Mind scored an important victory in the Supreme Court over Leogaming and Ibox shareholder Alena Shevtsova. She threatened journalists and organized an information campaign against the Mind. We explain what is going on and why

Mind scored an important victory in the Supreme Court over Leogaming and Ibox shareholder Alena Shevtsova. She threatened journalists and organized an information campaign against the Mind. We explain what is going on and why

After a series of articles about the promotion of Russian illegal online casinos that are served by Ukrainian banks, the Mind found itself under unprecedented pressure in the form of black PR and lawsuits initiated by Ibox Bank

Цей матеріал також доступний українською Этот материал также доступен на русском языке
Mind scored an important victory in the Supreme Court over Leogaming and Ibox shareholder Alena Shevtsova. She threatened journalists and organized an information campaign against the Mind. We explain what is going on and why
Head of Ibox Bank Pyotr Melnyk, Alyona Shevtsova, and Chairman of the NBU Council Bohdan Danilyshyn

On July 30, the Supreme Court of Ukraine in the panel of judges of the First Judicial Chamber of the Court of Cassation rejected Alena Shevtsova's claim and upheld the decision of the Court of Appeal of Kyiv in the lawsuit against the publisher of Mind LLC "Future Media".

The beneficiary of Leogaming Pay Alena Shevtsova (Degryk) requested the publisher of Mind.ua LLC "Future Media" to officially refute the material published on the portal. The lawsuit disputed the information about the business ties between the companies, which were connected to Alena Shevtsova (Degryk) and the Tyme payment system.

The plaintiff assured the court that she was not the head of the legal entity Mossada Investments Limited (former name Frugifera Investments Limited, number ΗΕ 309657).

In the documents, Alena Degrik, whose place of registration is the same as Alena Shevtsova (maiden name Degrik) in Odessa, was named as the head of the company; Shevtsova's lawyers tried to prove in court that these are different people and Shevtsova has nothing to do with Alena Degrik.

The main evidence from the editorial was the extracts from the Cyprus registry, which Shevtsova's lawyers tried to reject. At first, they simply accused the editorial office of publishing false information, and the court of the first instance did not take into account the extract from the online registry of Cyprus.

Read more about the explanation and documents hereThe Mind won the case on protection of honor, dignity, and business reputation on the claim of Alena Shevtsova in the Court of Appeal in Kyiv

After the editorial office received the original statements from Cyprus, the lawyers had no choice but to argue that Degrik and Shevtsova were different persons. They say she changed her last name from Degrik to Shevtsova during her marriage in 2016 to Yevgeny Shevtsov. The offshore company Mossada Investments Limited was likely registered in 2017 using Alena Degrik's passport.

This victory is very important for upholding the right to fair journalism. Especially as long as government agencies and most of the media remain oblivious to the gambling and banking mafia.

In this piece, we explain who is attacking Mind and why.

Why is Mossada significant, and why were Shevtsova's attorneys willing to cheat the court to remove this information?

This Cypriot offshore company has a long history. As the public registers show, Mossada evolved from the Cypriot Frugifera Investments, whose director was also Alona Degrik. It is the connection of directors that brings us to another branch of assets through Bilosnizhka2013 Ltd. (38545665), which was managed by Alona Degrik in 2013-2014. One hundred percent participant in Bilosnizhka was the Panamanian Bewley Trade Inc.

The latter had business connections (common registration addresses, nominal directors, etc.) with owners of corporate stakes in the Tyme payment system, which had its license revoked by the NBU due to the transfer of funds through Russian payment systems banned in Ukraine.

For example, Tyme used the Russian PS Contact to make payments in the Russian Federation through residents in Kuwait, thus it managed to circumvent Ukrainian sanctions against Russian payment system operators for a long time by splitting payments.

What is the point of the court's decision?

The Court of Appeals concluded, and the Supreme Court affirmed, that most of the information published by the Mind did not concern the plaintiff and therefore did not violate her non-property rights; some of the information was value judgments that could not be refuted because they were the subjective opinion of the author and not facts, while the reliability of the remaining information was supported by the written evidence available in the case.

Who is Alena Shevtsova?

Alena Shevtsova is a well-known participant in the payments market, the beneficiary, and the head of PS Leogaming Pay. Her financial partners are investment banker Vadim Gordievsky (9%) and U.S. citizens Viktor Kapustin (9%) and Yuri Kaplun (20.5%).

