Source inquiries can be a valuable addition to any project—Vcheck’s analysts are experienced in conducting deep-dive investigative reports with source inquiry intelligence all over the world.
The movement of capital and high to ultra-high net worth individuals from the Russian Federation to the United Kingdom over the last 30 years is a tale well known. While many of the most high-profile individuals have become household names in the United Kingdom, whether by their ownership of football clubs or well-publicized dealings with members of the Royal Family, there are many others with substantial resources but lower profiles who play active professional roles in London’s perennially burgeoning financial sector.
Many of these individuals began their careers in the 1990s and early 2000s, a challenging time in the former USSR and Eastern Bloc countries, and not one that often draws scrutiny in the course of due diligence. However, neglecting to take a long lookback can lead to missing key intelligence informing a subject’s later career.
Vcheck Global’s team recently completed a report on a London-based Russian expat (“the Subject”) who founded and runs his own financial services firm. Preliminary open-source research indicated that the Subject was most well known for a business he had operated in Russia in the early 2000s, in partnership with a controversial oligarch, and which had failed after the 2008 financial crisis.
Early findings indicated that the Subject and his former oligarch backer had fallen out after this venture had collapsed. The combination of the Subject’s past involvement with the oligarch, as well as the failure of his previous business, generated sufficient concern for Vcheck’s client that they elected to pursue source inquiries into the Subject, seeking clarification on his past dealings and broad reputational coverage. Vcheck conducted source inquiries among former business associates, former government officials and financial crime experts focused on Russia, which revealed multiple additional issues previously unknown to the client.
Vcheck’s public records reporting and human intelligence sources were able to shine fresh light on the Subject and changed the client’s view of their professional history in a substantial way. Despite the Subject’s positive record since founding his current business in the mid-2010s, the deeper look at his past revealed several major issues the client could not overlook.
Firstly, the Subject was noted to have worked with various criminal organizations in the late 1990s and early 2000s, facilitating their export of funds from Russia via a series of "creative" loan and financial arrangements. This proved to have been the Subject’s big break in business in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and directly contributed to his ability to establish his own business.
Though the sources indicated that they did not believe that the Subject would face criminal liability in Russia, the potential reputational risks for the client were stark. Furthermore, source inquiries were able to establish that while the Subject’s failed business had been financed by the controversial oligarch, the Subject’s company was in fact considered to have failed organically in the 2008 financial crisis. No source knew or understood the business to have been engaged in any criminal activity, and none believed the Subject had stripped its assets in advance of it becoming insolvent.
However, sources consulted for the project revealed that the oligarch believed that the Subject had absconded with his funds and that he had been ripped off upon the business’ collapse. Sources indicated that the Subject had been pursued for years after by the oligarch, despite the fact that their joint venture had failed as part of the 2008 financial crisis and there was little left to abscond with by the end.