Head of Consolidated Shipbuilding Company gets ready to absorb budget billions 

Head of Consolidated Shipbuilding Company gets ready to absorb budget billions
Aleksey Rakhmanov looks to the future with optimism, while his friends withdraw money to offshores Photo: The CrimeRussia

While the government is desperately looking for money to execute the president’s May decrees, the head of Obyedinennaya Sudostroitelnaya Korporatsiya ('Consolidated Shipbuilding Corporation', hereinafter – OSK), Aleksey Rakhmanov, has already found it. By his own admission, the OSK is about to receive an order for the construction of dry cargo ships with a total value of 45 billion rubles ($721.5 million). Rakhmanov did not specify where the funding comes from.

President of OSK Aleksey Rakhmanov is known, among other things, for inexhaustible optimism. Three years ago, he assured that the company did not even notice the Western sanctions against OSK. For three years, Rakhmanov's views on this have changed significantly; however, his optimism has remained the same. And most recently, the head of the corporation, without hiding enthusiasm, said that OSK is about to receive a contract for the construction of 50 dry cargo vessels of the ‘river-sea’ class. Rakhmanov promises to fulfill the order within two years. 

All hands on dockyard

Rakhmanov spat out this boast during a roundtable discussion on the development of shipbuilding and navigation on the Eurasian continent. The event was attended by leading industry experts. We do not undertake to evaluate the depth of their knowledge in shipbuilding but they know their colleague Aleksey Rakhmanov perfectly. And his words about the multibillion-dollar order were apprehended with a fair amount of humor. Deputy Minister of Transport Viktor Olersky did not mince his words directly declaring that the head of OSK deceives the audience. And the last four years of OSK under Rakhmanov’s leadership only confirms Olersky’s words. 

Deputy Minister of Transport Viktor Olersky

Deputy Minister of Transport Viktor Olersky

The rest of the market experts were more cautious in their assessments and began to talk about the possible customer. Some analysts mentioned the names of such Rostov companies as Yug Rusi, Aston and TD Rif, but everything fell into place when Obyedinennaya Zernovaya Kompaniya (‘Consolidated Cereal Company’) was named as a possible customer (50% plus one share owned by the Federal Property Agency), as well as the perspective of OSK to get budget money for a program of preferential leasing. The essence of state leasing is simple: OSK provides customers with a discount on construction of ships, and the treasury reimburses the corporation for these losses. On this basis, Aleksey Rakhmanov created an even simpler scheme for receiving money from the budget.

In 2017, he showed the Ministry of Industry a vivid presentation in which he told how by 2030 OSK would have built hundreds of sea and river vessels, earning hundreds of billions of rubles. The only thing that was lacking to implement such Napoleonic plans was the money. And the Ministry of Industry and Trade allocated Rakhmanov additional 2.5 billion rubles ($40 million). We use the word ‘additional’ because some time earlier the corporation had already managed to get 1 billion rubles ($16 million) for exactly the same purposes. However, the presentation of OSK flaunts with cruise liners, dry cargo ships and oil tankers are, de facto, there is nothing to boast about. 

Financials of OSK look increasingly depressing every year. 

The construction of the icebreaker Viktor Chernomyrdin, which was supposed to hit the water as early as 2015, turned into a murky saga with changing terms, contractors and costs of work. During that time, the icebreaker has risen in price by 3 billion rubles ($48 million) and will be commissioned in the next year at best. Icebreaker Arktika suffered the same fate: instead of 2017, it will sail to the Arctic ice in 2019. And this term is not supported by anything, except Rahmanov's optimism. 

Avrora couldn’t even dream about it

Where are the allocated billions go after all? The answer is – in safe hands of relatives and friends of Aleksey Rakhmanov. In this case, the head of OSK really has something to be proud of – he did not forget anyone. A blatant story during Rakhmanov's work at OSK was the one related to reconstruction of Aurora. To maintain the legendary cruiser in its proper shape, Kronshtadsky Morskoy Zavod (‘Kronstadt Marine Plant’), which is part of OSK, announced a tender for paving the South Wall pier worth 16.8 billion rubles ($270,000).   

Cruiser Aurora

Cruiser Aurora during reconstruction

Four companies decided to compete for the right to participate in the reconstruction of the berth. The winner was Dorozhno-stroitelnaya Kompaniya Ramirend ('Road Construction Company Ramirend'). And then, the illusion of a contest crumbled, because the name of the file with terms of reference already had the name of winner company. This file can still be found in the documents for purchase. Another bidder, the company called Rubin, questioned the visionary gift of the tender organizers and appealed to the Antimonopoly Service. The latter also did not believe in the mentioned supernatural abilities but the check was demonstrably sloppy. Its results remained buried in the document circulation of the service.