She also owns 9.97% of Ibox Bank, but persons who used to work with Alena Shevtsova or her husband are in key positions to run the bank.

For example, Svetlana Garmash, a member of the bank's board, is the treasurer at Ibox and oversees payments from the gambling business, and previously worked at FC Leogaming.

The bank's head of security is Alexander Lukashenko, who was head of the NPA's law enforcement department until 2019. He actively meets with employees of those agencies who are interested in the activities of FC Leogaming.

Former Leogaming PR person Maxim Sorokin, who is probably one of the organizers and authors of the fakes and information attack on the Mind, works as the head of the marketing department.

Shevtsova's business methods are very reminiscent of stories from the '90s. On the one hand, she actively advertises and leads a social life, nominates herself for various awards and titles, while on the other hand, her companies actively develop a shadow online payments market and aggressively attack competitors, media, and even law enforcement agencies. And this does not prevent her from serving illegal casinos in the Russian Federation.

Her husband, Yevgeny Shevtsov, is officially the richest policeman. He occupies the position of deputy head of the main investigation department of the National Police. In his declaration for 2020 in the "Income" section, he said that his family earned more than 90 million UAH last year.

Yes, Yevgeny Shevtsov's income, indicated in the declaration, is quite decent for his position in Ukraine – 412,000 UAH per year. All the rest was earned for the family by his wife.

The total amount of monetary assets of the family is declared at the level of 94.3 million UAH.

What is FC Leogaming?

This is a payment system organizer ( IPS Leo), which provides acceptance of payments in favor of various sites and services and transfer of funds through clearing accounts under the guise of settlements of its participants.

Payment systems (PS) is a simplified financial marketplace, which allows accepting payments for non-existent services without legal consequences for the PS itself.

For example, in the network of payment terminals or on the Kyivstar website it is possible to accept money for bets of bookmakers, financial pyramid schemes, casinos masked as deposits for cybersports, or non-existent computer games.

After that, the money goes to the accounts of the pimping firms, pretending to be service providers, which then pay to the same MPS for payments to individuals' bank cards. And the service of payments to individuals' bank cards means wages and bonuses in cash to avoid taxes and the purchase of cryptocurrencies.

This service is quickly provided for cash and cryptocurrency on the shadow market. Of course, the described scheme is nothing but the legalization of funds obtained illegally, both in terms of financial monitoring and in terms of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

Thus, the LEO payment system accepted money for payments through different services like Starmoney ("Kyivstar") or Financial World, Ibox, Tandem-Finance (2click) payment terminals, the LeoWallet e-wallet system (the e-money issuer is Ukrgazbank), or its network of terminals.

The inspection of the NBU, which attracted the attention of even the Western media, reveals that between February 2019 and December 2020, 774 million UAH in payments from bank cards of individuals were written off through LeoWallet (695 million UAH of which was written off by acquiring bank Concord Bank, 55 million UAH by Oshchadbank and 11 million UAH by Ibox). Another 143 million UAH were deposited by individuals through the cash desks of Oshchadbank and payment terminals.

Mind здобув важливу перемогу у Верховному суді у акціонера Leogaming та Ibox Шевцової. Вона погрожувала виданню та організували інформаційну кампанію проти Mind. Пояснюємо що відбувається і чому
Hereinafter the source is topnews.us

Then these funds were distributed as follows: 374,900,000 UAH to repay FC Tradegroup loan, UAH 268 million to the accounts of LLC Buslo (the payment destination states that the amounts were paid for Perfect World and GameXP games ); 23 million UAH was converted into e-money in the Leowallet wallets issued by Ukrgasbank, and another 9 million UAH were paid for participation in the sports poker tournament. The e-wallet was closed on December 31, 2020.

The funds were received by Trade Group LLC from May to December 2020, and as early as January 29 the NBU revoked three licenses of the financial company that allowed it to provide financial leasing and factoring services, and to lend money, including on the terms of a financial loan.

The assets of the financial company amounted to UAH 9.79 million; the ultimate beneficiary of the company is Tamara Lukyanenko, who is also, according to the information system YouControl, the beneficiary, participant, or manager of more than 180 legal entities. She is also a defendant in three criminal cases on forgery of documents for the state registration of legal entities.

