Give bribe back. Russian entrepreneur causes political scandal in Kyrgyz Republic
On the eve of the Kyrgyz Republic Presidential Elections, entrepreneur and former State Duma of the Russian Federation MP Leonid Maevsky suddenly recollected giving former Temporary Kyrgyz Government Deputy Chair and running presidential candidate Omurbek Tekebaev a $1 million bribe 7 years ago. He paid the money in exchange for executing purchasing of the largest Kyrgyz mobile operator. However, the agreement has never been executed. Tekebaev’s supporters have already asked the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation and Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation Chair for legal evaluation of the Russian citizen’s actions.
Kyrgyz MP and Ata Meken Socialist Party Head Omurbek Tekebaev was arrested in the Manas International Airport, City of Bishkek in February of 2017. Intelligence agencies got him when he was getting off a plane that flew him back home after participating in a Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE meeting. He was arrested after Russian entrepreneur Leonid Maevsky accused him of soliciting and taking a $1 million bribe. Tekebaev has been kept in pre-trial detention facility for 2 weeks, since articles he is accused of breaking do not provide privileges to MPs.
Leonid Maevsky’s accusations may end the member of the opposition’s career in politics. Maevsky not only filed a complaint to the Kyrgyz State Committee for National Security, but published his view of the situation as well. In 2010, Maevsky paid Tekebaev in exchange for Tekebaev letting Maevsky manage the Alfa Telecom (trademarked as MegaCom) Mobile Operator and then sell his shares to Maevsky, according to the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Kyrgyz Republic. Tekebaev worked as the Temporary Kyrgyz Government Deputy Chair at the time. The investigation has already established that Kyrgyz Ministry of Emergency Situations Head at the time Duyshonkul Chotonov arranged a meeting between Tekebaev and Leonid Maevsky in May of 2010. The two met in Bishkek; Maevsky was offered Alfa Telecom’s shares. It is worth mentioning that 49% of Alfa Telecom’s shares had been nationalized as far back as in April of 2010 (the Federal Agency for State Property Management was the owner). 51% of the shares was privately owned (it is worth mentioning the investigation is investigating why the company was not fully nationalized at the time). Alfa Telecom’s market value was estimated at about $300-350 million. That is why investors interested in the company had to audit it. Such an audit would have cost them $1 million.
However, Tekebaev made Maevsky a unique offer: if Maevsky paid the same money ($1 million) to Tekebaev then Maevsky would be able to manage the company without the need for official audit. Maevsky accepted the offer. First he transferred $300 000 and then $700.000 more. Tekebaev then invited him to the next meeting, according to the Russian investor. He had yet another demand at the meeting: Maevsky had to give him 10-15% of the amount the company would be sold for in the future. Tekebaev was told it is impossible to pay that much money in cash. This led to an argument the parties were not able to resolve in 7 years. Tekebaev did not make good on his promises. He refused to return the money, too, and even threatened with murder if they filed any claim or published information about it. Yet Maevsky did the latter, albeit 7 years later. It resulted in a criminal case against Omurbek Tekebaev being opened on accusation of him breaking the article 303, part 1 (“Corruption”) of the Criminal Code of the Kyrgyz Republic. The case was opened since Tekebaev worked as the Temporary Kyrgyz Government Deputy Chair at the time. He is also accused of breaking the article 166, parts 2, 3, and 4 (“Swindling Committed through Use of one’s Authority”) of the Criminal Code of the Kyrgyz Republic. “Omurbek Tekebaev shattered confidence in credibility and reputation of the public service and threatened interests of the society and government. He gained trust of a certain citizen and lied to them to get them to pay him a significant amount of money”, Maevsky said.
Omurbek Chirkeshovich Tekebaev is a Kyrgyz politician. He served as an MP for 4 Kyrgyz Parliaments (“Zhogorku Kenesh”). Tekebaev is the Head of the Ata Meken Socialist Party and Za Reformi! Public Movement. He is a Kyrgyz Republic horned lawyer and 1st rank state service state adviser. Tekebaev is one of the most experienced Kyrgyz politicians. He proved himself to be most influential as a member of the opposition. He has run for the President of the Kyrgyz Republic every single time since 1995. His relationships with the current Kyrgyz Republic President Almazbek Atambayev have been steadily deteriorating since August of 2016, according to analysts.
The politician was well aware of the fact that he would have responsibilities and promised to change the Alfa Telecom management, according to Kyrgyz State Committee for National Security Chair Abdil Segizbaev’s statement made during a Kyrgyz Parliament meeting. Maevsky is the victim, given the circumstances, since he was dealt significant damage, Segizbaev pointed out during the same speech. The State Committee can prove Tekebaev’s crimes; it has both evidences and witnesses. However, it cannot go public with details due to investigatory exemption to public records.
