During Russia's war in Ukraine, Estonian businessman Oleg Ossinovski transferred his Russian railway businesses to likely close relative Veronika Ossinovskaja's name, who thereafter exported vast amounts of iron and iron ore out of Russia for companies owned by oligarch Alisher Usmanov, investigative weekly Eesti Ekspress reported Monday.
Since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the Estonian company that has been the largest exporter of goods from Russia is a little-known logistics company named Vero Logistics OÜ, Eesti Ekspress noted in a longer report (link in Estonian).
The company has transported €777 million worth of iron and iron ore across the eastern border, the bulk of which has been brought into the EU. According to the paper's information, such rail freight shipments continued through at least July 2023.
In its 2022 annual report, Vero Logistics explained that this iron was being shipped in transit via Estonia and Latvia. Vero Logistics – known until March 2022 as Skinest Wood – was originally founded by Oleg Ossinovski.
That April, the company was transferred from Ossinovski's name to that of a woman named Veronika Ossinovskaja, a Russian citizen from Omsk – where Oleg likewise spent his childhood – and with the same patronymic as Oleg.
Ossinovski declined to speak with the paper on the phone about Vero Logistics, and didn't respond when asked whether Ossinovskaja might be his sister, for example.
Veronika Ossinovskaja has also been registered as the new owner of Ossinovski's Russian subsidiaries as well.
Serving as CEO of Vero Logistics is Indrek Paal, who is also CEO of Veronika Ossinovskaja's Latvian holding company Vero Trade – to which Skinest's former Russian businesses belong.
Speaking to Eesti Ekspress, Paal said that he speaks with Ossinovskaja, the owner of the company, just about every day, adding that he doesn't discuss any company-related matters with Ossinovski. He declined to comment regarding whether conducting business with Russia is ethical or not.
Editor: Aili Vahtla