Kazakhstani Company Sanctioned By US

cover Photo from open sources

The Kazakhstani company, Defense Engineering, along with a Russian and a Slovak company has been included in the US Treasury's sanctions list. The reason is the company's director and founder. Slovak citizen Ashot Mkrtychev is accused of facilitating arms sales transactions. Orda.kz looked into the situation. 

How a Slovak Citizen Helped North Korea Sell Weapons to Russia

The US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control has included the Slovak citizen Ashot Mkrtychev in the sanctions list. He is suspected of facilitating transactions for the sale of weapons from the DPRK to the Russian Federation in exchange for a number of goods.

Sanctions have been imposed against Defense Engineering LLP (Kazakhstan), Verus (Russia) and Versor S.R.O. (Slovakia). They are directly connected to Ashot Mkrtychev. 
Mkrtychev has coordinated with North Korean procurement officials and used Versor to conduct negotiations with companies abroad, the US Treasury said.

Russian Sanctions?

The Slovak company Versor S.R.O. had already been included in a Russian sanctions list. In November last year, the Russian government approved a sanction list of 74 foreign companies from Bulgaria, Great Britain, Germany, Canada, Lithuania, Slovakia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Montenegro, Estonia, and the United States.

Transactions in the field of military-technical cooperation are prohibited with enterprises from this list. The resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers lists suppliers of ammunition, equipment, electronics and optics from Europe, the USA and Canada. Cooperation with these enterprises is possible only with a special permit, the Russian government said in a statement.

According to Versor S.R.O.'s official website, the company employs professionals with 20 years of experience engaged in the development, production, and sale of defense industry products.  

Funeral Home 

DEFENSE Engineering LLP was created in November 2018. The company had initially been engaged in organizing funerals and providing other funeral services. The director of the company at that time was Irina Matveeva, a person with similar personal data is a Master of Economics and business and a certified accountant practitioner with an academic degree of Master of Business Administration. Ashot Mkrtychev has been listed as the founder of the company since its foundation. 

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On October 20, 2020, DEFENSE Engineering LLP changed its activities to wholesale consumer goods in retail facilities with an area of more than 2,000 square meters.

The company cannot be called profitable. Since 2019, it has contributed 461 thousand tenge to the state treasury. The organization has not paid taxes since 2022.

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This is not the only organization of Mkrtychev's that operates in Kazakhstan. VERSOR KZ LLP was established in February 2016 to provide other personalized services. The founders were VERSOR s.r.o. and Arnur Bektasov.

At that time, the director's chair was occupied by Bakytzhan Kabdoldanov, a person with a similar surname, name, patronymic was listed, as of September 5, 2012, as an assistant to the chairman of the Accounting Committee for Control over the execution of Kazakhstan's republican budget. A man, who is presumably his brother, Nurzhan Kabdoldanov, is the Deputy chairman of the Board of JSC "Jasyl Damu" (an analogue of "Operator ROP" LLP).

On May 2, 2017, a new director and co-founder appeared at VERSOR KZ. As in the case of DEFENSE Engineering, Mkrtychev brought in his acquaintance, Irina Matveeva.

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The company remitted taxes only in 2016 and 2017, paying only 3.7 million tenge. Since then, VERSOR KZ has not paid a dime.

Who are you, Mr. Mkrtychev?

According to TVnoviny.sk,  Ashot Mkrtychev is a Slovak citizen of Azerbaijani origin. On March 31, in a conversation with the media's correspondent, Mkrtychev claimed that he planned to import flour, wheat, chocolate and canned food to North Korea, denying his involvement in facilitating the arms deal.

"For a long time, North Korea has been buying goods from China, but it is expensive there. The Russians supplied products to the West, but now they can't, so they have an excess. I don't sell weapons. I have neither a company nor a license for this," Mkrtychev said.

According to TVnoviny.sk, in 2002 in the Slovakia man was accused ordering a hit on his competitor. Allegedly, he was involved in the death of an arms dealer. Mkrtychev was under investigation for a while, but in 2010 he was released because the prosecutor's office did not find evidence of his guilt. 

Kazakhstan Has Nothing to Do with It

The Ministry of National Economy confirmed that Defense Engineering has indeed been included in the sanctions list, but its activities have been suspended since February 14, 2021. 

The Ministry of Industry and Infrastructure Development added that the LLP had not been issued licenses or permits for the movement of specific goods.

We associate the inclusion of the company in the sanctions list with the fact that its owner Ashot Mkrtychev, who is not a resident of Kazakhstan, is under US sanctions. The inclusion of the company in the sanctions list is of a technical nature. He left the country on March 7, 2020, after which he did not enter Kazakhstan.

Two Kazakhstani companies, ITS–Astana LLP and Tynys JSC, had previously been sanctioned by Ukraine. The reason was commercial ties with the Russian military-defense complex. JSC "Tynys" is part of the national company "Kazakhstan Engineering" and carries out a state order for the Ministry of Defense of Kazakhstan. Its products are also purchased by the Russian security structures.

And in May, employees of the Jambyl Department of State Property and Privatization put up for auction 14 DJI AgrasT30 drones. Each of them costs about six million tenge, whereas the total cost is 86.3 million tenge. These drones were being transported through Kazakhstan to Russia. The Customs Service found out that the supplier from Kyrgyzstan, LLC "Impulse-Invest", did not have a license to transport such goods.

Original Author: Maria Gorbokonenko

DISCLAIMER: This is a translated piece. The text has been modified, the content is the same. Please refer to the original piece in Russian for accuracy.