Pavel Fuks is a Ukrainian oligarch who built his fortune developing real estate in Moscow, and has a notorious past that includes extensive links to criminal associates, a failed real estate plan to develop a Trump hotel in Moscow, hiring Rudy Giuliani in 2017, accusations of being a Russian intelligence asset, an arrest warrant issued against him in Moscow and sanctions placed on him in Ukraine.
Investigations have linked Fuks, who is also known as Pavel (or Pavlo) Fuchs, to money allegedly stolen by former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich. And Fuks has partnered with Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky (aka Kolomoiskyi, Kolomoyskyy), the former owner of PrivatBank who is accused of embezzling billions of dollars out of Ukraine and has been sanctioned in the U.S. Fuks was described by a former U.S. official as a Russian asset.
New evidence, reported here for the first time, shows that several associates closely linked to Fuks are behind shell companies that purchased two units in Trump Tower in New York City.
New research, on the ownership of two units at Trump Tower in New York City and on transactions related to a previously reported apartment at 15 Central Park West, sheds new light on Fuks’ network.
Below is some background and recently uncovered information on Fuks, followed by details on entities and people in his network and how they are connected to the New York real estate properties.
Pavel Fuks was in D.C. for the Trump Inauguration
The name Pavel Fuks began to appear widely in the U.S. media during the Mueller investigation.
The New York Times revealed that prosectors for special counsel Robert Mueller were examining Ukrainians who went to Trump’s inauguration and that Pavel Fuks was in Washington for the inauguration. Fuks and Vitaliy Khomutynnik, a businessman and former Ukrainian politican, talked with Representatives Kevin McCarthy and Ed Royce.
Pavel Fuks filed a lawsuit in 2019, claiming he was defrauded of $200,000 he paid to Yuri Vanetik for VIP Inauguration tickets that did not materialize and had been a scam. In 2021 Yuri Vanetik, a resident of California, attorney and GOP fundraiser and lobbyist, filed a lawsuit claiming Pavel Fuks is a notorious criminal involved in money laundering and fraud and that he is an associate of East European criminal organizations and an agent of Russian intelligence services.
In 2022 Fuks won his lawsuit and the judge ordered Vanetik to refund Fuks’ $200,000, however Vanetik planned to appeal.
While the suit filed by Vanetik contains his claims and not verified reporting, it has interesting detailed information about Fuks criminal career and business partners and includes some links to external sources. Vanetik includes this partial list of business partners of Pavel Fuks, many sanctioned for criminal activity and many that will be familiar to those who followed the Mueller investigation and have researched oligarch and criminal networks:
Oleksandr Onyshchenko, Andrii Telizhenko aka Andrei Telezhenko, Suleiman Kerimov, Artem Pshonka, Gennady Kernes (recently deceased), Andrei Portnov, Mukhtar Ablyazov, Sberbank, Alfa Bank, Andrei Skoch, Eduard Stavytsky, Sergei Kurchenko, Sergei Arbuzov, Viktor Vekselberg, Viktor Yanukovych, and Oleg Deripaska.
Pavel Fuks hired Rudy Giuliani in 2017
In 2018 The New Voice of Ukraine reported that Pavel Fuks described work he was doing with Guiliani to support the city of Kharkiv in Ukraine.
…together with ex-mayor of New York Rudolph Giuliani, he is creating an investment support office for the city in the United States.
A story by Mother Jones provided a different description from Giuliani who said he had no knowledge of creating a U.S. office.
Giuliani told Mother Jones that Pavel Fuks, an oil and real estate magnate, hired his security firm, Giuliani Security & Safety, in 2017 to advise Kharkiv, a city of 1.4 million in Ukraine. “He was [a] sponsor of a preliminary study that my firm did of security and emergency management in Kharkiv and some on advice on a planned Holocaust Memorial,” Giuliani said in a text message.
A Ukrainian magazine, Novoye Vremya, reported last year that Fuks said he retained Giuliani to “create a U.S. office for supporting investment in” Kharkiv. When asked about Fuks’ claim, Giuliani said, “I have no knowledge of that.” He said he did not do any work in the United States for Fuks or Kharkiv.
The planned Holocaust Memorial that Giuliani said he discussed with Fuks is likely The Holocaust Memorial Center Babi Yar Foundation, of which Fuks is a prominent donor. Pavel Fuks published a piece in The Hill titled “In Ukraine, it’s time for a Holocaust memorial at Babi Yar.”
I wrote a story about crypto cases brought by the DOJ and SEC against Jack Abramoff and Rowland Marcus Andrade. Abramoff pleaded guilty but Andrade was fighting the charges and he made discovery requests to the government for information on multiple people including someone named Alexander Levin, who allegedly was in discussions to potentially fund a bitcoin show for $750,000.
