A Russian businessman with ties to a man indicted earlier this month as part of a scheme to open a pot dispensary and influence Nevada politics set up a company in the state earlier this year.
Andrey Muraviev, who runs a Moscow-based fund and invested in the Russian version of PayPal, registered a Nevada business called Inter Reserve Enterprises LLC in March. The other officer in the company is Dmitry Kasatov, who also was part of the Russian PayPal company called Qiwi and who on that same day, March 21, set up two other Nevada businesses, Allied Platforms and GGLV LLC.
So, as Butch so often said to Sundance: Who are these guys?
Muraviev is linked to California’s cannabis king, Garib Karapetyan, as The Sacramento Bee pointed out today. But he also has been in business with Andrey Kukushkin, who was indicted along with three other men and who set up another business in Nevada.
Kukushkin, you may recall, attended an Adam Laxalt for governor fundraiser and said, according to the indictment, that he met with several Nevada officials. This was part of an alleged scheme to get into the pot business in Nevada and buy influence -- they had hopes Laxalt would "green-light" their dispensary after they missed a deadline. But best laid plans: Laxalt lost.
Here’s where this gets really interesting.
Remember that there is an unnamed foreign national in the indictment, who is believed to have provided the source money for the illegal maximum ($10,000) campaign contributions to Laxalt and Wes Duncan, who was running for attorney general, from Igor Fruman, indicted along with Kukushkin.
Mother Jones’ David Corn, doing some dot-connecting 10 days ago and noting Muraviev’s interest in the pot business, speculated that he might be the one:
This Russian, who would be part of their legal marijuana venture, sent $1 million from overseas accounts to Fruman that was to be used for contributions to federal and state candidates in Nevada and other states, according to the indictment. It’s illegal for a foreigner to funnel donations to US candidates.
It’s a reasonable guess considering all of these relationships.
As Corn wryly concluded: Perhaps Kukushkin has worked with more than one wealthy Russian businessman eager to enter the American pot market.
There’s one more connection I found, too. Muraviev’s partner in Russia and Nevada, Kasatov, listed Lawrence Michelson as the resident agent for his company, GGLV. Who is Michelson? He, too, is interested in the pot business in California.
Too many coincidences? You think?
It’s impossible to tell what these businesses were set up to do or who else might be involved because they are LLCs, with very little available information.
But Inter Reserve Enterprises has a website and when I called the number on the site, I was transferred to man who had what sounded like a heavy Russian accent. I asked a series of questions to which he replied: “No comment. I’m sorry. I cannot help you.”
The site purports to be a business and tax planning enterprise.
As for GGLV LLC, on Kastov’s LinkedIn page, he lists himself as CEO since last year and describes the business as “Agtech & Innovations.”
I still wonder whether the feds are making any attempt to connect these Nevada dots involving the indicted men and their associates, all of them tangentially connected to the California pot business. In an unrelated note, The Bee reported this week that the state’s lax controls have resulted in the FBI stepping in to investigate pot owners and whether they bribed officials.