Telman Ismailov was born in 1956 in Baku, he was the tenth of twelve children in the family of Mardan and Peri Ismailov. By nationality he is a highland Jew. Telman’s father worked in trade (a big Baku tsehovik), his son helped him when he turned fourteen and soon became a director of the sole commercial shop in Baku.
From 1973 to 1976 he studied at the Azerbaijan national economic institution. After serving in the Army he got transferred to the Plekhanov Institute of National Economy in Moscow; graduated in 1980. After that he worked as an economist in the Ministry of Trade, as well as an expert in "Vostokintorg”.
His first-born was a co-operative under the controversial title "Commercial charitable company", founded in 1987, Moscow. When building it Ismailov got closely acquainted with the then Chairman of the Moscow City Commission on cooperative activities, Yuri Luzhkov (secretary of the commission was - Elena Baturina)
In 1989 he created the first company of a group of companies "AST". This group of companies is owned equally by Telman Ismailov, his two sons and a nephew. The group now consists of 31 companies engaged in various kinds of businesses. These are: "AST-Gof (hotel business)," AST-Capstroy (construction), "AST-Shit" (security company), "AST-Prague (restaurant business), "AST-Taxi" (passenger transportation), "AST-Gold (jewelry), JSC" Trade House TSVUM "(management of "Post Exchange"). Annual turnover - about $ 7 billion. In fact the company AST owned Cherkizovsky market in Moscow. Telman Ismailov also owns a five-star Hotel “Mardan Palace” in Turkey.
In 2009, on the threshold of high season Telman Ismailov inaugurated the Hotel “Mardan Palace” in Turkish Antalya - the most expensive hotel in Europe. Its construction cost to businessman an estimated 1,5 - 1,7 billion dollars. At the opening came Richard Gere, Sharon Stone, Tom Jones, Monica Bellucci, Paris Hilton, Joseph Kobzon, Philip Kirkorov. Yuri Luzhkov and his wife cut the ribbon. The hotel was named after the father of Telman Ismailov - Mardan. He would have turned 100 years old when the hotel opened. The hotel has a copy of the Istanbul Grand Bazaar erected which sells fur coats, gold and silk. On the beaches of the hotel there was more than 9000 tons of fine sand from Egypt delivered. The most expensive hotel room costs 19 thousand dollars a day, a cup of coffee - 6 $.
At the opening of the hotel Telman Ismailov asked for Turkish citizenship.
Telman Ismailov plans on constructing another hotel in Turkey, the most expensive one in the world; and purchasing the Turkish football club “Antalyaspor”.
In 2007, he took the 76th place in the Russian rich men list for the version of journal Forbes. Then the magazine estimated his fortune at 620 million dollars. Nowadays the fortune of Telman Ismailov is estimated at a billion dollars. Ismailov is considered to be a close friend of Moscow Mayor Luzhkov.
Married; has two sons - Sarhan and Alekper.
Telman Ismailov’s hobby is watch collecting, which he has collected about 2 thousand.
The business of Telman Ismailov began to flourish in the late 80's - early 90's when he entered the circle of businessmen close to the Moscow authorities. In 1987 on a wave of cooperation Ismailov met the chairman of the Moscow City Commission on cooperative activities Yuri Luzhkov (secretary of the commission was Elena Baturina). Ever since then, Telman Ismailov has been having long-standing friendly relations with Luzhkov. Telman’s brother - Fazil Ismailov was acting prefect of one of the ten districts of Moscow. For the time being the Mayor called Ismailov "his brother", he had been implying that the businessman had a complete carte blanche in business.
The future business-empire company "AST" recorded in 1989 had been successfully engaged in sales from its first days. In the rented premises of “Mostorgodezhda" stores they sold Chinese and Turkish consumer goods (thanks to experience and communication received in the Soviet trade Ismailov engaged in export-import operations in the organization “Vostokintorg”). During the six months 52 shopping centers had been opened.
Turnovers soared. Ismailov opened two markets - in Luzhniki and Cherkizovo. According to independent estimates, ten years later the turnover of Cherkizovsky market comprised tens of billions of dollars annually.
Apart from the markets the AST Group has acquired several factories, hundreds of restaurants and cafes, taxi stations, several construction companies, various properties (total area of approximately 1, 5 million square meters), lands, oil wells, the famous restaurant "Prague" in Arbat. A pop-star Russian singer Avraam Russo started his career in this restaurant, Ismailov had noticed him in one of the Cyprus Bars. The businessman has invested about 2 million dollars in the singer (Joseph Prigogine and Larisa Rubalskaya engaged his promotion). The relationship between the singer and his patron started deteriorating along with the popularity grow of Russo. Feeling like a star, Abraham tried to get out of Ismailov’s control. But it was all over when Russo was shot in the center of Moscow, he fled in terror to America afterwards.