When federal prosecutors were investigating Rudy Giuliani’s work in Ukraine they seized devices of several people, including Alexander Levin. Levin reportedly introduced Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman to Ukrainian oligarch Igor Kolomoisky. Alexander Levin also created the Babi Yar Memorial Fund which was supported by Ihor Kolomoisky, Pavel Fuks, Mikhail Fridman and others.
An FBI agent described Fuks as a Russian Intelligence asset and a source said Fuks paid Guiliani $300K
In August Insider broke a story about an FBI agent who told Congress that investigations into Giuliani and other Trump allies were suppressed. His statement was given to the Senate Judiciary Committee in July 2023 and described his work investigating foreign influence, money laundering and criminal networks in Russia and Ukraine. The statement covers several topics, including information on Hunter Biden, and described how his superiors thwarted his investigation specifically into Giuliani.
Buma’s statement notes that in 2017 Pavel Fuks paid Rudolph Giuliani $300,000 to serve as his U.S. lobbyist, a payment Giuliani described as ‘security consulting’. Buma references peer reviewed intelligence information reports that said Fuks was a co-opted asset of the Russian Intelligence Services (RIS) and that in December 2017 the U.S. DHS Customs and Border Protection revoked Fuks’ U.S. visa.
Fuks allegedly bankrolled false flag operation to help Russia before they invaded Ukraine
A March 2022 Rolling Stone exclusive by Seth Hettena — “Sources Say Oligarch Funded Scheme to Paint Swastikas in Ukraine” — described how Pavel Fuks allegedly paid for locals to paint Swastikas in the city of Kharkiv to support Putin’s pretext for invading Ukraine.
The effort, according to the sources, was part of a false flag operation to exaggerate Ukraine’s Nazi presence at a time when Putin was using it as a pretext for war… Through intermediaries, Fuks allegedly offered between $500 and $1,500 for street level criminals to vandalize city streets with pro-Nazi graffiti in December, January, and February.
Fuks’ business network and early links to Trump
A 2018 Al Jazeera investigation by Will Jordan looked at how Fuks took control of assets worth approximately $160 million that were previously owned by former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and were part of $1.5 billion in funds investigators believed were stolen from Ukraine.
Jordan described Fuks’ business in Russia and Ukraine and involvement in talks that spanned from 2004 to 2010 to build a Trump hotel in Moscow.
During the noughties, Fuchs cultivated links to now US President Donald Trump, negotiating with his organisation in 2004 and again between 2008 and 2010. He reportedly baulked at a $200m asking price for the rights to a Trump Hotel Moscow… In 2016, Newsweek quoted a former Trump executive as saying the organisation retains close links with Fuchs. He has also been photographed with Trump’s cybersecurity adviser, Rudy Giuliani.
Jordan explains how Pavel Fuk’s offshore vehicle Dorchester International Incorporated is part of a complex web, and how data from ICIJ shows connections between Dorchester and Group Chesterfield (which has several name variations and is not related to insurance company, Chesterfield Group).
Property records show Fuchs’ company owns the London premises, and Dorchester International is the named director of a number of Chesterfield’s registered entities.
Following is more information on Dorchester and Chesterfield that provides context for how the owners of two units in Trump Tower are closely linked to Pavel Fuks.
Pavel Fuks, Dorchester International and Chesterfield
According to the Panama Archives, the formal owners of Utmost Capital Limited are Dorchester International Inc, as well as Bahamian citizens Panayiota Isaias, Meloney Reed and Jane Michaelidou… MCG Development Limited and MCG Invest Limited (both British Virgin Islands) and 12 other companies have the same shareholders. MCG (MosCityGroup) is Fuchs’ development company, which in particular owns the Moscow City business center and other assets in Russia.
Meloney Reed, mentioned above, is a Director of Chesterfield Trust Company Limited based in Cyprus. She is also listed as Meloney Ann Reed on several companies such as Communication Commitment Limited in the UK where the secretary is Fuk’s company Dorchester International.
Data from the Panama Papers leak made available by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) illustrates the interconnections among Pavel Fuks, Dorchester, Chesterfield and Reed.
The diagram below on the left shows Pavel Fuks is the beneficiary of Midlene Company, with Dorchester International as a shareholder and Chesterfield an intermediary. In the diagram on the right Meloney Reed and Dorechester International are both shareholders of a different company, Devoir International, and Chesterfield is an intermediary. It is notable that Meloney Reed is not just an officer, but a co-owner of Devoir Inc. with Pavel Fuk’s through his company Dorchester.
