Chechen Dictator Could Use Melbourne Cup For Money Laundering
The Melbourne Cup could become part of an international money laundering scheme if Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadirov’s horse Mourilyan wins the race, an expert in Russian politics says.
Kadirov has been described as the new Stalin and compared to Saddam Hussein and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il because of the human rights abuses and murders he has allegedly perpetrated in Chechnya.
As the richest man in the former Soviet state, he has 99.9 per cent of the vote, a $1 million watch, a gold-plated gun and a stable of horses based in Dubai.
South African trainer Herman Brown has brought Mourilyan out for Tuesday’s Cup and if the highly fancied stayer gets up, the $3.3 million prize money and the gold cup will be headed for Grozny, Chechnya’s capital.
“It’s a moral dilemma. If Kim Jong-il applies to have a horse run next time, what should we do? Perhaps there should be stricter criteria put forward for applicants.” said Australian National University academic Leonid Petrov.
“Kadirov is implicated in many nasty things in Chechnya, in Russia and outside the borders of Russia. Personal enemies of Kadirov die like flies in Russia and also in Dubai.” he said.
Russian security forces last week foiled an assassination attempt on Kadirov, who thrives on the financial and political backing of the Kremlin.
“Lots of money has been pumped into Chechnya to prop up the regime of Kadirov. How much of this money has been used on his horses, we don’t know but if the horse wins, the money will be the personal property of Ramzan Kadirov. In that case it will become quite questionable whether the Melbourne Cup is participating in an international money laundering scheme” Dr Petrov said.
Herman Brown, South African trainer of Kadirov’s horse, said he is aware of the controversy surrounding Kadirov, whom he has only met once and communicates with through a government interpreter.
“I’m obviously aware of what people talk about. I’m not really sure I’m the man to really talk about it. I’m just concentrating on the race. I don’t know this (allegations against Kadirov) for a fact. Maybe after the Cup, I’ll investigate it.” he said.
British racing authorities are investigating Kadirov and will rule in February whether to ban his horses from competing in the country.
If a British ban is enforced, he is likely to be shunned globally.
“Clearly we have to abide by the laws of whatever country we race in,” Brown said.
Brown said it was his idea to bring Mourilyan – which races in the red, white and green colours of the Chechen flag – to the Melbourne Cup and he has very little direct contact with Kadirov who will watch the race in Grozny.
“He’s easy to deal with. I’ve met him once in Dubai last December and he was very pleasant to me. As an owner and a business relationship, the guy’s great. He buys expensive horses, he pays the bills really well and he doesn’t interfere with the training. Ask any trainer and they’re the criteria you want from an owner,” Brown said.
AAP (Australian Associated Press) – 02.11.2009
Source: Brisbane Times