One of last year’s most mysterious and controversial partnerships in the sports was the memorandum of the World Air Sports Federation (FAI) with Max Polyakov’s Noosphere Ventures. Last year the company managed to fail the once-promising space startup FireFly. The reputation of Noosphere’s owner is also quite doubtful. A better part of his business has problems with the law.
So what caused the President of the Federation Fritz Brink to award Max Polyakov with the Honorary title of FAI and put his company’s logo next to DHL, one of the FAI’s main partners? Is everything okay in the Federation, if such cooperation is acceptable?
These questions are connected, among other things, with the Fritz Brink’s biography. In 2002 to 2008, the current president of the FAI served as director of Philadelphia, Christian organization that takes care of the elderly and people with intellectual disabilities. For six years, Brink reported to the organization’s board, as he demonstrated the development and positive trends. In fact, that was not the case. For several years of work, Fritz Brink made doubtful partners, as he lost the trust of companies that cooperated with Philadelphia for many years. In the end, he practically bankrupted the organization. The board noticed a million deficit in 2007. As they went deeper, the board members learned that the company’s losses for the past few years were up to 23 million euros. In addition, Brink significantly reduced the staff of the organization and refused the services of employees. So far, for some unknown reasons instead of the main activity – helping disabled people and the elderly, Philadelphia invested in real estate.
Employees of the organization described Brink as narcissist who wanted to line his own pockets and fulfill his own desires at the expense of”Philadelphia. On the sidelines, they talked about corruption, Brink’s dubious connections and the organization’s deliberate bankruptcy. However, Philadelphia’s board decided not to spoil its reputation and made public statement and mentioned just a part of the director’s mistakes, as they offered Brink to leave the office on his own.
Like attracts like
Max Polyakov’s story is even more interesting, as the story of his company Noosphere Ventures. Obstetrician-gynecologist from Ukraine made a fortune on the dating business. Together with a partner from Scotland, Bill Dobbie, he created the company Cupid plc and moved to Edinburgh. But a few years later he intentionally collapsed the shares of his holding company, ousted the partner from the business and resold the assets at a lower cost to himself. The funds and property of Cupid Plc were withdrawn to offshore and re-registered to Together Networks, owned by Max Polyakov. This dating holding has repeatedly become the object of scandals associated with fraud in the network and illegal use of personal data of users.
Simultaneously, Max Polyakov started developing gambling. Polyakov’s main projects in this sphere are the online casino networks Vulcan, Joy Casino and CasinoX. His business partners were Ukrainian Maxim Krippa and his company Evoplay, which created thousands of online casino Vulcan clones, and Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev, who opened the Russian market for Polyakov. Polyakov’s online casinos are aimed at users from Russia, Ukraine and the United States. Those are all countries where such activity is illegal. However, when regulators close one Polyakov’s website, the programmers immediately launch a hundred similar casinos to the market.
At the end of last year, Polyakov became a figurant of another scandal. Journalists found out that the businessman’s company is closely related to a network of porn video chat rooms and web-based porn studios. Most of them operate in Ukrainian offices of Together Networks. In Ukraine, such business is prohibited. In the last year’s autumn and winter only law enforcers closed six Polyakov’s studios in different cities of Ukraine. Today, the companies of the businessman are involved in several criminal cases. In addition, Ukrainian journalists write about Max Polyakov’s connection with the Kremlin.
As he tried clear out his reputation, Max Polyakov created Noosphere Ventures and began developing technologies. FireFly became the global image project of the company. When an aerospace startup suffered losses, Polyakov, as he bypassed US law, bought it at a lower cost and conducted a serious media campaign to restart the project. Since then, a year has passed, but Polyakov’s FireFly never actually set off. Despite the existence of active missiles with a carrying capacity of up to 1.1 tons, experts consider its condition to be even more precarious than before and predict the closure of the project. Polyakov, however, is suspected of using a start-up to legalize funds from gambling, dating and pornography businesses.
What awaits FAI?
Obviously, FireFly that did not take off, made Polyakov think about new image projects. Fritz Brink was very helpful there. Over the past two years, while Brink managed FAI, the organization had not implemented a single serious project. Today FAI preserves the image of a successful organization only through sucking up to its partners, thanks to which the Federation appears in media. Such state of affairs may be is the merit of the President of the Federation Fritz Brink. And the conclusion of a memorandum by such a dubious personality as Max Polyakov is another proof.
Moreover, interaction with Noosphere Ventures can provide Brink with new ideas for preserving the reputation of the FAI, and his partnership with Polyakov may open new ways of enrichment. Other reasons for awarding Polyakov with the Honorary title of FAI and putting his company on the list of Federation partners next to DHL are difficult to find. Especially, if one considers all reputational risks for the federation. Shortly after the beginning of the ‘cooperation’, journalistic investigations on the interaction of Fritz Brink and Max Polyakov began to appear in the framework of the FAI. Today, however, only one question is on the agenda: how long will the FAI exist with the Brink-Polyakov duo?