By Shinovene Immanuel | 26 October 2018
The government and Sardarov refused to explain the 2013 farm deals, but documents reviewed by The Namibian show how the Russian quenched his thirst for Namibian land.
Namibian lawyer Henner Diekmann appears to be one of the key people in the sale of farms to the Russian billionaire.
The documents show that Diekmann approached the Deeds Office in 2009 to combine three farms into one. The three farms ‚Äì Otjimukona 120, Stolzenfield 116 and Stolzenfield 283, all in the Dordabis area south-east of Windhoek ‚Äì were owned by a company called Otjimukona (Pty) Ltd.
Diekmann represented the company as a director. The combination resulted in one farm now known as Farm Otjimukona 532, measuring 11 000 hectares.
The lawyer and his partners made a killing three years later when Sardarov showed up, looking for Namibian land.
Diekmann confirmed to The Namibian yesterday that he sold Otjimukona (Pty) Ltd shares to Sardarov.
‚ÄúI sold the shares of Otjimukona (Pty) Ltd to Comsar Properties SA during December 2012, the proceeds of which I reinvested in the Namibian agricultural sector,‚Äù he said.
Diekmann did not reveal how much he was paid for the company, but sources estimate that Diekmann and his partners were paid around N$120 million for selling the 11 000-hectare farm to Sardarov.
Diekmann claims that he created 464 jobs with the money he received for the farm.
It appears Sardarov started buying more farms using Otjimukona (Pty) Ltd, but it is unclear whether he placed a director in Otjimukona (Pty) Ltd to represent him.
Information from the Business and Intellectual Property Authority (Bipa) shows that the directors of Otjimukona (Pty) Ltd are Leslie Stern and Hendrik Barnard. Both are indicated as Namibian citizens.
The Russian was eyeing another piece of land near his farm at Dordabis after taking charge of Otjimukona (Pty) Ltd.
Documents show that Sardarovs Otjimukona (Pty) Ltd paid N$64 million to businessman Robert Wirtz for a portion [5 700 hectares] of his farm Hillside near Dordabis.
The transaction was finalised in June 2013, when the land was sold by Witzs TLP Investments Seventy Nine, the deeds document shows.
People familiar with this transaction said the Russian overpaid for the farms, which affected the prices of nearby farms in the area.
FROM MOSCOW, WITH MONEY
The Russian has a history of buying farms through companies, effectively hiding ownership changes due to the lack of information on shareholders.
Sardarov bought Farm Coas 501, on which his Marula Game Ranch is. It is unclear how much he paid for this farm because he appears to have bought the company that owned the farm.
Deeds documents show that the farm occupied by Marula Game Ranch belongs to Namib Roses CC, which was owned by Spanish national Jose Navarro and Francois Durand.
Marula Game Ranch, according to government documents, changed directors in 2012 and 2017.
According to company filings submitted at the trade ministry, Swedish national Flavien de Muralt resigned as director of Marula Game Ranch on 13 November 2012. He was the manager of the ranch.
A Russian named Igor Evgenievich Rybakov was named the new director on that date. His position is indicated as ‚Äúadministrative director‚Äù, while his residential address is given as Moscow.
Rybakov was still the director and administrative director of Marula Game Ranch in the company filings made to the trade ministry. The third director was Namibian Johannes Kotze.
THE TRAIL SO FAR
The Namibian has calculated that Sardarov occupies more than 10 farms near Dordabis through Otjimukona (Pty) Ltd and his Comsar Properties SA.
Sources estimate that he spent over N$200 million from 2012 to 2018 buying up land. This includes the four farms measuring 28¬†000 hectares he bought in 2012 and 2013.
Sources familiar with Sardarovs businesses said the Russian was also renting farm Tsatsachas, which is owned by an Austrian national.
The Russian also paid N$43 million for four other farms near Dordabis from two farmers in September this year.
The farms are Farm Rainhof 123, Farm Kameelboom 119, a portion of Smaldeel 123 and Farm Wolffsgrund.
Rainhof Farming is owned by Farm Rainhof Property Limited, whose directors are Manfred Josef Fritsch and Peter Gert van der Merwe.
Sardarov paid Wolffs¬≠grund Farm CC N$14 million to buy Farm Wolffsgrund, which was owned by Kurt Duvel and Katrina Duvel. The Russian paid that amount, but the land was transferred to the government. Sardarov will lease it from 2018 to 2117.
In short here is how we concluded that the Russian occupies ten farms.
Sardarov bought five farms (including the farm that occupies the Marula game ranch, three under Otjimukona Pty Ltd and one portion of Hillside farm).
The other five include the farm he is renting from from an Australian national while the four are the farms he is leasing from the government for 99 years.
Sardarovs Namibian lawyer, Sisa Namandje, promised to answer questions about his clients activities. He did not respond by yesterday, but insisted last week that the figure of N$280 million spent on the farms occupied by the Russian was questionable.
‚ÄúI was not involved in the farms purchased by my client (Sardarov), but I wonder whether the alleged amount of N$280 million is correct. It appears exaggerated,‚Äù Namandje said.
*This article was produced by The Namibians investigative unit. Send us story tips via your secure email to [email protected]