Trump Tower unit owned by Rinjani Inc.
I first learned about the connection of Pavel Fuks to Trump Tower from an incredible researcher I met on Twitter, Braisincapital, who found that in December 2014, a shell company called Rinjani Inc. purchased unit 33A in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York City for $3,600,000.
The December 23, 2014 Deed for unit 33A in Trump Tower at 921 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, lists the buyer as Rinjani Inc. c/o Olga Klugina, Esq., 302 Fifth Avenue New York. Klugina is an attorney with a company which at the time of the purchase was called Rheem Bell & Mermelstein LLP.
Last year Will Bredderman wrote a story for the Daily Beast on the connections between Pavel Fuks and Edward Mermelstein, a co-founder of Rheem Bell & Mermelstein, who has since been appointed by Mayor Eric Adams as New York City’s Commissioner for International Affairs.
I obtained the New York State corporate records for Rinjani Inc. which was incorporated in Delaware in November 2014. The Certifcate of Dissolution from 2018 lists Meloney Reed and George Chambi, both employees of Chesterfield, as officers.
Property records show Trump Tower unit 33A was purchsed by Rinjani, Inc. in December 2014 and sold in 2017 to another company that still owns the unit, and the filings for both companies list people employed at Chesterfield, a trust and management company with multiple links to Pavel Fuks.
Trump Tower unit sold by Rinjani to Azurefire
The NYC government ACRIS property records include a March 1, 2017 Deed for the sale of unit 33A in Trump Tower from Rinjani Inc. to another shell company Azurefire Properties LLC. for $3,600,000, the exact price that Rinjani had paid in 2014. According to Curbed New York, NYC home prices nearly doubled in the 2010s, and appreciated in all markets from 2014 to 2017, making the lack of any profit from the sale notable (unless it was possibly due to an impact on the Trump brand).
The Deed lists Azurefire Properties with the address of a corporate services company in Dubai. Some news outlets reported that Fuks has lived in Dubai.
Azurefire Properties was incorporated in New York State on September 9, 2016. The biennial statement filed on September 1, 2022 was signed electronically by Simona Stanaityte – who happens to be an employee of Chesterfield Management along with Meloney Reed and George Chambi, officers of prior owner Rinjani Inc.
In June 2023, Azurefire Properties purchased a second apartment right next door to the first one, unit 33B for $1,950,000.
It is not clear who owns Rinjani or Azurefire Properties and the two units in Trump Tower now owned by Azurefire. However, both companies list employees of Chesterfield, and the most well-known name associated with Chesterfield is Pavel Fuks. Whoever owns or resides in the apartments had an interesting neighbor. In January 2016, at the time of Donald Trump’s inauguration attended by Fuks, Melania Trump purchased an apartment on the 33rd floor for $1.5 million.
Pavel Fuks and 15 Central Park West
The Daily Beast story on Pavel Fuks and Edward Mermelstein described how Fuks and his wife Tatiana Kudina had purchased a property at 15 Central Park West in New York City.
On Nov. 15, 2013, Fuks’ wife, Tatiana Kudina, signed mortgage paperwork for a $4.8 million condominium at 15 Central Park West which “irrevocably designates and appoints” Mermelstein as her agent, making him her lawyer and representative. That exact day, she inked other documents accepting her husband’s power of attorney, which Fuks had signed over to her in Russia just three weeks before.
The mortgage shows Fuks’ wife Kudina as the Member of P&N Holding 16M, LLC and lists Mermelstein as her agent.
Will Jordan had reported earlier on the 15 CPW property and mentioned that Fuks appeared to be close to ‘jeweler to the stars’ Jacob Arabo (aka Arabov).
Fuchs also appears close to a man known as the “King of Bling”, jeweler to stars including rappers 50 Cent and Kanye West… Jacob the Jeweler, aka Jacob Arabo, aka Yacub Arabov, is an American of Turkmen origin who spent 18 months in prison 10 years ago, after making a plea deal with prosecutors who had accused him of money laundering for Detroit’s Black Mafia gang.
The property filings for 15 CPW 16M apartment show that Fuks and his wife sold the property in November 2022 for $5.5 million to a company represented by Jacob the Jewelers wife Angela Arabov. A filing from the sales date lists Arabov’s company as a debtor and Pavel Fuks and Tatiana Kudina’s company P&N Holding 16M, LLC as the secured party, indicating they may have provided a loan (although no dollar amount is listed).
