Mar 28 2011

United Coal, The Quiet Company

Posted by Steve Ross in State Politics

via Tennessee Tourism

There’s a lot of things about East Tennessee that I don’t know, but I’m learning. Living on the exact opposite end of the state presents some challenges to that learning, but I’ve made a couple of trips over there, and have a couple more planned in the relatively near future.

In researching last night’s post I came across a lot of information that I honestly knew nothing about. For instance, I knew there were some strip mining sites in Tennessee, but I didn’t know there were only four active ones. That’s a lot better than I initially thought. Hopefully it will stay that way.

Another thing I didn’t know is that one of the largest European conglomerates in the world has its US headquarters in Bristol, TN. In fact, they just moved there about 18 months ago from the VA side of the state line. Now United Coal doesn’t sound European at all, but it’s owned by a company called Metinvest Group a Ukrainian based holding company that’s into all kinds of stuff worldwide.

In fact, the guy who really owns Metinvest, Renat Akhmetov, is reportedly the wealthiest guy in the Ukraine. Not too shabby for someone that didn’t get started until after the Soviet Union fell in 1991.

At the rate this guy is going he may surpass Bill Gates and Warren Buffett pretty soon. Think about it, 20 years, $31b, that’s $1.5b/year. Straight out of a former Communist country. Man, I wonder what it takes to get something started like that.

According to the report [“Overview of the Most Dangerous Organized Crime Structures in Ukraine"] Renat Akhmetov, born in 1966 in Donetsk, is listed as the leader of the “Renat’s” organized crime group. According to the document, “the group dealt with money laundering, financial fraud, and controlled a large number of both real and fictitious companies.” The group is listed as one whose activities “have been stopped,” and says further that their criminal natures “have not been confirmed.” (Source)

Wow, I hope they’re not all up in things like that here.

Since 2009, people with an interest in coal contributed more than $300,000 to people running for office in Tennessee. We found that more than $195,000 went to the powerful leader of the state senate, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey or his political action committee. (Source)

Oh wow. Then there’s this…

Point A: United Coal Headquarters

Point B: Ron Ramsey Auctions

Distance: 1.4 mi

Point C: Ron Ramsey Home

Distance between B and C: .9 mi


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Probably just a coincidence…right?