The defensive business of Igor Kesaev
The oligarch, surrounded by servicemen, has created a reliable "back area" for himself with the "right" connections and advices of how to conduct business properly. It is possible, that the same forceful crime-sponsored cover could have assisted him in organizing the military production’s trading channel.
Plant named after Dyagterev (PND) – a leading Russian defensive enterprise, which produces an armament for the Air Force, Navy and ground forces of 17 different countries of the world – has become a center of a great scandal. According to the CrimeRussia information source, the first deputy director general of PND Lipsman David Lazorovich was recently put on the wanted list for the case of international sales of 9M133 missiles of the antitank long-range weapons system Kornet-E. The information concerning Lipsman’s case (art. 222 para. 1 of the Criminal Code of Russian Federation) is posted on the official web site of the Nizhegorodskiy region court. At the same time from the person familiar with the matter, the CrimeRussia learned that the owner of the defensive enterprise Igor Kesaev is directly connected to the Russian strategic studies’ sale transaction.
Plant named after Dyagterev entirely belongs to conglomerate Mercuriy, the president and owner of which is Russian oligarch Igor Kesaev. His private fortune amounts to $3 billion, according to the Forbes issued June 2015. Kesaev’s business empire includes the largest tobacco retailer conglomerate Megapolis, retail network Diksi and a large developer Merkuriy Development. Besides that, the oligarch is known as an owner of Merkuriy City Tower - one of the highest skyscrapers in Europe.
After the tobacco production disposal enriched Kesaev, he gradually started to purchase different companies in other segments. It is remarkable, that his first acquisition beyond the tobacco market was a purchasing of controlling stakes in two enterprises of the Military-industrial system (MIS): Kovrov Mechanical Plant (KMP) and Plant named after Dyagterev. However, according to some media, Kesaev very nearly saved PND from illegal seizure – in 2002 it was officially announces by the Vladimir region’s bureaucrats. Thus Irina Tabakova, ex-mayor of Kovrov city, told mass media that "to somehow solve the problem, PND’s director general Aleksandr Tmenov asked his landsmen from Vladikavkaz for help. And that is how Igor Kesaev occurred on the factory".
At the same time ex-employees of the factory’s security thus described the situation:
"Well, it was strange, of course, that an owner-driver comes to a factory, which produces products of crucial importance marked "top-secret", - told back then ex-security man.
Coincidence or a system?
The scandal with the 9M133 missiles of the antitank long-range weapons system Kornet-E sales – is not first in the history of the factory. Thus in August 2003, BBC Russia announced that special services of USA, Great Britain and Russia maintained a joint operation, during which they managed to prevent an attempt of smuggling of Russian shoulder-fired air defense system Igla into USA. Those systems were produced at PND. In the interview to BBC Russia, Lipsman, who then was working as a main engineer of PND, told about the system of supplies’ control. According to him, Iglas are being delivered only to the Ministry of Defense of Russian Federation; there are no private or interplant supplies in the regulations.
"It is almost impossible to buy something from the factory or to conclude a contract. Owner-drivers go directly to the factory with all supplies questions. However, the factory does not have a license for trading activity and all such questions are being solved through the governmental agent Rosoboronexport", - told Lipsman.
Video: antitank long-range weapons system Kornet-E in process
Joint-stock company Rosoboronexport, a part of Rostech corporation, is the only governmental intermediary specialized in import/export of all final production, technologies and services designed for military and double purposes. Thus it is announced on a web site of the military intermediary. However, according to the CrimeRussia information source, PND with the participation of Igor Kesaev, organized a parallel underground channel of distribution of the defensive production. Among other things, bypassing Rosoboronexport, the entrepreneurs established sales of the 9M133 missiles of the antitank long-range weapons system Kornet-E. To estimate its power, you can watch the presentation video presented above. It is unknown, where exactly the military production is being supplied, but you can easily suppose, that in the weapon’s final destiny it reaches some of the many today’s flash points. PND’s production has already been duly appreciated in many countries of the world.
In 2005, when Igor Kesaev became an owner of the factory, there was an opinion, that he will consider his newly minted asset as something secondary, but today it is clearly not so. It is obviously profitable to trade Russia’s defense industry, which is highly sought all over the world. It is especially profitable, when the sales go under the cover of ex-officers of the Russian Federal Security Guard Service (FSB) and ex-employees of the Ministry of Defense of Russian Federation and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russian Federation (MIA).
Among the servicemen
Increasing his financial power, the oligarch also developed an important connections sphere in security and power agencies. According to rumors, he has been close with current and former officers of the special services for a long time.
For example, in 2006, in losing money year (at that time PND lost 120 million rubles), the factory’s court of directors approved the initiative of the general director, who decided to transfer 180 million rubles to the national non-commercial foundation Monolit, the president and one of the founders of which is Igor Kesaev. After receiving the "charity support" in 2006 Monolit foundation bought a Sochi health resort n.a. M. V. Frunze for 185 million rubles on the Russian Federal Property Fund’s auction.
