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7 Apr 2023

Miles Johnson,
Chris Cook,
Anastasia Stognei, Financial Times

UK: London-based firm allegedly sent goods incl. semiconductors to Russia despite imposed sanctions, according to customs data

The UK business that shipped $1.2bn of electronics to Russia, 7 April 2023

A British business registered to a terraced house in a north London suburb appears to have arranged the sale of about $1.2bn of electronics into Russia since Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine at the start of 2022.

Mykines Corporation LLP, a company based in the London borough of Enfield, is listed in Russian records as having sent shipments including semiconductors, servers, laptops, computer components, telecoms network equipment and consumer electronics. The records list brands ranging from Huawei and H3C to Intel, AMD, Apple and Samsung.

According to these customs filings, at least $982mn of the goods listed as sent by Mykines are subject to restrictions on export by UK companies or individuals to Russia. Sale of these goods to Russia without permission from the UK authorities may constitute a breach of its sanctions, even though the goods shipped by Mykines entered Russia from other countries — largely China.

These findings raise questions over the effectiveness of the attempts to clamp down on Russia’s ability to obtain critical technologies used by the country’s military industrial complex...

While many of the Mykines exports are consumer goods, they also include a large volume of high-end microchips, telecoms equipment and servers, which may support Russian infrastructure...

The FT visited the terraced house where Mykines is registered in Southgate, an area of Enfield. It is one of two active companies registered to the address, which is owned by Savvas Themistocleous, the Cyprus-based owner of a fiduciary service. In 2013, he set up a company in which he was the sole director called “Russian Trading Company Ltd”. Themistocleous told the FT that he would pass on questions to the person listed as having “significant control” over Mykines — Vitalii Poliakov, a 53-year-old Ukrainian, who is described as resident in Ukraine. According to Molfar, a Ukrainian open-source intelligence group, only one person matches the given description of Poliakov — a road worker employed by a Ukrainian state mining concern. He did not respond to requests for comment.

Until last August, the controlling owner of Mykines was listed as a 34-year-old Ukrainian woman born in the same town as Poliakov. According to an online testimonial posted in 2018, she attended a two-week English language course at a small college in London and stayed with a host family. Her public Instagram page lists her activities as an IT professional and pole dancer. She did not respond to requests for comment.

Mykines had been active in Russia prior to the invasion, but the records imply its business with the country suddenly took off after the onset of the war.

The other firm listed at the Enfield address, Denirello LLP, had been active in selling similar goods to Russia before the war, but appears to have wound down and ceased exporting to Russia as tougher sanctions were introduced in 2022. Denirello described itself as “a dynamic diversified company distributing medical, industrial and IT equipment in Russia and CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States]”...