Payments for games were made to the accounts of Buslo LLC. They amounted to 331 million UAH from February 13, 2019, to September 30, 2020. The company, in turn, had agreements with non-Ukrainian residents PERFECT WORLD GAMES Inc. (USA), PERFECT WORLD ENTERTAINMENT Inc. (USA) for "provision of information and technology services of access to online services according to the application (online games)". But according to the NBU, Buslo LLC did not make transfers to these companies during 2019 and 2020.

In October 2020, Buslo LLC was renamed Plasterer Group LLC, with the new line of business being "plastering works." At the time of working with Leogaming, the company was owned by Taras Savchuk, a defendant in criminal proceedings on alimony, theft, and cannabis cultivation. For the latter, he was sentenced to 4 years of suspended imprisonment.

All funds that came to Buslo LLC were transferred to the accounts of Oderin LLC under a commission agreement. Then the funds were transferred to the transit account of Ibox Bank under a contract for the receipt of payments for subsequent crediting to the account of individuals. Ibox Bank made payments to the payment cards of individuals as instructed by Oderin LLC. This service is widespread in the shadow market and is provided by the payment systems together with the banks.

Mind здобув важливу перемогу у Верховному суді у акціонера Leogaming та Ibox Шевцової. Вона погрожувала виданню та організували інформаційну кампанію проти Mind. Пояснюємо що відбувається і чому

Who works with the LEO payment system

In total IPS LEO has 23 members, including four commercial banks (IBOX Bank, ComInBank, Sky Bank, and Concord Bank) and 18 non-bank financial institutions, in addition to the FC Leogaming Pay itself: FC Sistema (Sistema brand), FC Swift Guarantee (City24 brand), FC Starmoney (Kyivstar), FC Business Retail Group and others.

Mind здобув важливу перемогу у Верховному суді у акціонера Leogaming та Ibox Шевцової. Вона погрожувала виданню та організували інформаційну кампанію проти Mind. Пояснюємо що відбувається і чому

The total amount of registered transfers in IPS LEO for almost 2 years, which the NBU checked, is 18.2 billion UAH. The largest contributors are 11.7 billion through payment terminals, 2.8 billion through Ibox Bank acquiring online terminals, 1.06 billion UAH through Kyivstar Smartmoney, 0.9 billion UAH through Leogaming site and mobile application, and others.

The NBU analyzed transfers with the purpose of "Sports poker cybersports tournament", and found that the total amount for the period from May 14 to December 10, 2020, is 462 million UAH.

More than 90% of the payments went to the accounts of Whitegol LLC, Digispace LLC, Redsin LLC, Melbron LLC, Celios LLC, and Vimes LLC. All of these companies were subjects of criminal proceedings by the SSU and the GBR. And some of them were also found in the course of the Mind's journalistic investigation last year.

Mind здобув важливу перемогу у Верховному суді у акціонера Leogaming та Ibox Шевцової. Вона погрожувала виданню та організували інформаційну кампанію проти Mind. Пояснюємо що відбувається і чому

Related articlesWorking for the Russian Federation, offshore and " computer wholesale": how do online casinos work in Ukraine

According to market participants, the IPS earns a commission from each transaction, and if the commission for an ordinary payment is from 0.5 to 1%, the average market commission for betting companies that have received a license is 3%, and for the gray schemes with substitution of the payment designation, the commission may be up to 8%.

What does this have to do with Viktor Yushchenko?

Ukraine's third president Viktor Yushchenko became head of the IPS Leo Supervisory Board in June. According to the Mind, his salary was $20,000 a month; Alena Shevtsova also donated to his wife's charitable foundation. Good and inexpensive patronage came out for Leogaming because the NBU would not feel comfortable "offending" the former head of the NBU and the president of Ukraine.

What is Ibox Bank?

Ibox Bank is a small retail bank, which processes payments in Ibox terminals. As of the beginning of the year, the bank's assets amounted to UAH 2.13 billion, which is 0.096% of the total assets of the banking system.

According to the NBU (the results of the check are at the disposal of the Mind), the main services provided by the bank are top-ups of payment cards (more than 80% of the transactions), the absolute majority of which are top-ups of Monobank cards. The rest is repayment of loans and replenishment of gaming accounts (video games, lotteries, and sports poker) or payment for various services.

Vladimir Drobot owns 74% of the bank, and another 6% is owned by Yevgeny Berezovsky, the former owner of the Ibox terminal network.

