Regulators in Vermont are investigating links between Roman Abramovich, a Russian oligarch, and cannabis MSO Curaleaf.
Cannabis regulators in Vermont are investigating the links between Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich and multi-state cannabis operator Curaleaf, VT Digger reports. The inquiry follows a report by Vice that found Abramovich invested $130 million and provided $194 million in loans to US cannabis firms between 2016 and 2018, with Curaleaf as the main beneficiary.
In Vermont, Curaleaf owns Phytocare Vermont in Bennington and Vermont Patients Alliance in Montpelier.
According to the Vice report, which come from the leak of 30,000 files from Cyprus-based accounting company Meritservus, of which Abramovich was a customer, onto the non-profit Distributed Denial of Secrets website last month, Abramovich allegedly invested $225 million into Curaleaf, then known as Palliatech, between 2015 and 2017 via a British Virgin Islands-registered company called Cetus Investments. Abramovich was allegedly referred to by Cetus staff as “Mr. Blue.” Abramovich owns Chelsea Football Club which is nicknamed the Blues.
Vermont Cannabis Control Board chair James Pepper told VTDigger that he was unaware of the Vice report but following a VTDigger inquiry, he instructed board staff to contact Massachusetts and Connecticut to find out what they had learned. Pepper told VT Digger that Curaleaf had not mentioned Abramovich when it applied for a license to operate in Vermont’s adult-use cannabis market.
Applicants in Vermont are required to disclose individuals with an ownership interest of 10% of more and that being dishonest could lead to a revocation of a license, Pepper told VT Digger.
A Curaleaf spokesperson has previously told Barron’s that Abramovich “is no longer a creditor to or investor in Curaleaf.”
Representatives for Phytocare and Vermont Patients Alliance have not commented on the allegations, while Curaleaf spokesperson Stephanie Cunha told VT Digger that the company has “fully complied with all requirements regarding disclosure of our ownership and financing in the state of Vermont.”
According to the Curaleaf website, the company operates in Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Vermont. (Full Story)