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‪As Kenya Nears Sh70B Tax Waiver Deal With Belarusian Tycoons, Intent Of Its Shadowy Oligarchs In Kenya Is Questioned‬

Alexander Zingman’s Aftrade DMCC is said to have struck a deal with Robert Nyasimi of RentCo Africa in a controversial leading partnership.

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Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko when he met with President Ruto in State House Nairobi, Zingman was also in attendance.

Kenya is aiming at becoming the regional economic powerhouse of Africa, in its ambitious strategy, the country is opening up ways for investors to make their investments and in line making all mannerisms of attractive investment deals.

Shadowy Businessmen

In one of its latest moves to bolster economic relations and eliminate double taxation, in the middle of this mega deal are two shadowy businessmen Oleg Vodchits and Alexander Zingman that Kenya Insights has covered extensively and explained how their business deals with other African countries have been marred by controversies, corruption scandals leading to the question of their main intent as they turned their horns to Kenya. Hold on to this we will come to tackle them in details later on, but first, the details of the Kenya, Belarus deal.

Double Taxation Agreement (DTA)

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The Kenyan government, under President William Ruto’s administration, has announced its commitment to finalizing a Double Taxation Agreement (DTA) with the Republic of Belarus. The DTA, which will focus on taxes on income, is being spearheaded by the National Treasury on behalf of the Kenyan government.

The National Treasury has extended an invitation to stakeholders to provide their input on the draft agreement, which can be obtained from the National Treasury offices during working hours. This move is seen as a crucial step in the process of engaging the public and stakeholders in the development of this significant agreement.

The announcement comes at a time when economic ties between Kenya and Belarus are growing stronger. Several Belarusian businesses have already entered into agreements to supply plant machinery and invest in Special Economic Zones in Kenya. These deals, backed by both governments, are expected to generate over Ksh70 billion for the Belarusian tycoons involved.

The DTA, once in force, will ensure that Belarusian investors are exempt from paying income tax in Kenya, as they would have already paid taxes in their home country. This development is particularly significant given the recent controversy surrounding a Ksh31 billion machinery deal between Kenya and Belarus. Despite the controversy, Kenya has shown its willingness to continue engaging with the Belarusian government.

In addition to the machinery deal, Kenya has also signed a Ksh39 billion agreement with a Potash Company to invest in the Dongo Kundu Special Economic Zone. The Belarusian company is expected to set up a fertilizer plant in the coastal economic zone, further solidifying the economic partnership between the two countries.

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This move by the Kenyan government to eliminate double taxation with Belarus is seen as a strategic step towards fostering economic growth and attracting foreign investment. It is also a clear indication of Kenya’s commitment to strengthening its economic ties with Belarus, despite the controversy and condemnation the European country has faced from the West.

Controversial Belarusian Businessmen

Behind the curtains, the administration of Kenyan President William Ruto is reportedly establishing ties with two Belarusian businessmen, Oleg Vodchits and Alexander Zingman, who have a history of controversial business dealings in Africa.

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Closely linked to the Belarusian dictator Aleksandr Lukashenko, these shadowy businessmen have being integrated into the Kenyan government as quasi middlemen in Kenya posing as “advisers for the Gulf countries,” despite their checkered past.

Their first prominent debut was when Zingman and Vodchits were listed as part of a delegation from then Kenyan Minister of Commerce Moses Kuria during his official trip to Qatar in February 2023 where he met several high-ranking characters, such as the general manager of the Qatar National Bank, Abdulla Mubarak Al-Khalifa.

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While their official duties weren’t disclosed, it was clear they were establishing themselves in the core circles of Kenya’s establishment. This controversial embrace of questionable characters was seen by many in the diplomatic community as a heavy gamble that would by itself pose potential diplomatic risks associated with dealing with a country under sanctions from Western nations.

The two businessmen have a history of controversial business dealings in Africa. In 2021, they were detained for almost two weeks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) by intelligence agents who questioned them about their ties to former president Joseph Kabila. They were also suspected of attempting to sell weapons to Kabila, which led to their arrest.

Zingman is very “close to former Zambian President Edgar Lungu, “friend of Moses Katumbi”

Zingman was arrested in mid-March 2022 with two of his associates by the ANR when he went down from a plane in Lubumbashi from Harare. The ANR had suspected him that the Belarusian had helped Kabila to weaken his successor Félix Tshisekedi. And then Zingman was released following pressure from Qatar, Kagame’s ally. Zingman is an arms dealer who allowed the sale of military equipment to Zambia under Edgar Lungu and Zimbabwe.

Media shy Oleg Vodchit seen in a rare photo with his partner Alexander Zingman meeting Equatorial Guinea leader.

Media shy Oleg Vodchit seen in a rare photo with his partner Alexander Zingman meeting Equatorial Guinea leader.

Alexander Zingman is Honorary Consul of Belarus in Zimbabwe. He is also known to be close to the Belarusian regime of Alexander Lukashenko. Olga Shevko, representative of Aftrade DMCC, was present in Harare during the latter’s visit to Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on January 31, 2023. On this occasion, nearly $66 million in agricultural supplies were promised by the Belarusian government in a series of contracts signed by Olga Shevko.

Aftrade and MTZ, one of Europe’s biggest tractor exporters, will supply at least 3,575 tractors to Zimbabwe between 2023 and 2024. Aftrade has distribution rights for MTZ equipment in the country.

The tractors are leased to Zimbabwean farmers through the state-owned farm lender AFC as well as CBZ. MTZ has set up a local service centre, under Bison Agro.

