Collapse of Yenisei Bank: ‘Laundromat’ of Russian Railways contractors closed?
According to the Central Bank of Russia, the ‘hole’ in the budget of Yenisei Joint Stock Commercial Bank was 5 billion rubles ($88.9 million). When asked where is the money, the CrimeRussia source gave a truly surprising answer. So, how could the Krasnoyarsk-based bank balance on the verge of crash for almost 10 years, where are its funds, and who is behind their disappearance? See details in an exclusive CrimeRussia material.
On February 9, 2017, another Russian bank has lost its license. Yenisei Joint Stock Commercial Bank has ceased its operations “due to highly risky lending policy, including investments of monetary funds into subprime-related assets”. In other words, the Bank of Russia believes that Yenisei was lending money to organizations likely unable to repay the loans.
The interim administration imposed by the Bank of Russia has identified “considerable unreliability of reports and threats to the interests of bank creditors and clients”. The audit has found that the official value of the bank’s assets – 7.51 billion rubles ($133.6 million) – was overrated manifold: their real cost was some 1.06 billion ($18.8 million). In addition, a hole of 4.8 billion rubles ($85.4 million) has been identified in the budget of the credit institution. Based on the past experience, the existence of such a ‘ hole’ should ultimately lead to institution of a criminal case due to the fact of embezzlement on an especially large scale.
At the first glance, the situation seems clear and trivial: another bank has been robbed through a network of dummy companies, while the clients’ funds ‘flowed away’ abroad to ‘shady bankers’. However, the story of Yenisei is much more complicated.
Why Russian Railways?
While reviewing the accounting documentation of Yenisei, we have found out that the credit institution is affiliated in various ways with major contractors of Russian Railways whose shareholders are well-known in the ‘shady economy’: Boris Usherovich, Vitaly Markelov, Aleksei Krapivin, and Yuri Obodovsky.
The CrimeRussia had repeatedly addressed operations of this group of businessmen, their corruption ties, and schemes created to siphon off funds abroad. The group was formed by Andrei Krapivin, a close friend of and freelance aide to Vladimir Yakunin, ex-President of Russian Railways. Krapivin managed to push through his friends Boris Usherovich and Vitaly Markelov having close ties with ‘Solntsevskaya’ organized criminal group to superior positions in key structural subdivisions of Russian Railways and its partner companies. Yuri Obodovsky, a railroad industry professional, has joined this group. Under the guidance of Krapivin and his partners, sophisticated schemes had been created to siphon off state monopoly funds abroad. The ‘Moldavian’ scheme used to siphon off 46 billion rubles ($818.1 million) is also a ‘creation’ of Krapivin, Usherovich, Markelov, and Obodovsky. After the death of Andrei Krapivin in 2015, his son Aleksei has joined this ‘club’ as a full member, while Usherovich and Markelov became its leaders.
Based on the financial reports, in the past, Usherovich, Markelov, Krapivin, and Obodovsky had owned shares in the bank directly, but in the recent years, its ownership structure has become considerably more complicated. The
chart available at the Bank of Russia web site does not mention the names of Usherovich and his partners. Perhaps, the purpose of the changes in the ownership structure was to remove Krapivin junior, Usherovich, Markelov, and Obodovsky from the list of direct beneficiaries of Yenisei prior to the revocation of its license? However, the list of the bank founding members shows that the contractors of Russian Railways had much influence in Yenisei up until the license revocation. For instance, Konversbank controlled by Andrei Krapivin at that time used to own a major share in Yenisei.
The list of the bank founding members indicates that four companies out of its seven official founders have ties with major Russian Railways contractors.
The ‘group of Usherovich–Markelov’ had controlled Yenisei via the following private companies:
Prim’ero Group Limited Liability Company: its former owner Arsen Rubenovich Meletyan used to be the General Director of Transstroylizing Limited Liability Company founded by Krapivin. Another former company owner, Ekaterina Vladimirovna Devyatkina, used to work in Alaksa Limited Liability Company previously owned by Aleksei Krapivin and currently belonging to his partner Yuri Obodovsky.
Diviti-Invest Limited Liability Company: Aleksei Krapivin is its former owner and General Director.
Lantana-Invest Limited Liability Company: its former General Director Ivan Mikhailovich Osipov is also the former General Director and owner of Ortiga 2.0 Limited Liability Company that was founded by Krapivin and his partners Valery Markelov and Boris Usherovich. In addition, Ivan Osipov is the Chairman of Board in Belye Rosy 1 Cottage Consumer Cooperative whose co-owner was Aleksei Krapivin.
Maksimum-Invest Limited Liability Company: Aleksei Nikolaevich Pugachev, its former General Director, was also the General Director of Silva Limited Liability Company belonging to Valery Markelov. Another former General Director, Maksim Evgenievich Gubanov, was also the General Director in above-mentioned Transstroylizing belonging to Krapivin.
Links between Yenisei Joint Stock Commercial Bank and Russian Railways contractors
A well-informed CrimeRussia source provided the story of Yenisei that had been passed from hand to hand like a ball. According to the source, the initial owner of the credit institution was Irina Antipina; currently she is a Deputy of the Krasnoyarsk City Council. In the period between the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009 (the specific date is unknown), Antipina sold the bank to billionaire Vladimir Antonov – while retaining the post of its Chairperson of Board. In the same period, Antonov has acquired Baikalinvestbank.
