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Roberto Monda

Roberto Fabio Monda Cardenas ‘Meduza’ tracks down the Spaniard whose mysterious donation led Russian officials to designate the Anti-Corruption Foundation as a ‘foreign agent’

Source: Meduza
Roberto Monda
Roberto Monda
Club Boxeo Ramos Savin / YouTube

On October 9, Russia’s Justice Ministry announced that it was adding Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) to its list of “foreign agents.” Officials based the designation on donations sent to the organization from abroad: one from “ LLC” in the United States, and another from a Spanish citizen named Roberto Fabio Monda Cardenas. 

The owner of LLC, a Russian citizen named Mikhail Maslikhov, confirmed to Open Media that he personally transferred $50 to FBK out of desperation with corruption in his homeland. Maslikhov also says he started receiving threatening letters after the Justice Ministry identified him as one of Navalny’s foreign funders, and false reports about his wife’s supposedly criminal past began circulating. “I think this was staged and prepared in advance,” he told Open Media, arguing that it would have been otherwise impossible to know so much so quickly about whoever transferred the money to FBK.

Meduza has tracked down the Anti-Corruption Foundation’s second “foreign donor.” According to documents published by FBK founder Alexey Navalny, Roberto Fabio Monda Cardenas made two transfers to the organization through CaixaBank in Spain: one for 29,242.44 rubles (about $455) on September 6 and another for 109,262.97 rubles (more than $1,700) on September 17. 

Spain’s corporate registry lists two companies registered to this individual: “Moto Auto Monda SL,” a car and motorcycle dealer, and the construction firm “Fabrilad Contratas SL.” The former’s address, as recorded in FBK’s bank records, is 9 Francisco Suarez St. in Madrid. A Deutsche Welle correspondent visited this location, and found no traces of Cardenas’s business, and security guards working at a residential complex in the area said they’d never heard of Moto Auto Monda SL or its owner. Spokespeople for CaixaBank told Meduza that they’d heard about the money transfers that were identified by Russia’s Justice Ministry and reported in the media, but they refused to confirm or deny the information, saying such disclosures would violate European banking regulations.

The name “Roberto Fabio Monda Cardenas” also appears in Spain’s registry of persons licensed in May 2016 to control access to public entertainment events (in other words, he worked as a bouncer). Through these records, Meduza learned Cardenas’s national identity number and found that it matches the personal data registered for both the director of the two aforementioned companies and the Spaniard who donated money to FBK. 

“Roberto Monda,” who only uses his full name on official documents, is also a professional martial artist, and Meduza found him pictured on an event flyer for a boxing, kickboxing, and Muay Thai tournament in December 2015. In this contest, Monda represented the “Ramos Savin” Madrid boxing club. On YouTube, there’s footage of some of Monda’s other bouts. He also cameoed as a judge at a boxing match in the 2006 Spanish film “La Distancia.”

A flyer for a Madrid kickboxing competition that included Roberto Monda

Through a coach at the boxing club in Madrid that he represented in the 2015 tournament, Meduza was able to contact Monda, who confirmed that he twice donated to the Anti-Corruption Foundation. He struggled, however, to explain why he sent money to the Russian organization, and couldn’t even pronounce the foundation’s name. Roberto Monda does not speak Russian, has never set foot in Russia, and by his own admission knows no one from Russia, except for a few women who now live in Spain. He says he read about FBK in the spring (he could not say where), and “just decided to help the foundation with some money.”

Monda says he sent the money personally through a CaixaBank branch in Madrid. Asked why he made two transfers that were two weeks apart, he says he wanted to be sure the money actually went through. When Meduza asked how the transfer receipt for his second donation ended up in the hands of the Russian television station REN-TV, Monda paused for a long time and then suggested that his phone had been hacked, before stating that he’s deeply concerned about his personal data appearing in the Russian media.

It’s unclear how Monda could have confirmed that his September 6 transfer actually reached FBK, given that the organization’s bank accounts were frozen by court order on August 19, in connection with an ongoing money-laundering investigation. FBK director Ivan Zhdanov told Meduza that the foundation also removed the routing instructions for these accounts from its website back in August. When Meduza asked Monda how, without speaking Russian, he found FBK’s account information (which only appeared on its Russian-language website), he broke off all communication.

Story by Alexey Kovalev

Translation by Kevin Rothrock

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