Alena Shevtsova acquired 4% in October 2020 and increased her stake to 9.97% on April 30, 2021. The acquisition of a stake of less than 10% does not require the approval of the NBU.

Her joining the bank's shareholders and appointing related people to key positions coincided with the bank's growing activity on the online acquiring market.

At the time of the beginning of the work on an article about black acquiring the editorial staff checked the information from the sources in the NBU, the payments with substitution of destination were allegedly processed mainly through Concorde Bank. 

But the results of "mystery buyer" purchases showed that the largest operator of the market at the beginning of 2021 was Ibox Bank.

You can read the results of the investigation hereDealing Cards Face Down: How Illegal Acquiring is Flourishing in Ukraine

In short, the editorial staff chose 8 online casinos, which at the time of publication have not yet received a license. And by depositing and withdrawing funds, we analyzed the financial institution and how they provide payments. It turned out that these sites work predominantly with two banks: Ibox (mostly) and Concord.

Which sites does Ibox Bank work with?

Ibox accepts and processes payments in favor of the largest bookmaker company in Ukraine, which received a license. But it did this not only in favor of that company. Since the beginning of the summer, Ibox has become the largest operator of the market of illegal Russian online casinos.

At the sites of 1XBet, PinUP, Cat casino, Pokerdom, Slottica, Vulkan Original, Richprize, Melbet, Vegas Grand, Leon, Casino7, AVADA, Grand, Vostok, Reut VIP, Fizzslots, Mostbet, Redstar, Slava, Fresh, Vulkan Deluxe, Vulkan 24 UP-x, Deluxe Casino, Champion, Pharaoh, Azart Play, GMSlots, GGbet, Olimp acquiring merchants Ibox Bank (PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV) is used to replenish electronic accounts and betting. The payment designation or MCC code is 7994 (Video games), or 6012 (Financial institutions), which is miscoding and a violation of IPS Visa & Mastercard rules.

Online casino sites where deposits are processed by Ibox bank (use horizontal scrolling)

Casino o BM name

Site

MCC

Acquiring bank

Merchant's name

Merchant Id

Terminal Id

Payment page URL

Merchant’s URL

Cat casino

https://www.catcasino.com/ru

7994 (video games and arcades)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

GATEWAY KYIV UKR

IE1448

I3001448

https://payment-page.netdevtech.xyz/pay/card

Pokerdom

https://yd7pokerdom.com/

7994 (video games and arcades)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

EAL KYIV UKR

IE1304

I3001304

https://cardprocessing.club/pay

Slottica

https://6slottica.com/

7994 (video games and arcades)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

GATEWAY KYIV UKR

IE1448

I3001448

https://app.bigwpay.com/payment/

Vulkan Original

https://wulkan-original.org/

7994 (video games and arcades)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

GATEWAY KYIV UKR

IE1448

I3001448

https://bill.trust-payment.net/ru/

Richprize

https://richprize.com/

7994 (video games and arcades)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

GPUA015

IE1434

I3001434

https://pay.paymentiq.io/

Melbet

https://melbet-0884036.top/ru/

7994 (video games and arcades)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

GPUA015

IE1434

I3001434

https://pay.api-pay.net/public/cards/

https://pg-notif.taslink.com.ua/MPI/ResponseProcessing.jsp

Vegas Grand

https://vegas-grand15.com/

7994 (video games and arcades)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

GPUA014

IE1433

I3001433

https://pay.api-pay.net/

https://pg-notif.taslink.com.ua/MPI/ResponseProcessing.jsp

Leon

https://2875.info/

7994 (video games and arcades)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

GPUA015

IE1434

I3001434

https://pg-notif.taslink.com.ua/MPI/ResponseProcessing.jsp

Leon

https://5007.info/

7994 (video games and arcades)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

GZE045RD

IE1088

I3001088

https://pg-notif.taslink.com.ua/MPI/ResponseProcessing.jsp

Casino7

https://casino7best.com/

7994 (video games and arcades)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

GZE045RD

IE1088

I3001088

https://pay.api-pay.net/

https://pg-notif.taslink.com.ua/MPI/ResponseProcessing.jsp

VAVADA

https://vavadaaz.com/ru/

7994 (video games and arcades)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

GZE029RD

IE1007

I3001007

https://pg-notif.taslink.com.ua/MPI/ResponseProcessing.jsp

grand

https://grand-kaz.com/

7994 (video games and arcades)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

