Russian real estate developers Roman Temkin and Dmitry Romantsoff, both international fugitives are involved in multiple condo projects in South Florida. As Russian news media reports, Verzasca Group is secretly owned by Roman Temkin. Le Jardin Residences boutique condo project in Bay Harbor Islands and Aurora in Sunny Isles Beach is among their projects with the majority of units presold.
Roman Temkin appeared numerous times in major Russian media when he fled to the United States to avoid arrest. He became a defendant in a criminal case on the illegal tax return of 1.8 billion rubles ($25 million). On April 30, 2014, the Basmanny Court of Moscow arrested him in absentia
Roman Temkin is controlling Polis Group LLC, a real estate development company founded in 2010, that became one of the largest developers in St. Petersburg, Russia. According to business directories, the company is 80% owned by Olga Petryashova, and until 2014, 48% belonged to Elena Temkina. Both women are sisters of Roman Temkin.
At the beginning of 2015, the company Verzasca Group was registered in the United States, which invested $10.5 million in the construction of two residential buildings in Miami – Le Jardin Residences and Aurora.
It is indicated on the Verzasca Group’s website that it develops projects in St. Petersburg – Austrian Quarter, House on Shkolnaya and My City. They are also listed on the Polis Group LLC website as projects of the company. The managing partner of the Verzasca Group is Timur (Tim) Lobanov, who has the same position in Polis Group LLC and like Roman Temkin, spent his youth in Severodvinsk. Elena Temkina is among his Facebook friends. The top manager of the company is Russian hockey player Darius Kasparaitis, which is used as the face of the company to hide real owners.
In March 2019 Polis Group LLC filed for bankruptcy in Russia. At the moment company owes 31 thousand apartments to their buyers and owes 3.4 billion rubles ($46 million) to their creditors.
According to South Florida Business Journal, Verzasca Group’s Le Jardin Residences project filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in a U.S. Bankruptcy Court in August 2019. The scheme is pretty similar to what Roman Temkin was doing in Russia, defrauding investors in the condo development project. The investment opportunity also included EB 5 visa – offering visas to investors if they invest $500k each, which turned out to be a scam and some investors sued. The same article disclosed that one of the Le Jardin Residences managers was Dmitry Romantsoff, another Russian fraudster that is wanted by Interpol.
Dmitry Romantsoff’s company SAVVA was involved in a major real estate fraud scheme in Russia. SAVVA group of companies stole more than 8 billion rubles ($107 million) from the government funds according to the Ministry of Economic Development. Tax debts were close to 300 million rubles ($4 million). Projects involved in this massive fraud were 5-star Suvar Hotel construction and renovation of an art museum.
Mid-level managers were convicted, but vice-president of SAVVA Dmitry Romantsoff fled to the US in 2015 and is on the international wanted list today.
Dmitry Romantsoff was listed on Verzasca Group website as a manager but later his name was removed.
Peter Beaumont is a senior reporter on the Guardian’s Global Development desk. He has reported extensively from conflict zones including Africa, the Balkans and the Middle East and is the author of The Secret Life of War: Journeys Through Modern Conflict. Email: email@example.com