In March 2009, after an attempted assassination of his father, the banker had to flee Russia. Prior to leaving the country, Antonov junior has entrusted the banks belonging to him to his friend and partner Sergei Mendeleev. But Mendeleev has disposed the assets entrusted to him at his sole discretion and transferred those to businessmen Usherovich and Markelov as a debt repayment. This is how the contractors of Russian Railways have gained control over Yenisei and Baikalinvestbank.
Banker Sergei Mendeleev, businessman Boris Usherovich, and his partner Valery Markelov
It is necessary to note that the financial situations of the two banks were different. Yenisei had experienced severe financial issues since 2009. For some time, large-scale infusions of money from the partner bank had helped Yenisei to keep afloat: according to the financial records of Irkutsk-based Baikalinvestbank, in the period of 2011–2012, the credit institution had provided 240 overnight credits to Yenisei for dozens of millions of rubles each. At that time, the Board of Directors of Baikalinvestbank included Aleksei Krapivin, Konstantin Grishenko (worked in Ortiga Group belonging to Krapivin and chaired the Supervisory Board of Yenisei), and Igor Evstafiev (worked in a number of structures belonging to Krapivin and was a member of the Board of Directors in Interprogressbank controlled by Krapivin). However, this support was not sufficient to save Yenisei, and Usherovich with his partners decided to get rid of the ‘sinking ship’. Yenisei has been transferred under control of well-know ‘shady businessman’ Olev Vlasov.
The CrimeRussia had already introduced Oleg Vlasov and his money laundering schemes in the framework of the story of his colleague Aleksander Grigoriev. To refresh background: businessman Grigoriev, acting in the interests of Krapivn senior and patronized by Sergei ‘Luchok’ (Onion) Lalakin, leader of ‘Podolskaya’ organized criminal group, had created a money laundering scheme involving Moldavian banks. Baltika Joint Stock Commercial Bank was among these banks. Olev Vlasov was a partner of Grigoriev in the money laundering business and co-owner of Baltika. Vlasov had started his career under the leadership of another famous banker, Aleksei Frenkel ( sentenced to 19 years in a maximum security penal colony for masterminding the murder of Andrei Kozlov, Deputy Chairman of the Bank of Russia), and quickly became a prominent figure in the ‘shady economy’.
In the course of the Yenisei collapse investigation, it has been found that the bank was closely linked with Baltika managed by Olev Vlasov. In the end of 2014, it was decided to merge Baltika Joint Stock Commercial Bank and N-Bank Commercial Bank with Yenisei. It is necessary to note that the both merging banks were controlled by the same people, including:
Oksana Chernyak, Chairperson of Board in Baltika, was a co-owner of N-Bank
Khrono Limited Liability Company, Ivan Kalita Investment Company Joint Stock Company, and Noutung Limited Liability Company were co-owners of Baltika and N-Bank
Above-mentioned Olev Vlasov, Chairman of Board of Directors in Baltika, was a co-owner of N-Bank
However, only N-Bank has merged with Yenisei. Baltika refused to merge in September 2015 and lost its license a month later. The license was revoked due to the same reason as for Yenisei: “investments of monetary funds into subprime-related assets”. However, this was not the end of collaboration between the two credit institutions: Oleg Vlasov and his ‘right hand’ Oksana Chernyak have transferred from ‘sinking’ Baltika to Yenisei as members of its Supervisory Board.
In addition, Yenisei has got premises earlier rented by Baltika – we have identified this while reviewing former addresses of Baltika branches. The Value Report of Movable and Immovable Assets of Baltika Joint Stock Commercial Bank Public Joint Stock Company is available on the web site of the Deposit Insurance Agency of Russia. According to this report, the bank used to rent premises located at the following addresses:
offices 19N and 20N, building A, 15 Vilensky lane, St. Petersburg
2 Leitenanta Yanalova street, Kaliningrad
office 247, 6 Belkinskaya street, Obninsk
Yenisei also inherited the trademark of collapsed Baltika and its mortgagors.
Apparently, a time-tested scheme was used in this case: the funds are transferred to a controlled bank and then actively siphoned off abroad or to controlled companies – until the bank crashes. Then the rest of funds and assets are transferred to the next controlled bank, and the scheme is repeated again.
The financial ‘hole’ in the Yenisei budget was almost 5 billion rubles ($88.9 million). Where is the money? Our source was able to answer this question, but the answer was truly surprising: the money had never existed. When the bank was transferred from Antipina to Antonov, several ‘zeroes’ have been added to the amount of its charter capital. This machination had been concealed for many years by all means – including infusions of money from Baikalinvestbank and merger with N-Bank and Baltika. But all the efforts could not save the bank from collapse.
Rosgosstrakh Bank and Sberbank have been chosen to pay insurance compensations to clients of Yenisei Joint Stock Commercial Bank. In accordance with the legislation, these banks are to repay amounts of up to 1.4 million rubles ($24.9 thousand) to individuals. Most probably, the clients can forget about the rest of funds – the majority of the assets should have already been siphoned off abroad or to structures controlled by ‘shady banker’ Vlasov through standard cashing-out schemes.