Source: "Expert" from 24.07. 2009
A 50-year anniversary of Ismailov celebrated chicly in Moscow, and the opening of the Hotel “Mardan Palace” in Turkey have become fatal in the fate of the "king of consumer goods”. He forfeited his assets, influence and support of the Moscow government overnight, as a result he was forced to flee abroad.
There are several versions explaining why Ismailov fell into disgrace. According to one of them, Mr. Putin was greatly displeased that the hotel in Antalya was opened pompously at the time when the whole country was experiencing an economic crisis. According to another one, Ismailov quarreled with Zarah Eli - one of his partners, as well as a friend of Ilham Rahimov who in his turn was a classmate and a judo partner of Vladimir Putin. The third version was that Ismailov had become a "tool" by which the federal government struggled with Moscow powers in the face of Yuri Luzhkov.
Whatever it was, the business empire of Ismailov began to fall in pieces. IPO of the parent company due to which 15% shares were to be sold Ismailov, never happened. One million square meters of housing construction in the suburban wedge of the national project "Affordable Housing" (ACT planned to build a residential area on the collective lands) never happened also. Department store "Voentorg" (in 2002-2003 Ismailov bought 60 percent of the department store from the Moscow government) became the property of Suleiman Kerimov. The owner of "AST Cargo" was changed (its business specializes in producing oil wells). After numerous visits of investigators to the restaurant "Prague" it has been closed mostly. Recently Ismailov put it on sale. The only company yet holding its position in the market is “AST International Environment”, an alcohol distributor.
Source: www.svobodanews.ru on 14/07/2009
In 2009, the main brainchild of Ismailov - Cherkizovsky market - was closed. Moscow authorities threatened to do so as early as 2006, when contraband had been discovered at the market. But this was done only when Putin demanded "rapping" for smuggling activities. The prime minister’s demand was executed for the month. Right after they detected 6 thousand containers of contraband goods at $ 2 billion. Investigation Committee found out that the smuggling went through the Baltic customs. By the way, back in 2005 29 smuggling cars were detained on the way from China to a warehouse near Moscow, one of the units of the FSB, and then went to Cherkizovsky market. According to the investigating committee, the customs "window" on the Russian border was organized by ex-Senator Igor Ivanov. Head of the Department FSKN Alexander Bulbov was involved in investigation, and in 2007 was arrested for alleged illegal wiretaps and bribes taking.
In addition, Cherkizovsky customs post was abolished by a special decree. It was located in the warehouse of temporary storage "AST" - goods from Turkey and China got clear customs in there (in early 2000, the State Customs Committee was headed by Elchin Safarov, a friend of Ismailov; two years later the next head of SCC Mikhail Vanin created a special loyal regime of customs clearance for goods of AST).
According to investigators, the proceeds from the goods smuggling was accumulated in the bank "Local credit", and only then got flung on accounts. A co-owner of the bank was Rafael Abramov, his son Ian Abramov - head of the company "Local credit-invest" is married to singer Alsu.
Source: Rosbalt on 08/06/2009, "Russian Forbs», October 2009
In 2009 in Switzerland sons of Ismailov appeared in a nasty story - Alekperov and Sarhan were detained on suspicion of involvement in illegal races at Geneva which led to an accident - they hit a 70-year-old pensioner. The alleged perpetrator of the accident was a 22-year-old son of a Russian senior civil servant. Ismailovs Jr. were questioned as witnesses, and then flew to their father to Istanbul.
Source: "Commersant" on 24/11/2009
In early 2010 Ismailov returned to Russia. The first thing made by the ex-owner of the Cherkizovsky market was visiting Grozny where he was hosted by Ramzan Kadyrov personally. Ismailov now intends to invest in the Chechen economy - at his expense a hotel complex will be built for 850 million rubles. Ismailov is already a general sponsor of FC “Terek-Grozny”. All of the above-mentioned made experts conclude that the businessman had been pardoned. The criminal cases because of which Cherkizovsky market was closed are likely to be closed. They also say that Ismailov is not going to abandon the old business of smuggling trade of consumer goods; and he will build the New Cherkizon. It is possible due to the fact that the key positions in the power structures have been occupied lately by people who used to contribute a lot to the Ismailov's company growth.
In early February 2010 Igor Aleinikov was appointed the head of the contraband department of Economic Security Service in FSB, St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region; once he supervised supplies of goods on their way through the Baltic customs on behalf of the FSB. At least a third of contraband for Cherkizovsky market had passed before his eyes then. By the way, as soon as Ismailov fell into disgrace, Aleinikov also laid low. Now it is a different matter. The situation has turned to quite opposite. Those who investigated "Cherkizovsky case" are now leaving the structures of the FSB - for example, General Sergei Zakhartsev was dismissed from the post of chief of the Supervisory Control of the FSB in Russia. It is said that Colonel Aleinikov was privy to his dismissal, he gathered compromising material against the general.
Source: «The Moscow Post» from 24.02.2010; magazine Ogonyok "№ 7 (5117) on 22/02/2010