Monolit is a Kesaev’s brainchild, created in 2003 "for the support of economical, medical, social and cultural needs of Russian FSB officers, who are in strong need due to the transfer to reserve, and to the members of their families".
In 2003 Monolit signed a basic agreement with FSB for providing financial support. In terms of this agreement, Kesaev started to buy up flats in different parts of Russia for FSB’s needs. The post of an executive director came into then retired colonel of FSB Vladislav Petrov, who in 2011 held important positions in group of companies Merkuriy. Thus he headed a court of directors in the joint-stock company Turboholod, which sells an equipment for gas production to Gasprom. According to the company’s reports, 57% of Turboholod are held by public limited company Konsensus-R, which in turn is controlled by Igor Kesaev. Besides this, Petrov headed a court of directors of the health resort, gained by the foundation. Among other members of the court, there was Viktor Patrushev – a brother of the Security Council’s secretary Nikolay Patrushev, who headed FSB from 1999 to 2008.
The reason for such a reverential attitude, expressed in sponsoring of former and current servicemen, is not known, but the Igor Kesaev’s connection with the highest ranks of Russian FSB can be also proved by other examples.
Thus in summer 2015, journalists from the Novaya Gazeta during their investigation discovered that all the heads of the Russian FSB are dollar millionaires. The servicemen managed to gather a fortune after the "golden land" with the health camp for KGB (Committee for State Security) employees’ kids passed into the owner-driver’s hands. In 2005 the land parcel with the camp was passed to a communal property of the Odintsovo district by the order of then Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation Mikhail Fradkov. In November 2005 based on the results of the public hearings, it was decided to change the use of the land parcel so it would be allowed to build cottages on the land. In early 2004 the land was given in an uncompensated fixed-term use to a non-commercial suburban partnership (NSP) Kalchuga 4. According to the Novaya Gazeta, the founders of the partnership were high-ranking FSB officers – Sergey Doronin (at the late 2014 – the head of a financial and economic administration of one of the FSB’s services) and Sergey Kachushkin (his last position in special services – "deputy of the head of the independently managed central offices of FSB").
The 4,98 ha received by the NSP were cut on 22 plots and passed on to the highest ranks of FSB. Later all 22 plots were sold to Aleksandr Kobzev and Fatima Biragova – representatives of Igor Kesaev’s group of companies Merkuriy. According to several sources, FSB generals sold their plots to the oligarch for at average 100 thousands dollars for one hundred square meters. At the same time, in the interview to the Novaya Gazeta, Kobzev claimed, that a practically simultaneous buying-ups of the land from the Russian FSB officers is a coincidence.
At that time, Igor Kesaev was looking for a land in the Moscow region for himself. At one point information occurred, that there is such land. Whereas at that time we did not know, who owned the land, we were just focused on the object, which is possible to obtain. We learned about the object from a realtor agency, which represented the interests of the land’s owners", - said Kobzev.
Can we also call a coincidence that fact, that there are ex-servicemen working in Merkuriy? According to the Novaya Gazeta, an ex-deputy director of FSB Vladimir Anisimov is working in Merkuriy group as a senior vice-president. He also is a member of a PND’s court of directors. Besides Anisimov, there are many ex-servicemen working in the Kesaev’s company, as the newspaper claims. However, Kesaev’s connections lie far beyond the FSB. Former high-ranking politicians and the Ministry of Defense employees are also working in his companies.
Thus, in 2010, the Kompromat announced, that Russian security officers helped Kesaev to capture alcohol factory KiN. A co-founder of KiN Armen Yegan wrote in his complaint to the Helsinkian Committee of the US Congress, that a group of power institutes’ employees assisted the oligarch in an illegal seizure of the Moscow Wine Tawny Factory KiN and in its arrest. According to Armen, from 2005 to 2008 the power agencies initiated several groundless checks of tax evasion, forcing KiN to enter into negotiations with Kesaev. These forced negotiations brought to an agreement, according to which Kesaev was to buy a governmental capital share of the company and some of the stocks of the other owners – in total 50% of all the stocks. According to Kartoteka, today Kesaev owns the stocks of the wine tawny factory through the companies controlled by him.
As we can see, former and current security officers and servicemen are indispensible attributes of Igor Kesaev. Kesaev surrounded himself by servicemen, and thus created a reliable «back area» with the «right» connections and advices of how to conduct business properly. It is possible, that the same forceful crime-sponsored cover could have assisted him in organizing the military production’s trading channel.
Crime Russia is watching the developments around PND.
Since early February, there has been a preventive operation of the National Police of Ukraine in cooperation with the border and migration services called ‘Migrant’. Its aim is to identify and expel thieves in law and foreign crime lords out of the country.