How Anatoly Chubais was left without his estate
According to Forbes, the manager of the former family office of Chubais has registered his real estate at a cost about $40 million to himself.
Across the road from the well-known dacha (country house) of Boris Pasternak in settlement of writers Peredelkino, there was a field on which the poet liked to walk. This Pasternak’s field is now built-up with spacious country residences (see the map). As Forbes found out, the estate on the parcel next to Pasternak’s museum in village Peredelkino was constructed for head of Rosnano Anatoly Chubais and his wife screenwriter and director Avdotya Smirnova. The construction had begun soon after the wedding.
The huge house is standing completely ready but empty. The house, its parcel and other structures are seized. The owner of the real estate — the Swiss company SFO Concept AG, headed by young financier Ilya Suchkov. According to Mr. Suchkov, his company invested $50 million in the main house of 2656,8 sq.m, two guesthouses and other constructions. In June and July the creditors of SFO Concept, who lent the company $36 million, submitted several claims for a refund, one of which was accepted to consideration in court. The largest creditor – the O1 Trust Services ltd company of a billionaire and a friend of Chubais Boris Mintz, which at the beginning of 2012 lent SFO Concept $22,9 million.
What is SFO Concept? "For a long time it was family office of Chubais, the company which managed his assets, – says a source close to one of the creditors. – After the law entered into force [prohibiting officials to own foreign assets – Forbes] Mr. Chubais sold the company to Ilya Suchkov. Credits of Boris Mintz's structures were registered to the company, because Chubais just needed money for a house construction. And, at some point, Suchkov understood that he was a happy owner and the CEO of the company which owns a land parcel and almost built house, and decided to play to it".
Young financier Ilya Suchkov has another version. “The house in Peredelkino village was initially an investment project of SFO Concept, - he says, - it was on 50% financed from the company’s own funds. Anatoly Borisovich was going to purchase it, but then, probably, changed his mind. While Boris Iosifovich [Mintz – Forbes] liked the house so much that he decided to buy it and because of it initiated all this legal prosecution”.
“It is a complete nonsense! – a source close to Chubais complains, - The house was built by the order of Chubais to the needs of his family”. According to him, not only credits were spent on the house’s construction but also own means of Chubais, firstly for the account of realization of the property, belonging to him from the balance of SFO Concept and after the vending of the company he was adding his own money. In general, it is much less than $50 million, the interlocutor of Forbes insists. If the creditors seize the house, Chubais can buy it, said the source, but now taking into account all current situation he considers its acquisition inexpedient.
Young financier from a good family
The area of the house with all constructions was one and a half times bigger than the previous country estate of Chubais in located near Moscow Zhavoronky (according to the tax declaration for 2010, it is registered to his ex-wife Marina Vishnevskaya). However, representatives of Mintz declared that O1 Trust Services tries to return the money and makes no attempt to take possession of the house. “The situation is banal – the owner of SFO Concept dose not return the money it took for the construction of the house and decided to dispose of it at his own direction”, - said the eldest son of Mintz, Dmitry, head and co-owner of O1 Properties in his interview to Forbes.
Ilya Suchkov comes from a family well familiar to Chubais. His father, Vasily Suchkov, worked with the current head of Rosnano, his older brother Igor was Chubais’s adviser in the State Property Committee for 17 years. Chubais's acquaintance told that Igor had many ideas – from investments into network of dental clinics to a construction of the cottage settlement on the bank of the Ikshinsky water storage basin. He called his brother Ilya, who in 2010 headed SFO Concept, to manage projects in real estate.
According to Ilya Suchkov, the company stopped being only family office quickly enough and diversified business – it began to provide consulting services, helped companies, working with securities to attract clients, for commission charges. Suchkov remembers that he spent two days a week in Switzerland, three — in Moscow and discussed affairs with Chubais once a year.
In 2013 Russian officials were forbidden to own property abroad. Anatoly Chubais sold SFO Concept to Ilya Suchkov. The deal was real, not fictitious, say the participants. However, according to the documents on purchase, presented by Suchkov, Chubais did not left control over the company at once.
Under the terms of the agreement, Suchkov should have paid a large amount of money, $28 million, with deferred payment for SFO Concept, approximately as much the company allocated to finance the house in Peredelki. As an interim measure, Suchkov signed an agreement on termination of the contract of purchase without specifying date, which Chubais could use almost at any moment. A year later, the parties concluded a new agreement on refusal of interim measures and completion of calculations at a new price of $152 000, defined in the report of the appraiser (slightly less than the share capital to the amount of 200,000 Swiss francs). Suchkov said that part of the money he took from parents, part landed and part added from his savings.
A source close to Chubais insists that the deadline for payments for the SFO Concept has not come yet, at the same time the transaction price is significantly above the share capital and Suchkov still has not paid the money. “The SFO Concept company belonged to me for some time, - Anatoly Chubais confirmed to Forbes, - In 2013 I sold it to another person, so he would be engaged in the organization of construction of the house and attraction of financing. Further the house should have been passed into mine ownership. As far as I know, the company has violated a number of commercial arrangements regarding the funds raised, and apparently this was the reason for submission of claims against it from creditors".
“We had friendly relations”
According to Dmitry Mintz, SFO Concept delayed payments of a bill for $0.9 million, which repayment period came in 2013, but serious questions to Suchkov appeared only in December, 2015. “We discovered that Suchkov wanted to re-registered all the real estate of SFO Concept to himself, as to a physical person, without payment of credits, - outraged Mintz, - For us it means that he not only can not fulfill obligations, he even does not try to settle with us.”
