‘Golden life’ for owners of bankrupt Yashma holding
The famous Yashma–Zoloto (Jasper–Gold) jewelry chain is bankrupt; the process is almost over. The chances of its creditors – which include the Federal Tax Service of the Russian Federation and major Russian banks – are slim to none. The jewelry holding is in distress – unlike its prosperous owners.
Lots of gold in muddy water
Debt-stricken Yashma–Zoloto (Jasper–Gold) jewelry holding is about to cease its existence. The downfall of Yashma – similarly with its earlier meteoric rise – raises lots of questions. The business run by Igor Mavlyanov, the key owner of the holding, involved plenty of ‘shady’ schemes from the very beginning. Early in the 1990s, Mavlyanov had attempted to import wholesale parties of cheap Turkish gold into Russia – but the jewelry quality was so poor that it was difficult to find stores willing to buy it. So, the future billionaire decided to launch his own retail chain: no intermediaries – no unnecessary questions.
In 1998, Robert Martirosyan joined the business – that managed to survive the financial meltdown – but Igor Mavlyanov still remained its principal owner. The partners have established Yashma Trade and Production Company Open Joint Stock Company later transformed into the household name. The business strategy remained the same: eliminate the intermediaries. In 2003, Yashma has acquired the Kostroma Jewelry Factory. This allowed Mavlyanov and Martirosyan to create a complete trade cycle – from jewelry production to sales. The legal structure of the holding was designed to ensure maximum non-transparency of its operations. Technically speaking, Yashma–Zoloto jewelry holding does not exist. There are Yashma Trade and Production Company, retail stores – that formally are independent legal entities, and Yashma Jewelry House company managing the entire retail chain but officially unrelated to it. Yashma Jewelry House is also undergoing liquidation.
Yashma–Zoloto (Jasper–Gold) jewelry chain
The prosperous era has ended in 2015, when Yashma Trade and Production Company and some other companies of the holding stopped making payments under multibillion loans. Major Russian banks, including Sberbank, Promsvyazbank, and VTB, were among the creditors of Yashma–Zoloto. Its total indebtedness exceeds 31 billion rubles. The Federal Tax Service of the Russian Federation is one of the primary creditors of Yashma–Zoloto – its financial claims amount to 10 billion rubles; such huge sums are rarely featured in bankruptcy cases, including the most high-profile ones.
In the end of December 2016, the Investigative Committee of the Russia Federation (ICR) has initiated a criminal case in relation to tax evasion episodes committed by top managers of Yashma Trade and Production Company. According to the investigators, in 2011–2012, the company had been reducing the tax base for the value-added tax using the old scheme of loans. The scope of the scam and continuous emphasis on the gold are truly astonishing. Operatives of the Moscow divisions of the Federal Tax Service, General Administration for Economic Security and Combating the Corruption of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), and ICR have uncovered a scheme involving 24 dummy companies used by Yashma Trade and Production Company as intermediaries to receive loans in gold bullions from Transnatsionalny (Transnational) Bank (its license was revoked in 2015). Then the obligations of Yashma had been discharged through mutual offset of liabilities.
Then the same 24 companies were used to sell the bullions through a chain of agreements. They had also participated in the cashing in of funds withdrawn from the taxation and transferred the money to Yashma Jewelry House. As noted above, this company used to supervise the entire retail chain, which allowed to siphon the funds to Russian regions and then abroad. As a result, after the 2 years of such ‘jewelry’ work, the Federal Tax Service falls short of 7.16 billion rubles in the principal debt and 2.86 rubles in fines. The fate of billions transferred abroad will be addressed below.
The list of principal creditors in the bankruptcy of Yashma Trade and Production Company includes major Russian banks. Financial claims of Sberbank and VTB amount to 8.6 and 5.4 billion rubles respectively. Yashma owes 3 billion rubles to Promsvyazbank and 1.5 billion rubles to Gazprombank. Its debts to Transcapitalbank and Otkrytie (Opening) Bank are some 1.1 billion rubles.
Inspired by their success in the turnover of precious metals, the partners had tried hand at other spheres of business. Martirosyan used to own – through Arial Joint Stock Company and its subsidiary Aerofirst Closed Joint Stock Company – the chain of duty free stores in Sheremetyevo and Domodedovo airports. Mavlyanov owned shares in Ramstroy and Agrostroy construction companies. The duty free stores have accrued huge debts and went bankrupt similarly with Yashma–Zoloto. VTB managed to collect 3.7 billion rubles from structures owned by Martirosyan; currently both companies belong to other individuals.
