarding the Audit Report for 2021 and the reports received so far for 2022, the Ministry of Finance has not received a notification from the Audit House that the specific financial company has committed serious violations of the provisions of this or any other law," says the answer received from Ministry of Finance of North Macedonia.

Links leading to scandal in Albania

One of Bojko's companies in Albania, Credit 2 All-Digital Finance International SHPK, is involved in a scandal with the leaking of data on 600.000 users of quick loans who ended up on the "black market".

At the end of 2021, documents with the monthly salaries of thousands of citizens employed in the public and private sector, including well-known names, began to be distributed, primarily through social networks.

It is about the largest flow of information that has started many discussions in the public. After this scandal, four employees of the Russian oligarch Boyko's company were arrested, the Albanian police announced.

After the arrest of the company's director due to the scandal of Endri Ikonomi, Vlado Cvetkovski was appointed as the new director in October 2021, writes Euroljuz Albania.

By the way, Bojko is in some way connected with two other companies for fast loans in North Macedonia.

One through his former director of the Albanian company and member of the board of directors in the Macedonian company with Russian capital "Digital Finance International" and the other through the Latvian company whose owner has a financial company in Macedonia for quick loans.

A Czech millionaire enters the Macedonian market with quick loans

The name of Vlado Cvetkovski, who was the director of Bojko's Albanian company, also appears in the Macedonian Central Register, where he was appointed as a member of the supervisory board in the Macedonian company with Russian capital, Digital Finance International.

Information about Cvetkovski is hard to find, the only source is his LinkedIn profile. As stated in the profile, before becoming part of Bojko's group in 2018, he was the executive director of another company for quick loans with a representative office in Macedonia, Iute Kredit.

Cvetkovski is now the director of the "newly founded" fast loan company Profi Kredit, founded in December 2022.

According to the database of real owners, the Czech millionaire David Beran is the owner behind this company Profi Kredit.

Forbes statistics show that Beran "weighed" about 300 million euros last year, which placed him among the 100 richest Czechs and "holds" the 61st position.

This company is a part of the international financial group Proreal Group, which, apart from Macedonia, also operates in four other countries - the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Poland and Russia. Since 2017, this group has expanded its activity in Southeast Asia - the Philippines.

He lost his license in Kosovo and operates in North Macedonia

The owner of the Macedonian company with Russian capital Digital Finance International Bojko, in the research of the Scandinavian research network ReBaltika, is connected to another owner of the company for fast loans in North Macedonia.

We are talking about Aigars Kesenfelds, the owner of Fintek Doo, known by the Tigo brand.

According to the database of real owners, this Macedonian company was founded by Latvian millionaire Aigars Kesenfelds, who, according to the ReBaltika Center for Investigative Journalism, is a partner of Russian oligarch Boyko in the company "4Finance" for quick loans, which does not have a representative office in North Macedonia, and operates in another 11 countries.

According to ReBaltika's research, Bojko had activities in Kosovo for some time through the company Monego, which was owned by the Latvian Kesenfelds. However, in 2019, the Central Bank in Pristina revoked the license of this company due to suspicious "super profits".

Last year, Tigo Fintech loans in North Macedonia reached a revenue of 14,6 million euros, of which the profit amounted to 3,8 million euros, which is almost twice as much as in the previous year, 2021, when the revenues amounted to 8,2 million euros. and the profit was 1,7 million euros.

According to data from the Macedonian Central Registry, the Latvian Kesenfelds owns a third of the company in which he invested almost two million euros. The managers of this company with 34 ticket offices throughout Macedonia are Oskar Jalb from Latvia and Arlinda Muja from Albania.

Profits from fast loan companies in poor European countries made Aigars Kesenfelds an international millionaire. The turnover of its businesses is approaching 400 million euros per year, according to ReBaltika's research.

Kesenfelds, after the revocation of his license in Kosovo, as well as after accusations in the media in which he was named as a suspect for money laundering and a national threat, denied such allegations in front of Kosovo journalists.

He told them that he is the owner or co-owner of about 150 companies that work in at least 20 countries, and their turnover in 2019 was 384 million euros.

According to the published biography, Kasenfeld founded the company 2008Finance in 4, making him a millionaire.

And this company, which also provides quick loans, operates in Bulgaria, Greece, Spain, Romania, the Czech Republic, Latvia and Lithuania, Denmark and Sweden, and in the Philippines.

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