Mikhail Fridman’s right hand arrested over corruption in Spain

Mikhail Fridman’s right hand arrested over corruption in Spain
Peter Wakkie

Dutch lawyer Peter Wakkie was detained at the airport of Madrid. As media reports, recently he, being the head of Zed, was intentionally bankrupting the company so that the Russian billionaire could then purchase it on distress price.⁠

The Spanish police detained famous Dutch corporate lawyer  Peter Wakkie managing the going bankrupt Madrid Zed+ at the airport of Madrid. According to law enforcement authorities, was causing difficulties to the investigation, carried out over multimillion bribes of the Russian division of Zed. This was reported by Life.ru with reference to the Spanish El Confidencial online media.

It is noted that Zed is a world leader in the mobile content sale sphere. Owners of the company are Spanish entrepreneurs, a part of shares belongs to the Russian telecom operator VimpelCom. The main beneficiary of VimpelCom (through Alfa Group) — citizen of Russia and Israel Mikhail Fridman, number two in the domestic Forbes list with a wealth of $13,3 billion.

The  Peter Wakkie's arrest, judging by headings of the western media, became surprise. According to official information, he directs the main holding structure of the Zed group — the Dutch Zed+ which was formed a few years ago by merge of the Spanish Zed Worldwide and the Russian Temafon. The background says that in 2013 the Spanish partners found out that means from Zed suddenly began to flow away through Temafon in the Vstrecha company, and from it went to the FunBox company — about $30 million flowed away. Subsequently it became clear that money went for bribes to officials.

Management of Zed+ just could not believe in such an impudent scheme and even requested several expert opinions from the consulting company PriceWaterHouse. Auditors came to a natural conclusion that “resources of the Spanish firm and its Russian division were used for creation of profit for the third parties”.

After that the company could not repay the credit of 140 million euros and went to bankruptcy. The commercial court of Amsterdam in 2014 appointed Peter Wakkie the managing director of Zed+, while Spaniards were discharged of company management. It is reported that in general the corporate conflict was provoked by the Russian side, so that LetterOne (belongs to Fridman) could purchase Zed on distress price.

Wakkie played not the last role in this swindle. Thus, El Confidential calls him the “right hand” of Fridman: according to the media, Wakkie is connected with Highland Marine Stichting fund. Through this LetterOne owned and sold assets in the North Sea. Anyway, the offended Spanish shareholders interested law enforcement agencies on both sides of Atlantic. Also the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the American prosecutor's office, FBI and even CIA are involved in investigation.

The Russian business of Zed is represented mainly by CJSC Temafon and CJSC Tematika (owns the zedplus.ru domain). According to SPARK base, consolidated revenues of these closed joint stock companies for 2015 — 1,7 billion rubles, a net profit — 517,6 million rubles. Zed Russia business is trivial for today: the company organizes various entertaining services for Beeline, among other things there is “Melodies instead of beeps”. During the different periods entrepreneur Vladimir Turovetsky directed all these firms. He was the CEO of LLC Vstrecha — this firm is in a liquidation stage now.

The Spanish police together with colleagues from the USA and the Netherlands assumes that Vstrecha is not the unique company which was used by malefactors. It is specified that at least four more firms could participate in briberies: Vstrecha 2, BMK, A1 Systems and Expert Promotion. Besides, it is possible that VimpelCom, Bambalia and Gervaser also participated in frauds. The beneficiary of the last two companies, as El Confidencial specifies, is Vage Engibaryan, the close friend of Mikhail Fridman. So it is not excluded that soon investigating officers will have questions to VimpelCom, but not to the Russian division of Zed. 

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