GZE045RD

IE1088

I3001088

https://pg-notif.taslink.com.ua/MPI/ResponseProcessing.jsp

Восток

https://www.rvcassino.com/

7994 (video games and arcades)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

GZE045RD

IE1088

I3001088

https://pay.settlepay.net/cards/ru/

https://pg-notif.taslink.com.ua/MPI/ResponseProcessing.jsp

Reut VIP

https://reut-vip.casino/

7994 (video games and arcades)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

GZE045RD

IE1088

I3001088

https://pay.settlepay.net/cards/ru/

https://pg-notif.taslink.com.ua/MPI/ResponseProcessing.jsp

Fizzslots

https://fizzslots.com/ru/

7994 (video games and arcades)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

NDPAY

IE0767

I3000767

https://cpay.global-payment-solution.com/ru/

https://pg-notif1.taslink.com.ua/MPI/ResponseProcessing.jsp

Fizzslots

https://fizzslots.com/

7994 (video games and arcades)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

GZE047RD

IE1090

I3001090

https://pay.api-pay.net/cards/ru

https://pg-notif.taslink.com.ua/MPI/ResponseProcessing.jsp

Mostbet

https://mostbet-bk.appspot.com/zerkalo.html

7994 (video games and arcades)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

GZE045RD

IE1088

I3001088

 https://pay.api-pay.net/cards/ru/

https://pg-notif.taslink.com.ua/MPI/ResponseProcessing.jsp

Redstar

https://www.redstarcasino32.eu/casino

7994 (video games and arcades)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

GZE045RD

IE1088

I3001088

 https://pay.api-pay.net/cards/ru/

https://pg-notif.taslink.com.ua/MPI/ResponseProcessing.jsp

Слава

https://spin.slava-klub.com/

7994 (video games and arcades)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

EFA006ME

IE0881

I3000881

https://card.payme-platform.com/ru/pay

https://pg-notif2.taslink.com.ua/MPI/ResponseProcessing.jsp

Fresh

https://fresh171.casino/

7994 (video games and arcades)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

GZE045RD

IE1088

I3001088

https://pg-notif.taslink.com.ua/MPI/ResponseProcessing.jsp

Sol

https://sol112.casino/

7994 (video games and arcades)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

GZE045RD

IE1088

I3001088

https://pg-notif.taslink.com.ua/MPI/ResponseProcessing.jsp

Vulkan Deluxe

https://deluxevulkan.xyz/

7994 (video games and arcades)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

GATEWAY KYIV UKR

IE1448

I3001448

https://pay.paymentsllc.com/

Vulkan 24

https://vulkan24clb.online/

7994 (video games and arcades)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

GATEWAY KYIV UKR

IE1448

I3001448

https://bill.trust-payment.net/ru/

UP-x

https://up0q7.online/

6012(member financial institution)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

EU_MA_PAY005 KYIV UKR

IE0443

I3000443

https://purchase.skoriton.com/ru/

Deluxe Casino

https://de-luxe6.casino/

6012(member financial institution)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

GATEWAY

IE1025

I3001025

https://gate.mrbl.cc/payments

https://pg-notif2.taslink.com.ua/MPI/ResponseProcessing.jsp

Чемпион

https://championslot.net/

6012(member financial institution)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

GATEWAY

IE1025

I3001025

https://payment-route.com/

https://pg-notif2.taslink.com.ua/MPI/ResponseProcessing.jsp

Фараон

https://777faraon.website/

7994 (video games and arcades)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

GATEWAY KYIV UKR

IE1023

I3001023

https://bill.trust-payment.net/ru/

Azart Play

https://aplayca.xyz/ru

6012(member financial institution)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

GATE KYIV UKR

IE0649

I3000649

https://soft.pionpay.com/payments

GMSlots

https://gms-delluxe.biz/

7994 (video games and arcades)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

GATEWAY KYIV UKR

IE1448

I3001448

https://bill.trust-payment.net/ru/

GGbet

https://gg171.bet/ru

7994 (video games and arcades)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

GATEWAY KYIV UKR

IE1448

I3001448

https://bill.trust-payment.net/ru/

Olimp

https://olimp.com/

7994 (video games and arcades)

PJSC IboxBank UKR KYIV

EU_MA_PAY002 KYIV UKR

IE1198

I3001198

https://bill.trust-payment.net/ru/

Source: badbank.io

What is wrong with such transfers?