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RentCo Africa Limited

In Kenya, Kenya Insights has information that leasing company RentCo Africa Limited will be working with the shady company already the group’s CEO and founder, Robert Nyasimi has sealed the deal, details on this to be handled separately.

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Zingman, in particular, has been involved in several high-profile arms deals in Africa, including the sale of helicopters from Russia and the contract for the supply of Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircrafts.

Controversial Sh31B Tractor Deal

While Zingman appears to be orchestrating deals for his countrymen, it’s believed he stands to benefit the most from a multibillion dollar sale deal in the agricultural sector.

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He is also believed to be brokering a Sh31 billion tractor deal between Kenya and Belarus, a move that has raised eyebrows due to Belarus’s status under Western sanctions.

The Kenyan government’s decision to engage with these controversial figures is seen as a risky diplomatic gamble. The United States, United Kingdom, and European Union have imposed sanctions on Belarus due to its support for Russia in the Ukrainian war. By dealing with Belarus, the Kenyan government is potentially exposing itself to diplomatic tensions with these Western powers.

Kenyans viewing one of the tractors during trade fair held in Belarus last year.

Kenyans viewing one of the tractors during trade fair held in Belarus last year.

Aftrade DMCC’s complexity

Moreover, the details of the $31 billion tractor deal are shrouded in mystery. The Kenyan government has not disclosed the source of funds for this massive project, and the involvement of a Dubai-based entity known as Aftrade DMCC, owned by Zingman, adds another layer of complexity.

It is in the UAE that Aftrade DMCC is registered, which specializes in sales of Belarusian equipment to Africa and the co-owner of which is Zingman.

Zingman’s company which is registered in UAE, is in another “gray” zone where it is impossible to get intelligible information about someone’s business.

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Zingman is believed to have brokered the procurement of helicopters from Russia and the contract for the supply of Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircrafts.

On paper, Zingman’s name is associated with the fashionable restaurant Falcone in Minsk, Belarus and resides in Raubichi and owns several properties there. His partner, Elizaveta Denisevich, and son, Denis Zingman, are running the family business. Zingman’s private jet is reported to have frequently flown to and from the shelters of African countries, carrying on board government leaders and businessmen.

Last year, Aftrade DMCC supplied nine tractors to Kenya, and already in this there was information about the plans of the Kenyan government to purchase not only tractors in Belarus, but also forage harvesters and dump trucks. The volume of the proposed transaction, in which Aftrade DMCC as a dealer, pulls several hundred million dollars. The Kenyan media made a fuss about this, but it dissipated, and the plans remained.

Former Trade Minister Moses Kuria and Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi in Belarus, we have attended the prestigious 33rd International Specialized Exhibition BELAGRO –2023.

Former Trade Minister Moses Kuria and Agriculture CS Mithika Linturi in Belarus, we have attended the prestigious 33rd International Specialized Exhibition BELAGRO –2023.

Kenya’s Agriculture Minister Mithika Linturi who was involved in crafting the deal, recently survived an impeachment in a controversial vote marred with bribery claims, Linturi had been accused of playing role in supplying fake fertilizer to farmers in a scandal that ran into billions. Moses Kuria, the then Trade Minister who was at the helm of the negotiations was also transferred to a different ministry following endless scandals.

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Belarus’ exports to African countries, the first half of 2022, in million dollars

– Egypt – 69

– Zimbabwe – 27

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– Angola – 18

– Mali – 14

– Ghana – 8

– South Africa – 1.3

– Tunisia – 1

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– Ivory Coast – 0.9

– Morocco – 0.4

– Kenya – 0.3

– Malawi – 0.07.

In Africa, by the way, there are more than fifty states, and Belarus, as can be seen from the statistics, exported its goods to only 11. Apparently, only in those where Zingman, the honorary consul of Belarus in Zimbabwe and the hero of the news about Lukashenko’s business enturment, arms trade and gold mining in Africa, set foot.

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Kenya-Belarus Trade History

Zingman lit up at the meeting of the Belarusian Foreign Minister with the President of Kenya in Nairobi, taking the place of the Belarusian ambassador, judging by the seating position. At the same time, the volume of Belarusian exports to Kenya in the first half of 2022 reached only 300 thousand dollars. In previous years, exports sometimes reached 14 million, and sometimes they were zero, as in 2011.

It is possible that part of Belarusian exports to Kenya, as well as to other African countries, is hidden in exports to the UAE, ensuring its rapid growth.

Otherwise, it is difficult to explain the presence of Zingman at the meeting of the Foreign Minister of Belarus with the President of Kenya. The head of state promised tractors from Belarus a great future in Africa, which means good commissions for Aftrade DMCC. The Kenyan media wrote about $5 million, which already means zero price to Lukashenko’s loud statements that all intermediaries for Belarusian products should be removed.

Everyone may have been cleaned, but their own, as we can see, are not. Although the fight against intermediaries itself is as stupid as hinging the responsibility for export development to embassies and personally diplomats.

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It is curious that the Embassy of Belarus in Kenya opened only in 2018, moving from the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, where it closed, although our countries have been in diplomatic relations since 1993.

In addition to Kenya, the embassy is responsible for cooperation with Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and the African Union, which is clearly too over the background of two and a half diplomats working in the diplomatic mission. Not counting Zingman and Sheiman, who close the whole of Africa.

This move by the Ruto administration to embrace the shady characters raises questions about the government’s commitment to transparency and its willingness to engage with controversial figures for economic gain.


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