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Tue 17 September 2019
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Forensic News has obtained corporate documents shedding new light on Stephan Claus Roh, a Swiss-born international lawyer and the “money behind” Maltese professor Joseph Mifsud.


Documents received from Delaware, Ireland, the UK, Switzerland, Cyprus, Russia and elsewhere illuminate Roh’s business ventures, including a previously unreported LLC incorporated in Delaware in March 2016.

The documents also show that Roh’s much-discussed UK nuclear venture in the mid-late 2000s ran in conjunction with an Ireland-based, Russian-owned LLC with a very similar name.

Mifsud, Roh’s business partner and client, unintentionally initiated the FBI’s Russia investigation when he told Trump aide George Papadopoulos that Russia had dirt on Hillary Clinton. The dirt, according to Mifsud, was in the form of thousands of emails.

After Mifsud’s knowledge was generally confirmed when Russia began releasing stolen emails from Clinton and her allies, an Australian diplomat remembered a conversation he had with George Papadopoulos in which Papadopoulos told the diplomat that the Trump campaign had received indications that the Russian government was going to support the campaign by releasing damaging information on Clinton. The diplomat told the FBI, and the Russia investigation officially began.


Delaware

Stephan Roh has a series of business interests in which he acts as the principal. Roh offers legal services via his namesake law firm as well as a group of companies named ILS International Legal Services. He also has investment interests via his R&B Investment Group, as well as a number of Cyprus LLCs. One of Roh’s LLCs in Cyprus handled the money of Russian oligarch Gleb Fetisov. Forensic News also previously uncovered that Roh’s company was in business with a Russian government contractor in 2016.

It is within the ILS International Legal Services grouping of companies, however, that Roh or someone connected to him incorporated a Delaware LLC of the same name on March 21, 2016. Forensic News exclusively obtained corporate documents showing the incorporation.

The Delaware Secretary of State received comments from the incorporator of the LLC (Harvard Business Services whose business is incorporating thousands of companies per year) saying that the company has “apostille for Switzerland.” Apostille is a term used for a certificate that authenticates the legitimacy of companies offering legal services.

Corporate registries from Switzerland show that Roh controlled the ILS International Legal Services with Apostille for Switzerland, confirming Roh’s connection to the Delaware LLC.

Roh was briefly detained by Robert Mueller’s investigators in 2018 as they tried to sift through the mountain of evidence they had on Papadopoulos and Mifsud’s encounters. Roh’s business ventures, unless directly related to Russian interference in 2016, were likely not probed by Mueller.

The company in Delaware adds to the intrigue surrounding Roh, who has in recent weeks resurfaced by claiming without any evidence that Joseph Mifsud was a Western Intelligence asset. The unfounded claim spread like wildfire on right-wing media. It’s unclear if the company ever did business in the United States though records show that it is still active today. Roh didn’t respond to any requests for comment.


Joseph Mifsud, Alexey Klishin and Servernvale Nuclear

Three weeks after Donald Trump’s surprise victory in 2016, Joseph Mifsud, Stephan Roh, and a former Russian government official, Alexey Klishin, sat at a conference at the Link University campus in Rome. The men discussed, among other things, Trump, Brexit and Russian relations.

Mifsud of course had months prior inadvertently initiated the FBI’s Russia investigation when he told Trump aide George Papadopoulos that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of emails. The public had no knowledge of this fact at the time.

Klishin, a lawyer who served as a Russian senator from 2005-2009, has been pictured with Mifsud and Roh at events multiple times in 2016 and 2017. For example in January 2016 Mifsud invited Klishin to speak at the London Academy of Diplomacy (LAD), of which Mifsud was Director. George Papadopoulos would go on to work for Mifsud 6 short weeks later. Near the end of 2016, Papadopoulos’s future wife, Simona Mangiante, also worked for Mifsud.

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Klishin’s law firm has previously done work for the Kremlin, according to the Washington Post. A biography on his law firm’s website states that, “the [Russian Federation] Ministry of Justice and Klishin & Partners Attorneys at Law…concluded government contracts for legal services in matters related to criminal, civil and international laws.”

