Regulator imposes “extremely serious” restrictions on London fintech of Russian-American financier with links to Trump and DeSantis

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LONDON—Electronic payments company Dek-Co (aka Paydek) – whose owner is linked to Donald Trump’s Truth Social website as well as Paxum, another payments company catering to the online porn industry — has come under severe regulatory restrictions in September 2023, banning it from continuing to provide service to one existing client and from taking on new clients without explicit approval.

The owner of Dek-Co, Anton Postolnikov, has been connected to a controversial financing of Donald Trump’s media company, Truth Social. The move by the British regulator comes after several exclusive articles by Reporter and its partners in international media covered the story of Postolnikov and his businesses.

Postolnikov, who lives in Florida and is a US citizen born in Russia, also donated to Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida, as first reported on this website. Postolnikov is related to a prominent underling from St Petersburg of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and former deputy justice minister in the Kremlin, Alexander Smirnov.

Postolnikov did not reply to requests for comment sent over email.

The Financial Conduct Authority, which imposed the restrictions on Dek-Co, declined to offer details about its reasons. “We do not comment on individual firms,” a spokesman told Reporter.

A so-called “voluntary undertaking” of the type that Dek-Co has been under since September 18 is a written commitment a regulated firm makes regarding its activity, usually after being approached by the watchdog.

In the case of Dek-Co, these restrictions are as follows, according to the FCA register page: “1.Refrain from registering, on-boarding or providing payment services (either directly or via outsourced partners) to any new customers without the prior written consent of the FCA.”

“2. Refrain from registering, on-boarding or providing payment services (either directly or via outsourced partners) for a specific customer.”

“3. Provide the FCA with written confirmation that it is in compliance with the terms of this Undertaking by the last working day of each month until such time as it is notified in writing by the FCA that it may cease to do so.”

The measures taken by the FCA are at the stricter end of the spectrum of possible regulatory actions, according to an expert. Ian Tyler, senior advisor at Financial Markets Consulting & Resourcing Ltd, a London-based practice, told Reporter that “for the firm’s management and board this is an extremely serious matter.”

Tyler, who has experience of more than 30 years in British finance and banking, added: “That restriction is a sign that the FCA is extremely unhappy with some aspect of their existing compliance process,” and that “there is at least one customer that they have onboarded that they shouldn’t have.”

“Depending on the precise reasons for this regulatory action there may still be a risk of a consequential regulatory fine and if the FCA’s sought-for risk remediation action isn’t completed by the firm in a timely and accurate manner the next step of escalation might well be the removal of their payment services license,” said Tyler.

Dek-Co’s latest accounts, published in August, show that it made profit after tax in the 2022-2023 fiscal year of £2.5 million with a turnover of £14.8 million in the same period, indicating a profit margin of around 17 percent. The report said revenues were lower than in the past “due to the loss of Russian market”.

“This is due to war in Ukraine, banking partners for Ukraine and UAH currency along with Russia and Rubble [sic] currency stopped all transactions to both countries, which resulted in losing both payment rails and processing of transactions to Ukraine and Russia until the war is over and banks open these rails again,” the report added.

The company also has subsidiaries in Romania and Colombia, according to the report.

It declares a balance of £6.7 million “due to Paxum Bank,” a lender based in Dominica which also belongs to Postolnikov.

It was through Paxum Bank that Postolnikov emerged as a financier of Trump’s Truth Social in a deal that has since attracted media and regulatory attention. The Washington Post picked up on aspects of Paxum’s history first revealed on this website, and published an investigation of the deal in partnership with Reporter. Trump’s representatives have denied any wrongdoing. Paxum and Postolnikov also told a local Dominica publication that they deny any wrongdoing.

Paxum was also the victim of a fraud in Romania where former insiders allegedly stole some $16 million from its accounts with OTP Bank, a regional banking group based in Hungary, a story also first reported in English on this website. The trial is ongoing in Bucharest.

Thanks to B.M. who helped edit this article.

This post was updated on November 7, 2023, to include a link to a previous statement given by Paxum to a website in Dominica and to include a thank you note to our editor.