Transfers with substituted payment designation have the attributes of money laundering because payments are made for one service, for example, replenishment of an account on a gaming site, but in fact the funds are transferred to the accounts of entities that have nothing to do with these games.

The main activity of such entities is "provision of other information services", but not only. Thus, Digispace LLC, Vaimza LLC, Celios LLC, and Melbron LLC have MCC 46.51 "Wholesale trade in computers, peripheral equipment and software", Redsin LLC has MCC 73.11 "Advertising agencies".

According to the NBU, more than 90% of financial transactions with Visa and Mastercard initiated by PC holders on FC Leogaming Pay LLC sites were assigned High-Risk Merchant Category Code (MCC) 7994 -Video games.

The scheme is simple enough: a video game site is created on the Internet, for example, https://pw.mail.ru, and the site owner applies to a bank or financial company for a service to accept payments to replenish the game account. The bank issues an acquiring terminal, that is, the ability to process payments at a specific electronic address.

In the case of Ibox, the addresses look like this: https://pay.api-pay.net/, https://cardprocessing.club/pay, https://bill.trust-payment.net/ru/, etc. These are the same sites you get to during online casino account replenishment.

Why is black acquiring used?

If you are engaged in illegal activities, the easiest way to accept payments is to substitute the destination of payments. If you sell drugs you put the "children's toys" designation, if you sell deposits to online casinos you put "video games". The average rate in the market is 8%. Bank assumes all the risks with the payment systems on the NBU financial monitoring.

Ibox and Concord Bank were so successful in this market that when the Russian Federation started talking about taking gambling turnover outside the country, they took over 50% of the market.

How do Ibox and Concorde work in Russia?

This is an interesting story, which deserves a separate article. In short, after the Central Bank of the Russian Federation began to fight against illegal online casinos, the latter switched to work with two Ukrainian banks, mainly Ibox Bank and sometimes with Concord.

After that, the local media also began to pay attention to the black acquiring market. How it works in the Russian Federation was described by Bell. At the end of 2020, the local regulator revoked the licenses of some small banks because they were too keen on transfers to online casinos and bookmakers' offices.

And in December, the regulator banned the largest local payment system, Qiwi, from making payments to foreign merchant accounts and issued a fine of 11 million rubles ($150,000). Similar restrictions and fines were imposed on several other market players.

These signals were enough for the major banks to shut down all services with gambling and high-risk payments from the beginning of 2021.

But the local Central Bank continued the attack on the market, and in April it took licenses from three banks: NPO RIB, RFI Bank, and the Russian Financial Union. The regulator accused all these banks of operating illegal online casinos.

Read more abouthow the black acquiring market works in Russia here.

Explaining the "breakthrough" of Ukrainian banks in these conditions is very simple. The work of Ukrainian banks is not noticed by the NBU, law enforcement agencies, and most of the media, so they can give dumping conditions for the market of shadow gambling.

And the developed market of transferring non-cash funds into cash through cryptocurrencies and at the same time the loyal financial monitoring allows anonymous and efficient payments to cash and non-cash accounts of clients in offshore companies.

In addition, most of the teams – developers of online casinos of the entire former Soviet Union in recent years are based in Ukraine. For example, a fairly well-known company Lucky Labs, according to media reports, is one of the developers of software in Ukraine. Its offices have been repeatedly searched by the SSU.

Over the past year, Ibox has increased its presence on the Russian market. According to Mind's sources in the international payment systems, only in June 2021, the MasterCard system processed $ 80 million card payments with the payment initiator in Russia, and Visa processed $ 50 million. Although, according to market participants, "such volumes are much larger".

About Badbank.io

The very fact that the traffic of illegal gambling miscoded payments goes largely through Ukraine, with Ukrainian banks processing payments to online casinos for Russian citizens, should interest the Russian Federal Security Service and the local Central Bank.
Before Ibox Bank, RFI Bank was engaged in similar activities in the Russian Federation, and its license was revoked.

The first to point out the anomaly was the Telegram channel BadBank, which systematically monitors the use of shadow acquiring in illegal casinos. If you go to this channel, you will see details of daily monitoring purchases at the sites of illegal Russian casinos.

After Ibox Bank took over 50% of gambling payments, Badbank began to actively cover the work of Ibox in Russia and send requests to various Russian law enforcement agencies, representative offices of payment systems, and the Central Bank. At the beginning of August, the volume of transactions processed by Ibox decreased significantly.