Suchkov lays out a stack of documents in front of him in his cabinet – loan agreements in two languages, assessment reports. He admits that Boris Mintz’s structures credited SFO Concept. But from the agreement it is visible that that the largest unsecured loan from O1 Trust Services ltd for $15.5 million is subject to settlement only in April, 2022, besides it, it was issued not on the house construction, but on replenishment of current assets of SFO Concept AG. Another creditor Crizna Holdings ltd borrowed $7,5 million on all-corporate purposes in June, 2015 and is now seeking a refund in court. According to Suchkov, the Crizna company is affiliated with the Mintz, although representatives of the latter deny it.
It was implied, creditors say, that all credits would go to the construction of the house that Chubais would buy, and after that the company would repay the debt. However, they understand that the property sale will not allow Suchkov to pay off his debts – the current value of assets of SFO Concept is lower than the cost of the credits, and, by the creditors’ assessments, at the beginning of 2015 the company did not have equity capital.
Creditors do not exclude conclusion of settlement agreement with Suchkov, but so far the parties have not come to mutual understanding. Suchkov suggests purchasing from him the house at the price of $36,5 million, based on the report of an English estimative company, which name he does not specify. Creditors consider that urgent market value of the house with all constructions and the site is only $12,55 million, thus it was rated by company Knight Frank.
“Representatives of Boris Mintz are forcing to sell the real estate in Peredelki at a reduced price – at first they were giving $7 million, then $12 million that puts the company before threat of bankruptcy and brings the management of SFO Concept to criminal responsibility, - Suchkov said. – If Mintz gives away the property to Chubais at this price, it would mean assistance in legalization of income, because his official income does not allow to purchase a real estate object from SFO Concept at market value". He also believes that issuance of unsecured loans for ten years by Mintz can be just transfer of the money belonging to Chubais for legalization of a part of the income and to check it, Suchkov sent an inquiry to law enforcement agencies of Cyprus. According to calculations of Forbes, the official income of Chubais in 2010-2015 exceeded 2 billion rubles (see the inset).
“Let’s face it, the creditors are idiots. Trust degree to Suchkov was high and credit relations were not arranged brilliantly”, - says one of the financiers, who participated in financing of building.
“We could have had stronger position in court in case of a debt collection, if we have been engaged in financing of building as commercial, tough transaction”, - said Dmitry Mintz. “No one assumed that it was necessary to sort out the relations with Suchkov in court. In due time Chubais helped Ilya very much.” - Chubas’s acquaintance said. Suchkov considers that he does not owe anything to Chubais.
Suchkov won in Arbitration court of the Moscow region - the court refused to consider the claim of O1 Trust to SFO and the petition for arrest of assets, because decided that creditor did not prove communication between real estate objects and credit relations. However, the Bryansk Arbitration Court, where the second creditor addressed, the Crizna company, after all arrested the disputed real estate at the end of July. The court considered that it could be sold without the consent of the creditors – the parcel with all constructions is being sold on the Internet at the prices around 920-950 million rubles, though it is unknown, who is the initiator of these ads.
The judge also referred to the supplementary agreement to loan agreement, in which former trustee, who managed the SFO Concept’s real estate in Russia – LLC SFO Concept Consulting -, charged for the company. The agreement was signed by CEO of the company Sergey Krychenko – former security guard of Chubais, who worked as his assistant in RAO UES. It is told there that the guarantor is jointly and severally liable for the loan taken by SFO Concept to build the house in the village Peredelki. A separate item provides trial of matters of argument not in the London International Arbitration Court, but in Bryansk Arbitration Court.
“Supplementary agreement to loan agreement – pure falsification”, - outraged Suchkov, showing a copy of the document. According to it, the purpose of the credit changed, the choice of the Bryansk Arbitration Court is not motivated, at the same time, nobody has notified the borrower about the appearance of a guarantor. For Suchkov such turn was a bolt from the blue, according to him, he was on a friendly footing with Krychenko, though they also terminated the agreement on trust management of the real estate at the end of 2015.
In his petition for appeal Suchkov proves that his company has no delays on Crizna credit therefore the creditor has no bases for a debt collection. According to him, a month before the credit expiration at the end of October, 2015 Crizna assigned a debt of a certain Denian Limited (BVI) also affiliated with Mintz, and it, in turn, signed the document on forgiveness of a debt. “We initially agreed with Mintz that this debt will be forgiven, we had friendly relations”, Suchkov explained.
Why did Mintz presented several million dollars to the former company of Chubais and whether it actually happened, other participants of the case do not say. Rosnano representatives emphasize that this situation does not directly relate to Chubais anymore, as he left all the projects with participation of Suchkov. “The structure of ownership of Anatoly Chubais's assets meets the requirements of the Russian legislation, and all income is declared”, - says deputy CEO for external communications of Rosnano Andrey Trapeznikov.
Chubais has recently admitted in an interview to Forbes that he has a small family office, but he is not rich enough to get into the Forbes list. As modest in everyday life Pasternak, he could complain about vital difficulties by words of a great writer about his house in Peredelkino: “It was necessary to solve whether to take its [dacha], to monitor its completion, to dodge, get money …”.