Creditors go after Bedzhamov's assets
Creditors of Georgy Bedzhamov, a former co-owner of Foreign Economic Industrial Bank, who has absconded – initially to Monaco and then to the UK – launched a hunt for his assets a la classic western movie. A reward is offered for information about belongings of the fugitive banker. Taking that the collapsed bank had plenty of well-known VIP clients, many people are ready and willing to peach on Bedzhamov. In the meantime, he is languishing in London with a ‘subsistence allowance' of $100 thousand per month.
The creditors trying to recover their money from fugitive banker Georgy Bedzhamov are unwilling to wait until he tells the High Court of Justice in England and Wales or Moscow Arbitration Court about his assets. A1 company subordinate to Alfa Group belonging to Mikhail Fridman and representing the interests of the Deposit Insurance Agency (DIA) of Russia made an unexpected step: a bounty was placed on his belongings a la classic western movie. Rewards are offered for any important information.
The main page of the A1 website became a hue and cry for foreign assets of Georgy Bedzhamov, a former co-owner of collapsed Foreign Economic Industrial Bank, and his sister Larissa Marcus, ex-CEO of this bank. The reward payment terms and procedures will be determined on a case-by-case basis. It can be paid as a fixed one-off fee or an agreed percentage of the total value of assets recovered.
Main page of A1 website
The cautious bank has also posted a disclaimer: "This announcement is made for information purposes only and is not a public offers, public promise of reward, announcement of a public auction or any other announcement witch gives rise to, modifies and/or terminates any legal rights and obligations".
Furthermore, the photos of Georgy Bedzhamov and promise of reward for information about his assets have been placed on information screens of Sheremetyevo International Airport and Vnukovo 3 Business Aviation Center. The main passenger flows to countries having any relationship to the interests of Bedzhamov and Marcus go through these airports.
Search announcement in the airport
In November 2015, the Bank of Russia has launched a scheduled audit of Foreign Economic Industrial Bank due to suspicions that loans totaling over 10 billion rubles ($153.4 million) were granted to dummy companies. This was the first sign of the forthcoming problems. It became known that the bank's capital has decreased from 27 to 19.5 billion rubles ($414.3– 299.2 million) within a month. The Bank of Russia ordered to supplement the reserves by 6.2 billion rubles ($95.1 million). Shortly after that, the auditors found out that the bank's liabilities exceeded its assets by some 210.14 billion rubles ($3.2 billion).
In March 2019, the High Court of Justice in England and Wales has seized assets of Georgy Bedzhamov worth £1.34 billion ($1.75 billion) pursuant to a lawsuit filed by Foreign Economic Industrial Bank. The identified assets of the banker include villas in Sant'Agnello, Italy, and Cap-d'Ail, France, 5-star Badrutt's Palace Hotel in Saint Moritz, Switzerland (Bedzhamov owns 33% of shares in it), real estate in a prestigious part of London, lands in the Moscow region, and over $3 million is a Swiss bank. The courts also imposed conservatory attachments on shares, real estate, and equipment of two glass factories belonging to Bedzhamov: Bun'kovsky Experimental Plant in Noginsk, Moscow Region, and a glass factory in Ruzaevka, Republic of Mordovia. It is also known that Bedzhamov had Wine Palace boutique in Monaco and managed FOSH 26 company specializing in real estate rentals in France.
Wine Palace boutique in Monaco
The court prohibited Bedzhamov from administering the above assets and ordered him to disclose all his belongings worth over £50 thousand "regardless of their location".
The court also prohibited the banker from leaving England and Wales and significantly limited his expenses. As a result, Bedzhamov is currently languishing in London with a ‘ridiculous' monthly allowance of $100 thousand. Initially, the court had ordered the Russian financier to live on $12 thousand per week – but Bedzhamov explained that the oligarch's lifestyle is pretty expensive:
$75 thousand per months – rent of a penthouse on Park Lane, London;
$75 thousand – rent of an apartment in Monaco where his family resides;
$60 thousand – security;
$60 thousand – clothes;
$10 thousand – barber's and concierge's services and golf club membership; and
$25 thousand – meals and entertainment, chef's and driver's services, and pocket money for the children.
The judge took pity on Bedzhamov and permitted him to live on $100 per month. "In my opinion, he would have to cut the costs even if his assets were not frozen, – the verdict states. – I permitted him to spend roughly a half of the sum he had spent prior to 2015; I consider this amount justified taking the dramatic changes in his circumstances". Bedzhamov is also allowed to spend "a reasonable amount on legal services and representation", but before spending any money, he has to explain its origin to the claimant's counsel. Furthermore, he must notify the claimant's counsel 48 hours before a transaction or a series of transactions in the amount of over £50 thousand.