Why Visa and MasterCard payment systems keep silent?

In the U.S. and the EU, the Visa and MasterCard payment systems are quite tough on banks that allow money laundering through miscoding. So why are they loyal to such banks in Ukraine?

The Mind sent inquiries to the payment systems but has not received an answer at the time of publication.

According to employees of these banks, which we managed to talk to anonymously, this is because in Ukraine there is no full-fledged Visa and MasterCard office, and the management of representative offices of post-Soviet countries is more concerned with development than with the control of compliance with the rules.

In addition, loyalty may be connected not only with being busy and focused on work. For example, in 2020 mass media wrote about friendly relations between Igor Berezansky, representative of Mastercard in Ukraine, and Alena Shevtsova.

But most likely, the ambiguity of the local legislation and the loyal attitude of the regulators are more important reasons, because the latter are in no hurry to withdraw licenses from the scheming banks, so the IPS can afford not to pay attention to them.

That is, it is more about a certain consensus on the permissibility of violations.

Why the NBU keeps silent?

The Mind has repeatedly made inquiries to the National Bank. And at the time of publication, it is also waiting for an answer to its latest request.

Previously, the NBU mainly referred to banking secrecy in its answers and only confirmed the fact of inspections of FC Leogaming Pay and Ibox Bank.

In informal conversations, when asked about the measures to be taken, the NBU representatives hinted at the loyalty to the bank on the part of Alexey Berezhny, head of the Financial Monitoring Department, and Yaroslav Matuzko, Deputy Head of the NBU.

This can probably explain the regulator's passive stance on the activity of Ibox Bank and FC Leogaming Pay on the online casino market.

Why was a dirty information campaign organized against Mind?

The editorial board was confronted with a rather unexpected and aggressive method of fighting against the publication.

There were several reasons for this aggression:

  • Mind does not work commercially with editorial materials (i.e., it does not publish paid-for materials and does not remove them for money), and so it was not possible to "negotiate" with the publication.
  • Mind refused to remove investigative material, either under threat of legal action or as a result of any other blackmail.
  • Shevtsova actively mops up any negative materials about her business activities in the Ukrainian media.

The Mind is ready to defend its publications in court, and the continuous attack on the publication only forces the editorial board to continue investigating

Why then do Ibox Bank and Alena Shevtsova continue to finance lawsuits and a dirty campaign against the Mind?

Most likely, the ultimate goal is to discredit the results of journalistic work in general, namely Mind.ua and to bankrupt the publication.

After all, mass lawsuits demand considerable expenses, which an independent editorial office cannot always afford. If you deprive the editorial office of the possibility to defend itself in a qualified manner, you can work miracles in Ukrainian courts, calling black white and misleading the court.

Read also: "Court Denies Ibox Bank to Recover 1 Million Hryvnias from the Mind"

Was the Mind the only victim of the dirty attack?

The immediate answer is no. All media outlets, bloggers, journalists, people's deputies, or lawyers who dared to investigate or publish any material about the Shevtsovs were immediately attacked and victimized. (We are not assessing now whether such materials were the result of journalistic work or someone else's order.) Let's recall just a few examples of stories that were based on documented facts.

For example, in September 2019, Channel 5 published an investigation in the Stop Corruption show. In their material, journalists showed how the National Police successfully conducts searches in online casinos, posting photos of seized money and equipment. The main conclusion of the story was that in the end, such actions were only an element of pressure on the business competitors of Shevtsov's wife.

After a while, the material was removed, and the editors of the program apologized to the defendants.

In 2018, Yevgeny Shevtsov was running for the position of head of the first directorate of the organization of pre-trial investigations in the GBI. At that time, blogger and journalist Denis Ivanov published an article about his activities.

The object of the dirty information campaign was Denis Ivanov's father, who works as a professor at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. He and Denis himself were searched after the publication. As a result, Ivanov was forced to leave Ukraine with his family after receiving personal threats.

In 2019, a court decision appeared that blocked dozens of websites, including the "Blogs" section on korrespondent.net and ukrpress.info.

The reason for the blocking was the posting of material on the sites about the criminal case against Viktor Zayats under Article 255 and Article 189 of the Criminal Code on blackmail and extortion of money.

