Photo illustration by John Lyman

World News


Pavel Fuks is an Enigma Shrouded in Mystery

Pavel Fuks, a Russian oligarch with ties to Moscow, and conceivably the upper echelons of the Kremlin leadership, and the subject of Ukraine sanctions, continues to provide plenty of intrigue to anyone following the news cycle.

In striking contrast to these allegations, Fuks, through his spokesperson Kateryna Roshuk, has vigorously denied any connections with the Russian government. He asserts his allegiance to Ukraine, claiming to have renounced his Russian citizenship and emphasizing his support for Kyiv. Despite these declarations, Fuks has been unable to dispel the cloud of suspicion that hangs over him. The Ukrainian government has accused him of being deeply entwined with Russian financial interests and has charged him with fraud and imposed sanctions against him. His presence in London, living a life of apparent luxury in seeming defiance of these sanctions, has only fueled further controversy.

Notably, Ukrainian investigative journalist Mykhailo Tkach with Ukrainska Pravda confronted Fuks in London, highlighting his apparent violations of both sanctions and wartime conscription laws. Tkach questioned the lack of any official record of Fuks’ departure from Ukraine to which Fuks claimed he had simply crossed the border into Poland amidst a crowd of other Ukrainians.

Fuks’ backstory further complicates his public image. Fuks, a former developer with criminal connections, who made a fortune in Russia, left Russia for Ukraine around 2015, leaving behind a trail of disgruntled gangsters and oligarchs who had financed his luxury high-rise development projects in Moscow. In Ukraine, Fuks formed an alliance with the secretive and controversial billionaire Vitaliy Khomutynnik. Together, they are allegedly supporting the political opposition against Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

In a dramatic turn of events, in July, an FBI whistleblower submitted a 22-page disclosure to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The disclosure reveals that the FBI assessed Fuks as a “co-opted asset” of Russian intelligence services, implicating Fuks as a tool used by Russian intelligence to further its objectives. The disclosure, while not specifying a particular Russian intelligence agency, indicates that Fuks was associated with the FSB, the modern successor to the KGB. The allegations extend to accusations of Fuks laundering money for Russian spies and staging provocations in Ukraine to support Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim of “de-Nazification” as a pretext for the Russian invasion.

Despite all the allegations surrounding Fuks, he continues to live a life of luxury in London, which raises critical questions. Who within the British government is still willing to let a figure known among Russian gangs as ‘the mercenary,’ live in one of Europe’s financial hubs? His presence in London would seem to defy logic, given his reputation and the charges against him.

The SBU, Ukraine’s main intelligence and security agency, has publicly stated that Fuks has misappropriated a staggering amount of assets from Ukrainian companies since 2018. According to reports by Yahoo! News and the New Voice of Ukraine, Fuks exploited the financial vulnerabilities of these companies, engaging in illegal activities that disrupted their operations and allowed him to seize control. This has led to significant financial losses for Ukraine and allegations of tax evasion against Fuks and his associates.

Further complicating the picture, Ukrainian authorities have announced that Fuks and the top managers of his holding company have been charged with tax evasion. The authorities have seized corporate control and the accounts of several of companies implicated in Fuks’ illegal activities, along with substantial assets including real estate and vehicles. Some of these assets have already been transferred to the Asset Recovery and Management Agency or ARMA, which acts as a government receiver for finding, tracing, and managing assets derived from corruption and other crimes.

This development comes in the wake of charges against another Ukrainian oligarch, Dmytro Firtash, accused of misappropriating funds worth $484 million between 2016 and 2022. Firtash, currently a fugitive in the U.S., has also been subjected to sanctions by both the U.S. and Ukraine. He has denied the charges and intends to defend himself in court.

Adding to the intrigue, Fuks has acknowledged hiring former New York Mayor and Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, purportedly for lobbying purposes, a claim Giuliani denies. Investigations by U.S. and UK journalists have revealed that Fuks has been the subject of multiple law enforcement investigations in the U.S. In addition to Giuliani, Fuks is also known to have hired sanctioned election meddler Andrii Telizhenko and has formed partnerships with a variety of convicted and sanctioned politicians and businessmen.

Through reporting by Mother Jones magazine, Rudy Giuliani confirmed that his firm, Giuliani Security & Safety, was hired by Pavel Fuks in 2017 for consulting work in Kharkiv. Giuliani detailed that Fuks funded an initial security and crisis response evaluation in Kharkiv, alongside consulting work for a Holocaust memorial project.

According to reporting by Novoye Vremya, a Ukrainian magazine, Fuks had employed Giuliani’s expertise to establish an investment support office in the U.S. for Kharkiv. Giuliani, however, refuted any awareness of such claims and denied engaging in related activities within the U.S.

Giuliani’s presence in Kharkiv during November 2017, a city of 1.4 million people close to the Russian border, was linked to his professional commitment. Despite being seen with Fuks in New York that same year, Giuliani downplayed the extent of their association, stating that his direct involvement concluded as of December 2017, with no ongoing ties to Fuks through his firm.

While Giuliani withheld the financial details of the transaction with Fuks, he argues that the fees were consistent with his firm’s global standard rates and maintained that this work bore no conflict with his work as Donald Trump’s personal attorney. Nevertheless, the scenario underscores the intricate situations stemming from Giuliani’s international client base.

Giuliani’s Ukrainian activities have attracted attention, particularly as Fuks, among other Ukrainians, surfaced as notable figures in the backdrop of the Trump-Russia inquiry. Reports by The New York Times highlighted Fuks’ attendance at President Donald Trump’s inauguration, with subsequent meetings in Washington, where certain Ukrainians met with people in Donald Trump’s orbit to discuss peace proposals for the Russia-Ukraine conflict that seemingly paralleled Kremlin objectives.

And if the latest rumors are to be believed, Fuks might be making a play to visit the United States. These claims, purportedly from well-placed sources within both the UK and the United States, could add another layer of mystery surrounding Fuks.

Through his spokesperson, Pavel Fuks has dismissed all allegations of wrongdoing, maintaining that the criminal charges and sanctions against him are politically motivated. He continues to assert his support for Ukraine’s military efforts from his luxurious residence in London, a stance that contrasts sharply with the mounting evidence and accusations against him.