Bedzhamov failed to present to the court any income received since his escape from Russia in 2015. The judge concluded that the former banker lives by selling out his assets and ordered him to disclose those to the creditors voluntarily. In addition to the sale of luxurious Ester III yacht, the Bedzhamov's share in the Swiss hotel was sold as well. Allegedly, the fugitive financier is currently living on the proceeds from these sales.
Ester III yacht
Initially, the court had ordered the banker to disclose his assets by May; then it extended the deadline to June and subsequently to July – but still hasn't received any information. During a court session held on July 30, it became known that Bedzhamov does not limit his expenses and intends to renovate his London mansion. The municipal council was supposed to authorize the planned works by July 31; the oligarch was going to transfer nearly £350 thousand to Fenton Whelan development and design company in installments not exceeding £50 thousand.
According to the court documents, on December 4, 2018, the Planning Committee of the Westminster City Council has granted a preliminary authorization for modification of premises at 17 Belgrave Square and 17 Belgrave Mews West. Prior to the commencement of the works, Bedzhamov had to provide a contribution in the amount of £1.427 million to the affordable housing fund of the Westminster City Council.
Two homes in London
It is unknown yet whether this mansion would be included in the list of assets subject to seizure for the benefit of the creditors or not. It is necessary to note that the Russian authorities are also trying to force Georgy Bedzhamov to disclose his assets through court action. On July 2, the Arbitration Court of Moscow recognized the former co-owner of Foreign Economic Industrial Bank a bankrupt. The asset disposal procedure has been launched against him. Bedzhamov must provide the complete list of his assets to the insolvency administrator.
To refresh background: the banker fled Russia immediately after the arrest of his sister Larissa Marcus, ex-CEO of Foreign Economic Industrial Bank, and her deputy Ekaterina Glushakova, ex-Head of the Credit Department of this bank, for embezzlements of clients' funds. In 2017, the court sentenced them to 8.5 and 4 years behind bars respectively for swindling and embezzlements (Articles 159 and 160 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) totaling 113.5 billion rubles ($1.7 billion). Both defendants have admitted their guilt in full.
The CrimeRussia found out that Larissa Marcus and Georgy Bedzhamov are children of famous criminal ‘authority' Avdysh (Aleksander) Bidzhamo (Alik Assiriisky). Since the Soviet period, Bidzhamo was a member of an Assyrian criminal group. Thief-in-law Vyacheslav Sliva (Sliva) and criminal ‘authority' Mark Milgotin (Marik) were also members of that gang.
The authorities are still searching for the funds siphoned off from Foreign Economic Industrial Bank. The investigation established that Larissa Marcus has created, jointly with her brother Georgy Bedzhamov, the factual head of the bank, an organized criminal group involving Vice President Ekaterina Glushakova and other unidentified persons in order to embezzle monetary funds from Foreign Economic Industrial Bank on a systematic basis.
Ekaterina Glushakova and Larissa Marcus
In the period from May 2009 and until December 2015, the accomplices had granted knowingly unrecoverable loans and withdrawn funds from clients' accounts, including VIP clients, without their knowledge. Multimillion loans were granted to companies belonging to dummy persons. Structures subordinate to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation and Moscow Patriarchate had reportedly kept money in Foreign Economic Industrial Bank – as well as relatives of Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu, Vice Premier Dmitry Kozak, Transneft CEO Nikolai Tokarev, and Aleksander Zhukov, ex-President of the Russian Olympic Committee. Furthermore, such state companies as Rosneft, Rosneftegaz, and Transneft had accounts in Foreign Economic Industrial Bank.
There is no public information that the above clients have got their money back; therefore, plenty of people are ready and willing to tell the defrauded creditors where Georgy Bedzhamov is hiding his belongings.
A1 company, that has placed a bounty of Bedzhamov's assets, is already reporting the first results. More than 100 messages were received in a few days; none of the ‘tips' were confirmed yet because each piece of information requires thorough investigation. Still, the company admits that the effect of the ‘bounty hunt' exceeds all expectations.
In April 2016, Bedzhamov was arrested in Monaco – but later released on bail; its amount remains unknown. Using his friendly ties with Albert II, the Prince of Monaco, the banker avoided the extradition to Russia pursuant to a request filed by the Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation and fled to the UK.
Interestingly, Larissa Marcus made a plea deal and told the investigation that her brother was the mastermind behind the embezzlements from the bank. In January 2019, a new swindling case was instituted against Marcus. It includes materials severed from the original inquest and incriminating both fugitive Bedzhamov and other "unidentified accomplices". So far, their portraits are not displayed in airports.