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Ukrainian imaginary collaboration with a ghost company

In July 2020, the Swiss company Avant Aerospace SA, which supplies turnkey solutions for aviation and space, announced that it was expanding its activities and entering the Ukrainian market. “We are delighted to have the opportunity to expand our presence in Eastern Europe. It is especially pleasant for us to improve relations with Ukraine, taking into consideration the rich aircraft design and aerospace background,” said Mircea Tudor, founder of Avant Aerospace SA. The company plans to work on projects together with the state concern “Ukroboronprom” in the areas related to space and aviation, as well as the implementation of solutions for the development of satellites for military and civil purposes. Considering the positive experience of working with other CIS countries, Mircea Tudor called the work with Ukraine a logical step. Nevertheless, apart from an oral statement, the company has not taken any real steps to officially confirm the announced intentions.

Avant Aerospace has been on the market for over 5 years. Nevertheless, almost nothing is known about it, except for official information. Avant Aerospace SA was founded in 2015 in Saint-Imier by Romanian businessman Mircea Tudor. He also owns two more companies that produce aeronautical x-rays. One of them — MBT — is located in Romania, the other — Tudor Tech — in Switzerland. The legal entity Avant Aerospace SA is also registered there. From 2015 to 2019, the company was called Ari Matrix and posted on its website advertisements for the sale of used charters and the provision of aircraft repair services. In November 2019, Russian cosmonaut Sergei Bedzyuk, a former employee of RSC Energia, as well as an ex-SVP and a shareholder of the Canadian satellite imagery reseller UrtheCast, became the president of Avant Aerospace.

Since 2016, almost nothing has happened to confirm that the company is doing real business. In the personal blog of Avant Aerospace, no additional information about the current partners and completed transactions could be found. The last entry in the news section coincides with the appointment date of the CEO of the Russian cosmonaut Sergei Bedzyuk, and coupons for the sale of aviation masks were updated in 2014. The company is not active in social networks. In particular, on the GlassDoor website, Avant Aerospace is listed, but there is not a single feedback from employees.

A little more is known about the founder of the company, Mircea Tudor. From 1990 to 1992, he was a member of the PDAR political party, which later merged with the party of Romanian President Ion Iliescu. But this is not Mircea’s only close relationship with the government. He is the godfather and creditor of Dimitrie Bogdan Liku, Minister of Justice and Deputy Head of the Prosecutor General of Romania. In 2008 and 2011, Mircea Tudor rendered a favor to Bogdan Lik and bought the godson’s debts from banks for a total of $ 330,000. Subsequently, Bogdan’s wife spent this money on buying real estate.

In 2016, the NAA (National Anti-Corruption Authority) launched an investigation against Mircea Tudor, suspecting him of corruption in the amount of $ 89.4 million. The case concerned 93 contracts concluded by MBT with the Customs Service. According to NAA, Tudor paid $ 2 million to lawyer Liviu Ardeyas as interest on these contracts, which the latter helped to obtain through influence trading. The money was transferred to Liviu’s accounts in two tranches in 2010 and 2011 as payment for the provision of services, which also made it possible to avoid paying taxes in the amount of $ 290,000. After the start of the investigation, Tudor moved to Switzerland, and also left the board of all his companies. In 2018, following the results of the NAA investigation, it was not possible to find evidence of the crimes committed. However, lawyer Liviu Ardeyasu was found guilty and sentenced to 5 and 6 years on two separate offenses: for non-payment of taxes on the amount Tudor paid for his services, and a fraudulent attempt to collect a fine from ING Bank.

The company has 3 employees on LinkedIn. The most famous of them is the president of Avant Aerospace, former Russian cosmonaut Sergei Bedzyuk. Previously, he worked at RSC “Energia” as an engineer and test instructor, as well as the developer of a patent for manual satellite launch (Fig. 1) in co-authorship with Dmitry Sindalovsky. The latter provides consultations to former large government officials of the Russian Federation: Gennady Burbulis (State Secretary of the Russian Federation), from 1994 to 1996 — Sergei Ivanov (Minister of the Petrochemical Industry of the Russian Federation), from 1998 to 2000 — Alexander Pochinok (Head of the Russian Tax Service) and Oleg Sysuev (Deputy Prime Minister RF).

Something to think about…

Mircea Tudor acts through politicians and, before entering the country, provides himself a safety bag of public officials: in Romania they are the godson and the President, in Russia this is Bezyuk, which means that soon someone close to the Ukrainian state structures will get a job in the company. Perhaps the stake was placed on some kind of agreement with Vladimir Usov, but taking into account the fact that he was suddenly removed, the process stopped. It is not yet clear what project the company was claiming.

Also published on Medium.

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