Petr Konyushenko suspected of billion-ruble embezzlements drives AtomEnergoSbyt to bankruptcy?
A year ago Petr Konyushenko, a well-known figure in the power industry, became the General Director of AtomEnergoSbyt Joint Stock Company. His fame pertains mostly to Tulaenergosbyt and Khimprom companies: he has siphoned off over 5 billion rubles ($87.7 million) from them.
In the last decade, a cohort of amazingly ‘effective’ managers has emerged in Russia; upon their arrival, any company quickly becomes bankrupt. These people are in high demand in many criminal schemes – from raiding takeovers to embezzlements. Petr Konyushenko is a true ‘specialist’ in this area; his ‘service record’ includes siphoning off funds from several power supply companies and Khimprom strategic company. Therefore, the appointment of Konyushenko an Aide to a Deputy Minister of Energy and concurrently the General Director of AtomEnergoSbyt Joint Stock Company was truly surprising. By now, Konyushenko holds this post for at least a year and has already demonstrated his ‘professional skills’. What accomplishments in Konyushenko’s resume could attract the attention of the Ministry of Energy and what are his current duties?
Who was nothing will become everything
The career of Petr Konyushenko can be described as ‘skyrocketing’. The future Aide to a Deputy Minister had gained experience in infamous Energostrim Holding well-known for its financial scams. Energostrim emerged as a result of the large-scale privatization of the power industry during the reformation of United Energy Systems of Russia Russian Joint Stock Company. The holding beneficiaries have placed a bet on power supply companies that became intermediaries between major market players who had privatized power generation stations and end consumers of power. The holding was created as a financial pyramid: Energostrim had acquired power supply companies in the Penza, Ivanovo, Bryanks, and Orel regions. Then these companies started purchasing power supply companies in other regions. In total, the holding used to control 22 power supply companies with the total revenue of 170 billion rubles ($3 billion) as of 2011.
Such large-scale operations require good connections in the industry. There were no outsiders in Energostrim. Valery and Andrei Shandalov were the beneficiaries of the holding. Its General Director was Yuri Zhelyabovsky having friendly relations with Sergei Shmatko, then-Deputy Minister of Energy. Former United Energy Systems of Russia employees Tatiana Muromtseva and Tatiana Bondareva were deputies of Zhelyabovsky. The first one used to be the Head of the Department of Economic Planning and Financial Control of the United Energy Systems of Russia, while the second one had been preparing United Energy Systems of Russia assets for the privatization. Petr Konyushenko neither had such connections nor experience – but he had compensated this with frenzied activity and ultimately became the Executive Director of Energostrim.
Initially Konyushenko was the General Director of Penzaenergosbyt, and his role in Energostrim schemes was simply technical. The young man had displayed initiative and siphoned off 150 million rubles ($2.6 million) from Penzaenergosbyt accounts for the benefit of the Shandalov family. The funds had been transferred to Skat company controlled by Optima Group in accordance with a loan agreement. The loan had never been paid out because the debtor was quietly liquidated, but Konyushenko has advanced up the career ladder.
Upon becoming the Executive Director of Energostrim, Petr Konyushenko had rushed to justify the high confidence. In his new status, Konyushenko went to Germany to supervise the transfer of funds siphoned off from Tulaenergosbyt Open Joint Stock Company to German company TelDaFax. In total, TelDaFax has received from the Tula-based power supplier 5.4 billion rubles ($94.6 million). The funds have been embezzled using the smoothly-running loan scheme. In that period, Konyushenko has demonstrated a supreme ability to cover up his traces. The illegal withdrawal of funds from Tulaenergosbyt accounts had been discovered pretty soon, but all the blame was put on some “ unidentified persons”.
Konyushenko returned to the Motherland and continued his operations; he managed to rob regional power supply companies not only for the benefit of the Shandalov family, but for his own good as well. For example, being the General Director of Tverenergosbyt, he had signed another loan agreement for 200 million rubles ($3.5 million) with Finart Company. The funds were cashed out in Dagestan (apparently, Konyushenko himself was the beneficiary in that scam), while the debtor has ‘paid out’ its loan to the power supply company with promissory notes. Tverenergosbyt creditors had desperately tried to prosecute Petr Konyushenko – but in vain: the time-tested loan scheme was running like clockwork.