Many people – even outside of the Republic – pointed out that Maevsky made the fuzz just in time. The criminal prosecution may very well remove a valid contender from the Kyrgyz Presidential race. Why did Maevsky remain silent for so many years? Why did the Republic law enforcement finally got interested in the case now? Is it even possible there was no one suspecting Maevsky and Tekebaev were going to make a ‘not so legal’ agreement in 2010? Did no one know the only reason the 2 did not make a deal was that they could not agree on terms? Answers to these questions are obvious. Especially since no one even tries to hide confrontation between current President Atambayev and the Ata Meken Socialist Party Head. Maevsky is quite open about the fact that he decided to file a complaint to the State Committee at this specific time upon an advice of “knowledgeable people”. “My partners who own large businesses in the Republic and who I have known for more than 40 years told me: “Leonid, the current situation in the Republic means your complaint will be dealt with objectively and honestly”. After having consulted lawyers and other entrepreneurs who work on the same market, I decided to make the statement without having to fear for my safety and with the hope of having my claim dealt with objectively”, Maevsky said.
State Committee Chair Abdil Segizbaev presented trust documents and an apostille to Almazbek Atambayev on November 14, 2016. He claimed the documents were obtained from Belize official agencies. 3 high ranking officials and acting MPs representing the opposition Ata Meken Socialist Party Omurbek Tekebaev, Aida Salyanova, and Almambet Shikmamatov were mentioned in the presented “trust declaration” executed on April 4, 2012. It was reported that the politicians would have gotten 22% of the company’s shares (8%, 7%, 7%) if more than 50% of Alfa Telecom’s shares owned by the Southfield offshore company were successfully sold for more than 50 million. It was former President Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s son Maksim Bakiev who may have owned the company, according to the State Committee. Alfa Telecom’s shares were not sold due to the Republic government nationalizing it.
Omurbek Tekebaev’s party does not believe that its Head could have sold out. The arrested politician’s supporters entered the game of politics and claim there were not reasons to arrest Tekebaev; Maevsky’s claims are fake; prosecutors and intelligence agencies were interested in taking down the main competitor to the current regime, not enforcing the law; Tekebaev opposed amending the Kyrgyz Republic Constitution and advocated impeaching the current President. “This case is an absolute fake. Our faction and Omurbek Tekebaev in particular proved all the Belize documents earlier presented by the State Committee and prosecutors are fake”, Head of the Secretariat of Ata Meken Taalaygul Toktakunova stated. Tekebaev’s fellow party members hope to prove it is intelligence agencies’ game of politics during Maevsky’s case, too.
It is worth mentioning that Kyrgyz politicians are no strangers to political scandals. One of the most high profile ones happened in 2006, when polish customs officers found a nesting doll with 595.9 grams of heroin inside of it when inspecting Omurbek Tekebaev’s baggage at the Warsaw Airport. Later the doll was proved to have been planted by Kyrgyz intelligence agencies involved in games of politics.
The Ata Meken Parliamentary Faction has already filed a complaint to the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation Yury Chaika and Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation Chair Alexander Bastrykin. The Faction asked them to evaluate legality of actions of Russian citizen Leonid Maevsky who had accused their leader of taking a bribe. “According to the Russian Law, his claims (actions) are punishable under the Criminal Code of the Kyrgyz Republic and under the article 291 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federatio”, the Faction MPs stated. The Faction members also want Russian customs service representative to tell them whether Maevsky declared $300 000 when travelling in July of 2010. Otherwise there is nothing but oral claims of the money having been handed to Tekebaev. Ata Meken decided to nominate its Head a Kyrgyz Presidential Candidate while the investigation is still going on. Tekebaev’s popularity with his voter base will sky rocket if he manages to get off the hook, analysts say. The 2017 Kyrgyz President Elections will be held on November 19, according to the Kyrgyz Constitution. This means Tekebaev does not have that much time to prove his innocence to his voter base.
Tekebaev’s supporters repeatedly stated his problems stem from his misguided decision to get involved with a wrong kind of person. They began making such statements after the embattled politician’s high profile arrest. So, what kind of a person Leonid Maevsky is? Is him being involved with the situation surrounding MegaCom just a coincidence? Why did he become infamous for being involved with bankrupting throughout his years in business?