Mavlyanov had mortgaged his shares in the construction companies and contracted loans totaling 9 billion rubles. During the auction sale, these assets have been estimated only at 1.5 billion rubles. Both development companies co-owned by Mavlyanov have troubled construction projects, which affects the cost of their shares: Agrostroy has issues with Novo-Nikolskoe Residential Complex, while Ramstroy can’t complete Solnechny Residential Complex. According to some sources, it was Mavlyanov who had put the developers into trouble by using funds of housing co-investors to secure his personal well-being.
Yashma–Zoloto had no scruples about using shady and glaringly criminal financial schemes. The story with gold bullions and the fact that the company assets were next to nothing by the time of its bankruptcy confirm this. Only 11.8 million rubles remain on accounts of Yashma Trade and Production Company. Mavlyanov and Martirosyan use all possible tricks to escape liability or at least buy some time. The personal bankruptcy law has become one of their tools. In 2015, Sberbank had attempted to initiate a personal bankruptcy procedure against Mavlyanov, but the Moscow Arbitration Court has dismissed this motion because the creditor’s claims were not supported by an enforceable court ruling.
The hastiness of lawyers representing Sberbank looked really weird, but Mavlyanov has made the right conclusions for himself. Immediately after this episode, Mavlyanov and Martirosyan have relocated from the capital into the town of Bobrov in the Voronezh region. On March 2, 2015, the Arbitration Court of the Voronezh Region has declared Igor Mavlyanov a bankrupt following a lawsuit from Stil’–Gold, a small Moscow-based company, whose asserted claim amounted to 950 thousand rubles. A week later, Moscow-based Biryuza (Turquoise) Limited Liability Company has filed a similar lawsuit with the Arbitration Court of the Voronezh Region against Robert Martirosyan. Apparently, the businessmen had figured out that it would be easier for them to take control over the bankruptcy process in a region. Based on the case materials, the entrepreneurs definitely were not taken unaware. Martirosyan owns shares in 16 companies and has 50 thousand rubles on his bank account. Mavlyanov looks more wealthy – he owns shares in 42 companies and has some 250 thousand rubles on his personal account. However, taking the passion of Mavlyanov for business credits, it is possible to suppose that these shares would cost close to nothing.
For the benefit of the family
The funds that have disappeared from Yashma–Zoloto accounts and personal accounts of the company owners must pop-up somewhere. No information is available about personal assets of Martirosyan – but the wealth of ‘debt-stricken’ Mavlyanov is truly impressive. During all the years of operation of Yashma–Zoloto, he had been literally collecting real properties in the U.S. However, a year before the economic crisis – that Mavlyanov blames for all his troubles – the jeweler’s family, that had settled in the state of New York, has started frenzied activities. According to the lawsuit filed by VTB against Mavlyanov with the New York Court, in that period the future bankrupt started getting rid of the luxury real estate. But somehow the properties have mysteriously returned to their previous owners.
In its lawsuit, VTB refers to four American companies affiliated with Mavlyanov: Jasper, 119th Street, Boris, and Bowman. Ilio, a son of Igor Mavlyanov, is the owner of these companies. The American press openly names Ilio Mavlyanov the owner of Jasper. But the majority of the real properties belong to Boris and Bowman, including a mansion in Beverly Hills worth $2.44 million and a land lot in California worth $932 thousand. In the same year of 2013, Igor Mavlyanov has broken from the bonds of wedlock and gallantly left the assets to his ex-spouse Stella Mavlyanova. In particular, she has got apartments on Manhattan that her son Ilio later sold to a “completely unrelated” Even family for $4.15 million and immediately rented the units from the new owners living in Torino. Another home in New York has been transferred by Igor Mavlyanov to his younger son Hanan.
Home in New York
According to VTB, Stella Mavlyanova has also got Moscow assets of her ex-husband, including three countryside homes (two of those are located in Barvikha), land lots with the total area of 3.1 thousand square meters, and two luxury apartments in Moscow. According to experts, it is virtually impossible to institute recovery proceedings against the assets belonging to Igor Mavlyanov’s ex-wife and children. In the meantime, Igor Mavlyanov officially lives in a humble apartment in Bobrov, while Krasno Zoloto (Red Gold) retail chain is opening its stores instead of Yashma–Zoloto (Jasper–Gold) outlets. Mavlyanov denies any links with the new retail chain and does not make a secret of his further plans: he is going to start a business in Russia ‘from scratch’. Mavlyanov even claims that he has renounced his green card – which is totally understandable. American laws make it difficult for Mavlyanov to run a business in the U.S.