A Russian-appointed governor in one of Ukraine’s partially occupied southeastern regions owns a British company despite being under sanctions, The Guardian reported Thursday.
The appearance of a high-profile collaborationist in the United Kingdom’s registry books raises questions about sanctions enforcement.
Vladimir Saldo, who has governed southern Ukraine’s Kherson region since April 2022 after it fell under Russian control, is reportedly listed as the owner of the agriculture commodities firm Grainholding Ltd.
Company documents show Saldo, 66, as co-owner of half of Grainholding’s $1.2-million capital, with an unnamed Ukrainian national holding the other half.
“Does this company make money? We don’t know,” said Labour party MP Margaret Hodge, criticizing the British corporate oversight system.
“And have they frozen this asset? We don’t know that either. This system is a mess from start to finish,” Hodge was quoted as saying.
The listing, which first appeared in November 2022, does not definitively prove that Saldo had actually formed Grainholding, as Britain does not require proof of identity when people form companies.
But details from Grainholding’s incorporation documents in Britain’s updated sanctions list suggest London believes the paperwork was indeed Saldo’s.
London imposed an asset freeze and travel ban against Saldo in June 2022 for actions that “destabilize Ukraine and undermine or threaten” its sovereignty.
The Guardian noted that sanctioned individuals are not formally banned from setting up companies in Britain.
Saldo did not respond to the publication's requests for comment.
Saldo is a former Kherson mayor and local businessman who was apparently poisoned in August amid a series of assassinations of Russian-installed officials in occupied Ukrainian territories. His team denied the reports that he was poisoned.
Saldo, who was awarded the Order for Merit to the Fatherland by President Vladimir Putin in December 2022, has been charged with treason by Kyiv.