Roh’s aforementioned nuclear project in the mid-2000s garnered major interest in 2018 when Mueller detained the lawyer. The BBC’s John Sweeney and Innes Brown first reported on Roh’s involvement in the Severnvale Nuclear project. Roh purchased the company from nuclear scientist Dr. John Harbottle in 2005. The lawyer at the time had no apparent experience in the nuclear industry.

In 2005 Dr Roh bought Severnvale Nuclear Services Ltd from its one man-band owner, British nuclear scientist Dr John Harbottle. He then invited Dr Harbottle on an all-expenses paid trip to a conference in Moscow. From the BBC:

But the nuclear scientist was alert to the danger that visitors to Moscow can be targeted or even honey-trapped in compromising situations. Dr Harbottle said: “We smelt a rat. It didn’t sound as if it would ring true and I decided that I wasn’t going to go to this meeting.”

Shortly afterwards, he was fired.

Under Dr Harbottle the company’s turnover had been £42,000 a year. Within three years under Dr Roh, Severnvale Nuclear, with just two employees, was turning over more than $43m (£24m) a year.

The cause for the sudden dramatic increase in cash for Roh has remained a complete mystery.

Now, Forensic News can reveal that the nuclear project coincided with a Russian-linked company in which Klishin was involved. It is the first direct evidence that a Russian government official may have funded Mifsud’s friend, lawyer, and “money man”.


A dizzying multi-national web of shell companies in the UK, Ireland, Cyprus, and Russia show a possible connection between Roh’s nuclear project and Klishin, the Russian government official.

Less than a year after Roh purchased Severnvale Nuclear Services in the UK in late 2005, an extremely similarly named company, Severnvale Nuclear Trading was incorporated in Ireland.

Though the official shareholders of the company were (and are) nominees, namely a couple of local lawyers in Ireland, masking the true ownership. When contacted by Forensic News, Dr. Habottle said he had never heard of the Ireland LLC, confirming he was not behind the company.

The exclusive documents obtained by Forensic News, however, show that this company is the owner of a Cyprus LLC in which Klishin is a Director and believed to be the owner.

In 2008, well after tens of millions were quickly made by Roh’s similarly named LLC in the UK, Severnvale Nuclear Trading in Ireland changed its name to a much more ambiguous title: Vinkins Holdings.


Vinkins Holdings

In 2013, a corporate filing for Vinkins Holdings illuminated the possible true owners of the LLC. The filing stated that a Cyprus LLC (Darken Trading) and a Russia LLC (NeftInvest KV) were both subsidiaries. Both of these LLCs have direct connections to Alexey Klishin.

The shares Darken Trading in Cyprus are again masked by nominees and the ownership of NeftInvest KV was unclear. With the ownership situation for both companies uncertain, the principals of each company were investigated by Forensic News. In Cyprus, Klishin himself is the Director of the company and in Russia, the CEO of the company is Klishin’s right-hand-man.

With Klishin being directly or indirectly involved with the two companies, it becomes clear that Klishin is involved with Vinkins Holdings, formerly named Severnvale Nuclear Trading.


Roh’s businesses probed

Given Klishin’s obvious connections to Stephan Roh and Joseph Mifsud in recent years and the almost identical name of the companies connected to Roh and Klishin that operated at the same time that Klishin was in the Russian Senate, questions are sure to follow for Roh.

Someone familiar with the situation in a European country told Forensic News that investigators were probing Roh’s businesses for possible criminal activity. The source said that the country was generally tracking the flows of Russian cash when one of Roh’s businesses was flagged. Roh has residences in Hong Kong, Ireland, the UK, Switzerland, Monaco, and elsewhere.

Roh and Klishin did not respond to requests for comment for this article. Mifsud, who by recent accounts is staying in Rome, couldn’t be reached.

In the weeks after Mifsud was questioned by the FBI and suspicion began to fall on Mifsud and Papadopoulos, the professor and his side-kick flew to Moscow and met with Evgeny Bazhanov, the President of the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia. Bazhanov was appointed to the extremely prestigious position by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Bazhanov himself was a former diplomatic official for Russia and senior staffer for the Communist Party under Mikhail Gorbachev.

This article was co-published with Forensic News.

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