Another attack in 2020 took place against the lawyer Masi Nayem and Golos MP Oleksandra Ustinova. Last March, Ustinova sent a request to Minister Avakov, signed by 50 MPs, regarding the legality of the purchase of premises by Alena Degrik-Shevtsova on Shota Rustaveli Street in Kyiv.

The request was formed based on the story of "Bigus.info", in which journalists told about the premises, which the Shevtsova family received as a gift after the arrest was removed from it by a criminal group of "black registrars". And the activities of the registrars were investigated by Shevtsov's office.

As a result, both Nayem and Ustinova also became victims of judicial pressure and an information campaign.

In August 2021, the publication Apostrof also won in the Supreme Court against Shevtsova.

The publication defended the material, which essentially described the fact of making money in the gambling market and aggressive attacks on journalists.

About the Courts against the Mind

At this time, there are four disputes with the editorial office. And only one has come to an end. The first is over a story about a financial company called Tyme. The Supreme Court ruled definitively in favor of the Mind publication on July 30.

Leo, the beneficiary of payment systems, sues the Mind

Court Name

Number

Plaintiff

The subject of the case

Progress

Note

Civil Court of Cassation

758/9853/18

Alena Shevtsova

on the protection of honor, dignity, and business reputation

The complaint was dismissed

On the complaint of the plaintiff, Alena Vladimirovna Shevtsova

That is, if you see news somewhere that Shevtsova has won a trial against the Mind, it is a lie or manipulation. Sometimes the court decisions on procedural motions become the reason for such news.

The second lawsuit was about Mind's investigation into the operation of online casinos in Ukraine.

"Working for the Russian Federation, offshores and "computers wholesale": how online casinos work in Ukraine."

At first, it was considered by the Brovary city court. But literally at the last moment, the plaintiffs took away the claims.

Court Name

Number

Plaintiff

The subject of the case

Progress

Note

Brovary city court in the Kyiv Oblast

361/7839/20

Ibox Bank

on the protection of the personal non-property right to inviolability of business reputation and compensation for moral (non-property) harm

The statement of claim was left without consideration

On the complaint of Ibox Bank

Brovary city court in the Kyiv Oblast

361/7459/20

Alena Shevtsova

on the protection of honor, dignity, and business reputation

The statement of claim was left without consideration

On the complaint of the plaintiff, Alena Vladimirovna Shevtsova

Afterward Ibox bank thought it over and filed an identical suit to the Economic Court. In the suit, the bank asks to remove the name of the bank from the subtitle and considers that the mention of its participation in criminal proceedings deserves moral compensation.

Court Name

Number

Plaintiff

The subject of the case

Progress

Economic Court in Kyiv City

910/11737/21

Ibox Bank

on the recognition of the information unreliable, the obligation to take action, the recovery of moral damages for 1000000.00 UAH

The statement of claim has been accepted for consideration and proceedings have been instituted

Perhaps the reason for the change of the Brovary court to an economic court was the success of another case against the publication.

The third lawsuit concerned the rating of banks. We wrote more about the editorial board's arguments here.

The case is now accepted for consideration by the Kyiv Commercial Court of Appeal.

Court Name

Number

Plaintiff

The subject of the case

Progress

Economic Court in Kyiv City

910/4007/21

Ibox Bank

to recognize the information as untrue and violating the personal non-property right to inviolability of business reputation, to oblige the defendant to refute the untrue information, to oblige the defendant to remove the information recognized as untrue, to recover from the defendant moral (non-property) harm

An appeal has been filed against the decision of the court of the first instance

Another material, which Ibox Bank is unsuccessfully trying to refute, concerned the operation of black acquiring in Ukraine. But the statement of claim was returned to the plaintiff because the latter did not correct its drawbacks.

Court Name

Number

Plaintiff

The subject of the case

Progress

Podil district court in Kyiv

758/4864/21

Ibox Bank

On protection of personal non-property right to inviolability of business reputation, the recognition of false information, the obligation to refute false information, and compensation for moral damages for 1000000 UAH

The statement of claim is recognized as filed and returned to the plaintiff

There will be no conclusion to this story yet. Most of those with whom the editorial office has had to communicate about the attack on the media argue that we need to "make peace". In general, few people in Ukraine accept that it is possible to fight for truth or principles, or simply to be able to do their journalistic work honestly.

Our position is very simple. As long as the Mind.ua website exists, we will not fall for blackmail and threats.

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