P&N Holding 16M, LLC and Natalia Pirogova
While Fuks and Kudina were reported to have purchased the 16M apartment in 2013, that is the date of the mortgage filing with Kudina’s name and her power of attorney with Fuks. However, the only sales deed available, in the New York City property records archive ACRIS, prior to the deed for the 2022 sale, was from July 23, 2008 and listed the same company name P&N Holding 16M, LLC used by Fuks and Kudina, but at that time it was owned by Natalia Pirogova. Unless the deed was mistakenly not filed, there is no record showing the sale from Pirogova to Kudina and Fuks, or that sales tax was paid.
There has been very little reporting on Natalia Pirogova, who purchased 15 CPW unit 16M in 2008, or her real estate transactions with Pavel Fuks and Tatiana Kudina.
A 2011 story in The Real Deal reported on a suit Pirogova filed against CIM Group over a $29 million loan. The story described Edward Mermelstein as a spokesperson and attorney for Pirogova. In 2018 a trustee in a bankruptcy proceeding in the Commercial Court of the Moscow Region against debtor Natalia Pirogova filed a petition in the Southern District of New York to pursue the case against Pirogova. The case was closed, but refiled again in 2021 and appears to be ongoing.
15 CPW unit 27C
Natalia Pirogova signed a power of attorney on July 23, 2008 with Sergey Chernysh for 15 CPW 16M. On the same date she also signed a POA with Chernysh for another unit 27C, which she had purchased a few months earlier for $14 million, through her company P&N Holding 27C, LLC (Pirogova had multiple companies with P&N in the name).
The Daily Beast story on Fuks and Mermelstein described a loan made related to 27C by Pavel Fuks’ wife Tatiana Kudina.
Documents filed in New York courts show that it wasn’t the first time the power couple did business with Mermelstein—or at 15 Central Park West. A short-lived and amicably resolved lawsuit Kudina filed in 2012 revealed she had loaned $3 million to another Mermelstein client to purchase another unit in the building, with Mermelstein’s firm acting as escrow agent.
The January 2012 lawsuit was filed by Daylight Properties and Tatiana Kudina against P&N Holding 27C, LLC and mentions an August 2011 contract for sale and that the $3 million was an advance payment pursuant to the agreement. That suit was discontinued and another suit was filed in August 2012 by Daylight and Tatiana Kudina against Rheem Bell & Mermelstein, P&N Holding 27C, LLC, P&N USA Management, Natalia Pirogova and two others who were renters in the unit. This suit was discontinued with prejudice in November 2012.
There is no record in ACRIS of the 2011 contract of sale between Daylight and P&N Holding 27C, LLC. However, there is a record for another contract.
In 2012 a company called Berry Ventures S.A. entered into a contract of sale with P&N Holdings 27C, LLC, but the contract was released in 2013. In an unusual coincidence, the address in these filings for P&N Holdings 27C, LLC is the same apartment in the Bronx used by Pavel Fuks on a 2021 mortgage satisfaction filing for 16M.
The tangled web of connections
The LinkedIn profile for Sergey Chernysh, who signed as power of attorney for Pirogova and signed various filings in 2008 for units at 15 CPW, shows he worked for Natalia Pirogova’s company NMP-Group from 2007-2009. Chernysh then worked at Protax Services, a company run by Ilya Bykov, who I wrote about previously here because he and former Trump advisor and convicted felon Felix Sater bought and sold a building in NYC in 2014-2015, and made an $8 million profit (20% above the purchase price) on behalf of Andrew Rozov, a Russian developer who was involved in Trump Moscow discussions. And from 2013-2014 Chernysh worked for Jacob & Co., the jewelry company owned by Jacob the Jeweler and his wife who purchased unit 15 CPW 16M from Fuks and Kudina.
Edward Mermelstein’s company was involved with filings for the Rinjani Inc purchase of 33A at Trump Tower and both units at 15 CPW. The Power of Attorney forms signed by Natalia Pirogova and Sergey Chernysh in 2008 on the 15 CPW units listed both of their addresses on the same floor as Mermelstein Development, a company run by Edward’s brother Uri, indicating multiple links between the Mermelsteins and Pirogova.
The overlapping connections – from Fuks and Kudina to Edward Mermelstein, his firm and his brother Uri, to Pirogova, Chernysh, and Jacob the Jeweler – are dizzying.
It must be noted that there is no indication of any wrongdoing related to these various transactions and all of the people involved. And Pavel Fuks has not been sanctioned in the United States.
However, given Fuks notorious past, his interactions with Trump years ago regarding building a Trump Moscow, his visit to Washington D.C. for inauguration and hiring of Trump lawyer Giuliani, it would certainly be newsworthy if he is the beneficial owner of two units in Trump Tower. And there is likely more to unravel in the complex transactions at 15 CPW.