Nevertheless, the story got a zesty turn. It turned out that the owner of Ramirend, Anton Goldsher, in the past bore the surname Leontyev and worked as CEO of Metallokonstruktsiya LLC. The permanent owner of company up to the day of its liquidation was Dmitry Rakhmanov. And although there are no direct confirmations of the fact that entrepreneur Dmitry Rakhmanov and head of OSK Aleksey Rakhmanov are relatives, numerous media persistently call them brothers. The story with Ramirend confirms their kinship not worse than a DNA test would: can there be accidents where almost 17 million rubles are at stake? 

Aleksey Rakhmanov

President of the Consolidated Shipbuilding Corporation Aleksey Rakhmanov

The head of OSK has fixed up almost all friends and classmates to high posts in shipbuilding. However, Rakhmanov managed to build strong student friendship not at home in Nizhny Novgorod, but at the University of Chicago, where he received an MBA in 2003. Together with him in Chicago, Ilya Kokarev and Dmitry Paltsev studied. After receiving MBA, the classmates’ paths separated for a short time: Rakhmanov got involved in the development of business Severstal Avto, and Kokarev and Paltsev set off for the shipbuilding business. A few years later, Aleksey Rakhmanov moved to public administration, immediately becoming Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, and classmates decided to use all the knowledge they gained in Chicago. 

Intersection of interests

By that time, Kokarev and Fingers owned a group of companies called Kaspiyskaya Energiya (‘Caspian Energy’), which implements complex projects in the field of development of offshore deposits. In 2011, OSK headed by Roman Trotsenko decides to acquire a share in Caspian Energy, which, under the strict guidance of the graduates of the Chicago business school, has sunk in debt. The deal on the sale of assets assumed that 40% of the group will go to OSK, another 40% will be acquired by a certain private investor, and the rest will remain with Paltsev and Kokarev. 

Ilya Kokarev

Ilya Kokarev

OSK became a co-owner of Caspian Energy but Aleksey Rakhmanov's classmates have retained control over the engineering assets of the group (in fact, the only thing that had value in it). At the same time, since 2011 (the time of sale of Caspian Energy) up to 2014, Kokarev has had operational control over the group. Not only he retained a small share in the business but also unexpectedly became a member of the Board of Directors of Rosshelf. It was Rosshelf (i.e. Kokarev) represented the interests of OSK in the management of Caspian Energy.

Within three years, Rakhmanov's friends managed to do a lot: take three engineering companies of Rosshelf to an offshore jurisdiction (the damage is estimated at more than 575 million rubles, or $9.22 million USD), as well as, to transfer the loan of more than 415 million rubles ($6.65 million) given by Investtorgbank to the subsidiary structure of Caspian Energy and, finally, to siphon off 14.1 billion rubles ($226 million), received for the creating an ice-resistant platform (LSP-1) ordered by Lukoil. For the sake of fairness, it is to be noted that most of the described manipulations were carried out under the former OSK president, Roman Trotsenko, who was named the protege of Igor Sechin, the head of Rosneft. The very idea of buying assets of Caspian Energy by OSK, according to media reports, also belonged to Sechin. However, the monitoring of the activities of OSK under the Ministry of Industry and Trade was based on Rakhmanov. But how can you not trust a classmate, whom you fixed up to Rosshelf? Also, with Sechin, Rakhmanov prefers not to quarrel. 

Construction of icebreaker Viktor Chernomyrdin

Construction of icebreaker Viktor Chernomyrdin

Do not forget that in the distant 2008 president introduced Sechin as the new head of OSK, but as a result, this post was taken by his advisor Roman Trotsenko. And the carousel of leaders replacing each other every year, which followed after Trotsenko’s departure, was explained by the fact that the appointees did not suit the head of Rosneft. Whether or not, but Rakhmanov took possible risks into account, which you won’t be taught at any business school in the US. The Consolidated Shipbuilding Corporation is ingratiatingly ceding Rosneft the juiciest tenders. And the main Russian oilman, Sechin, stubbornly does not leave shipbuilding field without attention. Probably, this is the secret of the longevity of Aleksey Rakhmanov as head of OSK.

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