It has become known the name of the second wealthy Russian, after Abramovich, whose business visa the UK intends to check. It is Siman Povarenkin, a goldsmith and investor in Shokoladnitsa. The businessman came under the scrutiny of the British authorities against the background of the investigation into the “Russian trail” in Brexit

The Guardian newspaper reported that businessman Simon Povarenkin was among 700 Russians whose British investment visas may be revised. However, the entrepreneur himself does not have a British business visa. Povarenkin has the right to reside in the United Kingdom and possible citizenship on the visa of his wife. She moved to the UK five years ago together with her two children, having invested at least £2 million in the British economy. Povarenkin himself regularly visits his family, who live in the prestigious London district of Belgravia in an apartment for £11.3 million, bought in 2015. Typically, Povarenkin spends about 70 days a year in Britain.

Gold and Brexit

In early 2017, Povarenkin once again flew into Heathrow Airport. The businessman was on his way to his wife and child’s birthday party. However, as soon as Povarenkin stepped off the plane, he was served with a summons to the High Court in London and a statement of claim. In the latter, Povarenkin’s former business partner, Ruslan Bestolov, claimed he owed him $7.5 million for his involvement in two ore projects in Yakutia. This was a precedent for British law. Despite the fact that Povarenkin was not a citizen of the United Kingdom, the court considered him a local resident. Just because the businessman had had the right to temporary residence in England since 2013 on his wife’s business visa.

However, Povarenkin did not get on the radar of the British authorities because of this business conflict. London’s interest in his person can be explained by Povarenkin’s possible ties with businessman Arron Banks. Banks was the main sponsor of the referendum on Britain’s secession from the European Union. According to The Times, he spent about 8 million pounds sterling on the Brexit campaign. The British media explain this generosity partly by the influence of Russian officials. According to The Guardian, Banks met three times in 2015-2016 with Russian Ambassador to Britain Alexander Yakovenko. At one of the meetings Yakovenko introduced the Briton to Povarenkin, who is a member of the business council under the Russian post. The subject of the meeting was the possibility that Banks would participate in the purchase of gold deposits in Siberia belonging to Povarenkin. The deal could potentially bring the Brexit supporter billions of dollars, according to documents cited by the newspaper.

But last week Banks testified before British parliamentarians about his ties to Russia. He stated that the deal with Povarenkin never took place. “Business is constant communication. But if you have lunch with someone and discuss something, it doesn’t mean you have business together,” the British entrepreneur said, adding that he has no business in Russia. “We’re on a full-blown Russian witch hunt,” seronised Banks, himself married to a Russian woman. – But it [communicating with Russians] wasn’t a problem before.” The British media claimed that Arron Banks continued to discuss a possible deal with Povarenkin even after the meeting in London – even flying to Moscow in February 2016. Banks later denied the trip.

Povarenkin himself claimed to The Bell that he did not conduct any negotiations with Banks, but only made a brief overview of the Russian gold market for the British at one of the meetings at the Russian embassy in London. Povarenkin’s Geopromining company did not respond to Forbes’ inquiry.

Gold and pancakes

The Guardian describes Povarenkin as a classic “minigarch,” who conducts business as usual in Russia under the cover of an influential “roof. It also claims that the businessman is close to the Kremlin. However, only the fact that the state-owned Sberbank owns 31.5% in Povarenkin’s gold mining company is used as evidence.

Not much is known about Povarenkin’s business. His main asset is the Geopromining Company. It was created in 2007 after a business split with its ex-partner and former Energy Minister Sergei Generalov, the head of the Industrial Investors Group (for example, it owned a stake in Fesco, which was purchased by Ziyavudin Magomedov’s Summa Group from Generalov in 2012). Povarenkin, who headed the board of directors of Prominvestors, bought mining and metallurgical assets in Russia and Armenia from Generalov, which became the basis of Geopromining’s business. In addition to gold, Geopromining mines silver, molybdenum, antimony, and copper. Povarenkin also owns GPM Asia, which produces zircon and natural titanium compounds in the province of Ben Thuan in southeast Vietnam. Financial figures were not disclosed.

Povarenkin has interests not only in the ore business. He invests in other projects through Acmero Capital, which is registered in Hong Kong. Acmero has about $500 million under management, according to its website. Acmero’s most famous deal was the 2015 purchase of 40% of the Shokoladnitsa chain. As a result of the deal, a holding company was formed, which combines “Shokoladnitsa”, “Coffee House”, “Wabi Sabi”, “Asia Cafe”, and the Israeli confectionery brand “Max Brenner”. At the same time, according to the results of the deal, the merged chains could be valued at 7 billion rubles, excluding debt, RBC wrote.

In that 2016 Acmero closed a deal to buy 38% in the transportation company Monopoly, promising to invest 1 billion rubles in the purchase of new trucks during 2016. Acmero also invested in the RBE group of companies, which specializes in catering, cleaning, semi-finished products, commercial real estate management and energy services. In particular, the company now supplies food for the Sapsan, Strizh and Lastochka trains. According to SPARK, Povarenkin was the owner of 50% in RBE from May 2016 to May 2017. Then he sold his stake to Nikolay Ruzanov, co-owner of several regional units of the Shokoladnitsa chain.

Povarenkin also owns a villa in Normandy, where he and his family spend the summer. The previous owner of the villa was Yves Saint Laurent. Poverenkin bought it for €9.6 million in 2009, a year after the death of the famous fashion designer.