The complicated loan chains between companies – members of the holding have become the signature style of Energostrim. In the end of 2011, multibillion loans of regional power supply companies have angered President Vladimir Putin who noted that Energostrim had transferred 25 billion rubles ($438.1 million) to offshore territories. The investigators have charged Muromtseva and Bondareva with larceny of some 700 million rubles ($12.3 million). Taking the official post of Konyushenko, the majority of the embezzled funds have been siphoned off through him. The total debt of Energostrim to its creditors was much higher than the above amount.
The top managers of Energostrim have promptly understood the situation and fled to London; all efforts to extradite Zhelyabovsky, Muromtseva, and Bondareva from the UK were in vain. Deputy Minister of Energy Mikhail Kurbatov has resigned voluntarily shortly after this; €11.5 million have been found on his account in a Cypriot bank – the funds were generously transferred by Bryanskenergosbyt controlled by Energostrim. Only father and son Shandalov and Petr Konyushenko, humble Executive Director of Energostrim Holding, have come off unscathed.
From swindlers to statesmen
The complicity of Petr Konyushenko to Energostrim operations that can be named ‘the scam of the decade’ was very beneficial for his career. The Ministry of Energy has appreciated his talent to do the job without leaving traces – the gifted manager was appointed an Aide to a Deputy Minister of Energy (reportedly to Vyacheslav Kravchenko) and concurrently the General Director of AtomEnergoSbyt Joint Stock Company. Konyushenko has got down to the new business with the same enthusiasm.
Petr Konyushenko has shown frenzied activity in relation to Khimprom strategic giant – apparently, he is trying to deal the final blow to the troubled enterprise as soon as possible. It is necessary to keep in mind that Khimprom has started experiencing financial issues after the disbandment of United Energy Systems of Russia Russian Joint Stock Company. Contrary to promises of Anatoly Chubais, hydro rates have increased, and the indebtedness of Khimprom skyrocketed. Then Volgogradenergosbyt controlled by Energostrim at that time has filed numerous claims against Khimprom – and this was the beginning of its bankruptcy. Interestingly, Vladimir Kuznetsov, ex-Deputy General Director of Energostrim for Legal Matters, was a representative at the Khimprom creditors’ meeting.
As soon as Konyushenko has got a chair in the Ministry, he immediately recalled the former colleague and their work techniques. It did not take long to see the result. In 2015, Khimprom Volgograd Open Joint Stock Company has signed an agency contract entitled “Ad-Khimprom-1” with VEB Engineering company. This contract has made it possible to siphon off some 90 million rubles ($1.6 million) from the bankruptcy estate. It is necessary to note that the contract had been approved by Petr Konyushenko who was a member of the interdepartmental workgroup created with the purpose to save the enterprise. A criminal case has been instituted against the insolvency administrator – while Konyushenko still holds his post. A few months after the publication of information about “Ad-Khimprom-1” contract, a representative of Renova Group has suggested that the Ministry of Industry and Trade should deprive Khimprom from the strategic enterprise status with a noble purpose to sell it in parts. In particular, Renova Group was interested in acquisition of Khimprom equipment.
The job of Konyushenko is almost done. The only outstanding task is to destroy AtomEnergoSbyt Joint Stock Company. This is a key enterprise of Rosenergoatom Concern Joint Stock Company and the guaranteed supply company in four Russian regions. In the recent years, the company has been facing serious issues. Back in 2014, AtomEnergoSbyt had generated some income, but in 2015, losses of the last resort provider have almost reached its charter capital. The corporate web site does not provide accounting reports for the year of 2016. Taking the past service record of Konyushenko, the General Director of AtomEnergoSbyt, the grim future of the enterprise can be forecasted easily.
The prosecutors want the former Russian Federation Council member to go to prison for 14 years instead of 9 and pay a 500-million-ruble ($8.8 million) fine instead of 70 million rubles ($1.2 million).