Leonid Maevsky was born in the City of Rubtsovsk, Altai Krai. He is a Doctor of Technical Sciences; 1st rank captain; State Duma of the Russian Federation MP representing the Communist Party of the Russian Federation; competitor to Leonid Polezhaev in 2003 Omsk Region Governor Elections; 2004-2008 owner of the LV Finance Company that owned the MegaFon mobile operator’s blocking ownership (common stock which gives the right to block, by analogy with majority ownership, translator’s note) in 2003; initiator and organizer of purchasing of 25.1% of MegaFon’s shares by LV Financе and their selling to the Altimo Group of Companies for $295 million (the same shares were sold for $5.2 billion to Alisher Usmanov’s companies in 2011); LV Financе Head at the time of the MegaFon’s shares deal; owner of 32% of SMARTS Mobile Operator’s shares since 2006 when he purchased the Sigma Capital Partners Company from Pavel Svirskoy; main shareholder of the UNITILE Company, the largest ceramic tile manufacturer in the country. Moreover, Maevsky “develops a project for provision of high-speed satellite Internet connection involving international satellite service providers”, according to his official web-site.
Leonid Maevsky has been through a lot of scandals surrounding bankruptcy of large financial conglomerates throughout his years in business. It is worth mentioning his involvement with this type of things has always been indirect (companies he was interested in had already been on the verge of bankruptcy; he would then help owners of such companies using his money). However, it still helped him gain a certain type of reputation. A scandal surrounding SAKHO (Sibirsky Agrarny Holding Group of Companies) is among most recent ones on the list. Entrepreneur and National Grain Producers’ Union President Pavel Skurikhin is the SAKHO founder. He and his partner founded SAKHO in 2000. Skurikhin became the Board of Directors Chair.
SAKHO was one of the largest Russian agricultural industry companies. It cultivated about 400 000 hectares of land in the Siberian, Volga, Central, and Southern Federal Districts. It was mainly concerned with: grain production, storage, and processing; grain trade; baking; animal husbandry. SAKHO last published information about its financial performance in 2008. Its revenue amounted to 10 billion rubles back then. The majority of the Group’s companies has filed bankruptcy. SAKHO’s current liabilities amount to 15-18 billion rubles, as estimated by the Russian Federation Ministry of Agriculture.
However, an agreement with it was terminated in January of 2014; Skurikhin thought that the main requirement of the agreement was not met, namely SAKHO’s current liabilities were not paid off. Maevsky failed to make an agreement with any of the lending bank in a year’s time. SAKHO also accused managers who worked with Maevsky of engaging in illegal activities. The thing is SAKHO’s 2013 field work was nearly hindered. At the same time, actions of managers appointed by Leonid Maevsky led to SAKHO filing bankruptcy. A SAKHO co-founder also claimed Maevsky was responsible for nonexistent agreements worth billions of rubles; investor’s representatives tried to use them to bloat SAKHO’s current liabilities. It led to not only the Board of Directors declining Leonid Maevsky’s services, but to them filing a complaint to the Department of the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation in the Siberian Federal District and Novgorod Region Public Prosecutor’s Office asking them to: sort out the complicated situation SAKHO ended up being at; use procuratorial powers to punish perpetrators. It has yet to be known whether procuratorial inspections resulted in anything and whether such inspections were conducted at all.
Leonid Maevsky responded by publishing an official statement on his personal web-site. He claimed he had never been a part of the operational management of SAKHO or any company affiliated with it. As for his appointees, they insisted (SAKHO Head Valery Lebedinsky in particular) it was Pavel Skurikhin’s team that was responsible for SAKHO’s bankruptcy. Bakeries worked just fine, but then Skurikhin began changing directors of “for-profit companies” which chain stores paid for delivered products. Skurikhin’s team interfering with operation of the bakeries was the reason they stopped.
Leonid Maevsky thought that he had been deceived (SAKHO’s debt turned out to be much bigger than its assets). He did not carry the SAKHO purchase agreement through due to the abovementioned reasons. That is why he founded the Rassvet Agricultural Group of Companies in the Novosibirsk Region as far back as in 2013. That is when the local government and Russian Agricultural Bank became his partners. Some agricultural companies of now bankrupt SAKHO became parts of Rassvet. Maevsky filed a lawsuit against Skurikhin. He demanded the defendant filed bankruptcy and paid him back a $35 000 loan granted to him for meeting the SAKHO’s needs. Court ruled in favor of Maevsky in 2015. Skurikhin had to pay 15 364 rubles and 78 kopecks more in legal costs as a result. The only thing Maevsky holds against the bankrupt entrepreneur now is his debt to him.
