Defense team of Former Federal Fishery Agency of Russian Federation Head Tugushev launches a counterattack on Karat Group of Companies 

Defense team of Former Federal Fishery Agency of Russian Federation Head Tugushev launches a counterattack on Karat Group of Companies
Photo: CrimeRussia

New details on an attempted corporate raid of Karat keep emerging. The defense team insists there is a corporate conflict. Crimerussia.com learned that attorney Valery Parfenov filed a complaint to FSB Head Aleksandr Bortnikov complaining about actions of the case investigator. In his complaint, not only Parfenov claimed there was no raid but denied Tugushev participated in the previous lawsuit.

A conflict between the Karat Fishing Group of Companies owners keeps escalating. Aleksandr Tugushev’s attorney Parfenov filed a complaint to Bortnikov, as Crimerussia.com found out. In his complaint, not only Parfenov claimed his client has never tried to seize Karat but denied Tugushev filed a lawsuit to the Koptevsky District Court (Moscow) claiming he owned 33% of Karat and demanding $10 million in dividends in 2015 as well. Mr Parfenov insists his client did not file the lawsuit; the lawsuit and power of attorney given to Tugushev’s attorney to represent him in the civil case were fabricated. Moreover, the plaintiff and defendant’s attorneys may have been in cahoots.

Scam on trust

There is in fact the civil case № 02-4335/2015 in the Court archive; Aleksandr Tugushev filed the lawsuit against Vitaly Orlov. He disputed a perfectly legal stock sale executed under the UK law. The plaintiff claimed Orlov and his business partner Magnus Rot founded a general partnership. The stock was trusted to Orlov. The deal was executed under the UK law that allows one to execute such a deal by word of mouth (Partnership Act 1890, Trustee Act 1925, Trustee Act 2000). However, the UK law did not make a difference since Tugushev’s attorney Drindin A. U. did not introduce the Court to the documents he was referring to despite having to do this first off.

The Court dismissed the claim to pay Tugushev $25 million in dividends under the agreement for trust management of the partnership stock in 2003-2014. The plaintiff’s claim was based on billing documents. However, no one bothered translating them into Russian. It is worth mentioning that when interrogated in the framework of the investigation into stock extortion, Orlov mentioned that Tugushev was paid about $30 million. He said Tugushev was paid the money for purchased stock. However, it is unclear why he received the money in chunks over the period of several years; money transfers stopped only in 2014 despite the conflict between Orlov and Tugushev beginning to escalate in 2013.

Nonetheless, the Court applied the Russian legal principles; here, courts usually do not trust word of mouth. The Court dismissed all the evidence for existence of the partnership and trusted management as the results. It also did not allow indirect evidences presented by Tugushev. Orlov was well-prepared for litigation in Russia. He moved all the worthy assets of the Almor Atlantika Company out while Tugushev was in prison. Orlov indirectly confirmed doing it during the interrogation. The Norebo Invest Company owned by Orlov was the one to purchase the assets; it is liquidated as of today. It is worth mentioning that Katar, along with all its subsidiaries, was founded after Tugushev was incarcerated; Orlov is effectively the only owner of this “fishing empire” now.    

Investigation mysteries

But let’s get back to the remarkably odd behavior of Tugushev’s attorney during the trial. Drindin may have been in cahoots with Orlov’s attorney and may have used a forged power of attorney, according to current Tugushev’s attorney Parfenov. Tugushev did not even know about the trial. Parfenov backed his claims with an expert evaluation claiming the power of attorney, extracts from the Unified State Register of Legal Entities of the Russian Federation, and web-sites inspection record were forged. This allegedly proves Golubev and Drindin knew each other through their mutual acquaintance Sergey Zakharchuk.

Виталий Орлов

Head of Karat Vitaly Orlov

However, no one was able to prove it; someone may have deleted the information. Golubeb is in fact the Verkhovenstvo Prava Law Firm CEO; Sergey Zakharchuk and Vadim Baybuz are incorporators of the Firm. The two also work for the Firm’s affiliate Dzheynovi Law Firm. Verkhovenstvo Prava turned out to be a very ‘obscure’ company. It does not even have a web-sire. Alternatively, it may have been forethoughtfully deleted. In any case, even if the power of attorney was indeed forged, the fraud backfired: the Moscow Region Court later canceled the Koptevsky District Court’s decision simply because the case should have been referred to commercial court.

Golubev and Orlov now seem to be even more closely related while Drindin disappeared in the Interweb. Golubev is no longer an attorney working on a civil case; he is a witness in a criminal case now. He also seems to have forgotten about his triumph in the Koptevsky District Court and now claims he did not know Tugushev. In the meantime, Dzamaldaev M. D., another defendant, says he did in fact know him. It was Dzamaldaev who Tugushev ordered to threaten Orlov, according to the investigation. It is worth mentioning that Dzamaldaev claimed he met Tugushev in Russia to get the order when the latter should have been abroad. Tugushev proved he in fact was abroad by showing stamps in his travel passport; Dzamaldaev could not support his claims with any evidence.

The investigation persistently ignores the evidence the defense team presented. Moreover, court refused to opened a criminal case against Tugushev for committing the same offence (breaking the articles 163 and 179 of the Criminal Code of the Russia Federation) when Orlov filed a lawsuit against him. This would definitely result in the current criminal case being dismissed. However, court has yet to consider Parfenov’s request.

May we remind you that Tugushev was accused of tampered corporate raid of Katar in the end-2016. That is why he met the New Year placed under house arrest. At the end of January 2017, The Nagatinsky District Court (Moscow) ruled Tugushev will remain under house arrest until March 26. His defense team expected that and changed its tactics from defensive to offensive one.

Tugushev claimed he legally owned 33% of Karat’s stock when he was arrested for allegedly extorting them. Later the successful fishing industry entrepreneur told a ‘compelling’ story about his sudden urge to become a civil servant. It must be a coincidence that such a job gave him opportunity to interfere with the process of fishing quotas allocation. But such a move could raise suspicion. That is why he decided to seemingly leave the Almor Atlantika Company and pretend to sell his share to his business partner Orlov. The latter knew all the somber details. He turned out to be one good secret-keeper. Orlov still claims he did purchase the share.

Александр Тугушев

Former Deputy Chairman of the Russian State Committee for Fisheries Alexander Tugushev

It was not long before Tugushev was dismissed as the Agency Head. He was prosecuted for taking a $3.7 million bribe in 2006. After he served his sentence in 2009, he came to his business partner claiming back his profitable business he ‘trusted’ to Orlov. However, Orlov was not going to give it back much to Tugushev’s surprise. Orlov insisted Tugushev did in fact sell his share. That is when the conflict between the former business partners began. The conflict later turned into a criminal proceeding.

The investigation has only begun. There are many questions both sides are to answer. For example, let’s assume Tugushev tells the truth. Why did not he file a lawsuit then? He would have had a decent chance to win given his claims are true and he hired good attorney. Or maybe Tugushev filed the lawsuit himself but Drindin ruined his plans? One thing is for sure, Orlov does not really seem like a victim. Another thing is that he is not going to give way easily no matter what Tugushev has up his sleeve.

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