Notorious raider sets sights on first Russian shopping mall
The scandalous story with the Univermag Moskva Company, the owner of the eponymous shopping mall on Leninsky Prospekt, keeps on spinning.
Thus, the ex-director general of the Moskva shopping mall Dmitry Ulianitsky filed a complaint to the Federal Antimonopoly Service for the violation of the rules of auction management in regards to the sale of the shopping mall building. As it turned out, this case may involve an infamous businessman Vladimir Palikhata, whose name was repeatedly mentioned in connection with illegal takeovers.
Leading legal battles
Former director general of the Moskva shopping mall Dmitry Ulianitsky keeps on fighting for control over the Univermag Moskva Company. In fact, he has already lost his influence, but is unwilling to go down. For this reason, Ulianitsky appealed to the Moscow department of the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) of the Russian Federation with the complaint for the violation of the rules of auction management in regards to the sale of the shopping mall building.
As the FAS already established, the auction organizer set additional requirements for bidders. Those requirements are absent in the bankruptcy law. As a result, the bidding was put in jeopardy.
However, this is not the first scandal associated with this shopping mall. Thus for instance, another ex-director Grigory Rabinovich did not like that, as a result of the additional issue of shares in 2006, the eight shareholders, who had previously owned 79% of the shares, received only 1.5%, while the share of Ulianitsky increased from 9.97% to 95% of the total amount. Ultimately, the investigators turned their attention to Ulianitsky himself. The former director general of the shopping mall stands accused of fraud, embezzlement and non-execution of an enforceable court ruling. At present the criminal case contains 80 volumes.
Palikhata going to the stars by hard ways
Rumor has it that the prosecution against former leaders of the shopping mall works in favor of Moskva’s largest shareholder and creditor, Rosenergomash CEO Vladimir Palikhata. The businessman owns about 90% of the Moskva’s shares and the equal percentage of its debts.
Moreover, some rumors imply that Palikhata gained control of this asset via an illegal takeover.
This story goes back to the mid-2000s, when Palikhata was accused of being involved in the license revocation of Sodbiznesbank and Kredittrastbank.
The reason for the revocation of licenses lay in a raider conflict for control over the Moskva shopping mall between Vladimir Palikhata and the shady owner of the abovementioned banks Alexander Slesarev. Palikhata supposedly carried out the takeover at the order of Roman Tsepov, the owner of the Baltic Escort security company, who died under mysterious circumstances in September 2004 in St. Petersburg.
The conflict had lingered for a long period of time, each of the two parties gained an upper hand only to lose it afterwards. In the end, Vladimir Palikhata enlisted the support and patronage of high-ranking officials and placed the final nail in the coffin of his opponent’s ambitions. With the help of the security forces, Palikhata won his fight with Slesarev. As a result, Palikhata received huge profit from the sale of the captured shopping mall of the US company, a grand $ 25-30 million in total.
Palikhata’s opponent was unable to continue the fight, since in October 2005 Alexander Slesarev and his family were killed on the Don federal highway. Unidentified killers shot their car.
It is an easy guess as to who would benefit from such an outcome.
Fascinating story of Palikhata the Great Raider
Despite everything we have already mentioned, the Moskva shopping mall is just another page in the novel about Palikhata’s greatest raiding feats.
Vladimir Palikhata was accused of raiding the Moscow Institute for Basic Chemical Plant Engineering (later his brother, Ivan Myronovich Palikhata, would become one of the owners of the institute), the Ulyanovsk plant Contactor, and the building of the Novoye Vremya magazine in the Pushkin Square in Moscow. Palikhata carried out the raiding attack on the magazine at the suggestion of Evgeny Antimony, the owner of the Moscow pubs network Kruzhka. Novoye Vremya’s financial director Dmitry Minakov also provided assistance in changing the owners of the magazine. Then Palikhata also seized the Metallist Company in collaboration with the Strategiya Zaschity consultation center. When the leadership of the Metallist Company found themselves in dire situation, they turned for help to the Strategiya Zaschity, which handed over all of the important information to Palikhata. The businessman employed heavy-handed methods during the attack on the Metallist plant and even enlisted the help of some interior ministry members. Several criminal cases were open, in particular, regarding the Metallist situation. Still, the owners of the companies that Palikhata had seized failed to reclaim them.
Vladimir Palikhata also organized an illegal takeover of the Moscow Research Institute of Elastomeric Materials. First, the Sphera Company, headed by Palikhata, took over the building of the research institute in Moscow. Then it took over the management of the institute. After that, Palikhata’s company became the owner of a controlling stake in the research institute by forging a share purchase agreement and going into a few trials (the case of transfer of the institute’s property was heard in the Shatsky District court of the Ryazan Region by the corrupted judges). Later Palikhata registered a new legal address for the institute in Novosibirsk.
At a later stage, the Sphera Company sold the enterprise to the Moscow Inland Navigation Company, directed by Roman Trotsenko. This encouraged the law enforcement agencies to launch a number of criminal cases, one of them against the raiders - indicting Palikhata’s former guard Nikolay Nesterenko, Director of the Business-contract Company. Another criminal case was initiated by Palikhata’s supporters - against the legal director of the research institute Sergey Reznichenko. On a side note, the press talked about the assassination that the raiders organized in connection with the illegal takeover of the institute - an investigator from Karachay-Cherkessia, who was following a criminal case on this takeover, died under mysterious circumstances.
Palikhata Siding with Oligarchs
Over time, Vladimir Palikhata gained more and more renown as a great raiding specialist. As a result, he began to deal with large businessmen, many of whom are called simply ‘oligarchs.’
As an example, in 2004, after four armed takeovers, Eduard Taran gained control of the Irkutsk plant Angarskcement (formerly known as the Angarsk Cement Mining Plant). Taran would not have been able to perform this kind of operation without the help from his business partner, head of the Sphera Company Vladimir Palikhata.
In February 2005, Palikhata made contact with Boris Berezovsky, who recommended him to the owners of the YUKOS Company, calling Palikhata the man who would save their assets. Berezovsky planned to use the gains from Palikhata’s projects to fund his chosen presidential candidate during the upcoming election campaign in Russia in 2008. According to Ukrainian politicians Bogdan Gubsky and Mikhail Brodsky, who met with Berezovsky and Palikhata, their election headquarters was funded through Vladimir Palikhata’s brother Ivan.
Thanks to Berezovsky, Palikhata learned that businessman Suleiman Kerimov had been offered an assignment by another Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska to acquire the Glavmosstroy Company. Employing not entirely legal means, Palikhata seized a significant stake in the Mospromstroymaterialy Joint Stock Company, one of the major shareholders of Glavmosstroy. Kerimov and Palikhata fought claw and tooth, initiating criminal cases and even kidnapping people. In the end, Palikhata emerged as the winner, and in April 2006 he successfully sold his stake at the Mospromstroymaterialy Company (which he actually obtained for trifling sum) to Oleg Deripaska. The analysts estimated that the deal was worth more than $ 20 million.
Recent information suggests that Vladimir Palikhata is currently doing business with the former president of Kalmykia, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.
All this testifies to the fact that the Rosenergomash president has made many influential friends and even has high-ranking officials among his patrons. There are suggestions that Palikhata has connections with a member of the Federation Council Lyudmila Narusova.
Sadly, it proves that with such ties Palikhata is not going to find himself in jail any time soon, in spite of all the record of his raiding activities.
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