Relationships between Leonid Maevsky and the UNITILE Group of Companies are equally tragic. He became its majority shareholder in 2011. UNITILE founder (a leading Russian group of companies specializing in ceramic and ceramic granite tiles manufacturing that has plants in the Leningrad, Rostov, and Voronezh Regions) and only shareholder of its main company Stroyfarfor Lazar Shaulov had managed this business on his own for almost 15 years. Sales suddenly slowed down after the 2008 financial crisis. This resulted in sudden current liabilities increase. It amounted to 6 billion rubles by 2011. UNITILE’s companies had to file bankruptcy. But Lazar Shaulov found another way out of the situation; he presented bankruptcy as a controlled operation for saving assets. The owner asked Leonid Maevsky for help. Maevsky partially bought out UNITILE’s debt (600 million rubles). He did it through the Biznes Otsenka Company. By doing so Maevsky received the right to convert the debt into shares. He made an agreement with creditors; they allowed him to restructure the remaining debt at an 8% interest rate. Maevsky began managing UNITILE eventually. He de facto controlled it, except for Stroyfarfor. Shaulov remained the majority shareholder. Creditors filed lawsuits against UNITILE at the time of the agreement between the 2 entrepreneurs. They demanded 4.4 billion rubles. It is worth mentioning that the bulk of the debt – 3.7 billion rubles – UNITILE owed to Sberbank of Russia. UNITILE was successfully reorganized in 2012, according to Maevsky’s team. It is also worth mentioning the reorganization was carried out without filing bankruptcy and laying off almost 2 500 employees.
However, Lazar Shaulov thinks it was not all that good, after all. He waited 2 years for Maevsky to carry through on his obligations. Still, the Group of Companies owed 2.8 billion rubles in December 2013. Shaulov decided to disqualify Maevsky from managing the Group of Companies. But that is when he got into big troubles. The Stroyfarfor and Vladimirsky Karier Tugoplavkikh Glin (a UNITILE company) Companies stopped servicing loans and filed bankruptcy under the management of Maevsky from 2012 to 2014, as it turned out. Other UNITILE companies also filed bankruptcy due to Maevsky’s influence. For example, a large City of Voronezh Ceramics Plant filed bankruptcy under Diadema Company’s lawsuit. The Plant set a ridiculously low price when doing so. The same fly-by-night company filed other lawsuits. It is worth mentioning that it was Maevsky who controlled it, according to media outlets. It is also worth mentioning that about 220 million rubles was pulled from Stroyfarfor’s bank accounts and transferred to offshore ones since it filed bankruptcy. It was only possible to stop it after Lazar Shaulov’s attorneys interfered. However, it took time for new Stroyfarfor CEO Ilia Udovichenko appointed by the owner to take place of the former one dismissed by Lazar Shaulov. At first, the new CEO could not gain access to the Plant. It was due to Maevsky having influenced commercial court into prohibiting making changes to the Unified State Register of Legal Entities of the Russian Federation. That is why it was impossible to register a new CEO for a while.
Leonid Maevsky’s legal entity won a lawsuit against Stroyfarfor’s owner and was awarded more than 20 million rubles as a result. Later, Shaulov won a lawsuit and was awarded control over the Plant. Stroyfarfor managed to stay afloat despite its financial problems.
As for the City of Murmansk Ship Repair Plant, it did not survive Maevsky. The Plant was founded in 1917. It originated from shipyards and was one of the largest shipyards for vessels of all types and classes on the eastern part of the Kola Bay. It serviced both civil vessels (including ones equipped with nuclear propulsion systems) and those of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation. The Plant was also hamstrung by the 2008 financial crisis. However, it managed to stay in the black even during those hard times. But 2 years later the Plant was de jure converted into a company registered in Moscow. The Murmansk Plant was now a subsidiary of the said company. Now, it was not the Plant CEO who managed it, but the managing company. ‘Genius’ management practices led to the Plant’s 2011 losses growing dozens of times compared to the previous year; it exceeded 102 million rubles. The Plant did not manage to survive. It bankrupted in summer of 2012. Only 84 of thousands of employees stayed at the Plant by then. Still, they did not have any work to do. The only Plant in Russia that could fix line shafting of nuclear ice breakers practically ceased to exist.
Leonid Maevsky was involved with telecommunication projects in Russia and CIS countries (including the Republic) from 2009 to 2012. Maevsky said he is no longer interested in the Kyrgyz market after the whole Tekebaev kerfuffle. No one knows whether Maevsky will be able to get his investment back or whether even hopes for it. Maevsky has always ended up being in the black even when failing, judging from his past business projects. But is it even possible for one to win when dragged into another country’s game of politics?