Detained oligarch Shukin loses influence and assets amid raiding takeover of Inskoy Pit
The affairs of once-successful coal magnate Shukin are taking on an ugly look. His confessions against the Head of the Investigations Directorate of the ICR in the Kemerovo Region have not affected yet charges laid against him and his status in the criminal case related to a billion-ruble extortion in Kuzbass. Furthermore, former business partners started winning lawsuits against him. Moscow-based businessman Ruslan Rostovtsev managed to convince the court to seize assets of Shukin in the course of a legal battle related to coal mines and mutual loans.
A corruption scandal related to the attempted extortion of the controlling block of shares in a coal enterprise went public on November 14, 2016. On that day, searches have been performed in offices and residences of some top-rank Kuzbass officials. The following persons were arrested in the framework of the criminal case related to the extortion of 51% of shares in Razrez Inskoy Joint Stock Company: two Vice Governors Aleksey Ivanov and Aleksander Danilchenko; Yelena Troitskaya, the Head of the Department of Administrative Structures of the Administration of the Kemerovo Region; coal oligarch Aleksander Shukin with his confidant Gennady Vernigor; and General Sergey Kalinkin, the Head of the Investigations Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR) in the Kemerovo Region. Currently, only the Head of the Investigations Directorate in the Kemerovo Region remains in custody – his detention period has been extended until April 13, 2017 – while other suspects are under home arrest.
In disfavor of Shukin
While Shukin remains under home arrest, his business is sustaining losses. In particular, courts of the Novosibirsk region and Moscow have seized accounts and assets of the Kuzbass businessman for the total amount of 533 million rubles. His former business partner, Moscow-based entrepreneur Ruslan Rostovtsev, managed to convince the court to impose arrest on the assets of Shukin in the course of a legal battle related to coal mines and mutual loans. Earlier, the Cypriot court had frozen assets belonging to Rostovtsev in the amount of 6.7 billion rubles in the framework of lawsuits filed by Shukin against the Moscow businessman.
Moscow-based Taldinskaya Management Company Limited Liability Company belonging to Ruslan Rostovtsev manages Taldinskoe-Kyrgaiskoe Mine Administration Joint Stock Company and Taldinskoe-Yuzhnoe Mine Administration Joint Stock Company operating in the Kemerovo region. Each of these enterprises mines 1.5 million tons of thermal coal per year in southern Kuzbass. In 2015, the revenue generated by Taldinskoe-Kyrgaiskoe Mine Administration was 1.9 billion rubles, while the net profit was 6.5 million rubles; the revenue of Taldinskoe-Yuzhnoe Mine Administration was 1.7 billion rubles, while the net profit was 39 million rubles.
Up until 2015, Aleksander Shukin and Ruslan Rostovtsev were partners in the coal mining business operating on the basis of Taldinskoe-Kyrgaiskoe Mine Administration and Taldinskoe-Yuzhnoe Mine Administration. However, since the last year, the businessmen have been waging legal battles over once-joint assets and loans given to each other. In particular, Aleksander Shukin demands a half of shares in Taldinskoe-Kyrgaiskoe and Taldinskoe-Yuzhnoe mine administrations that together produce over 3 million tons of thermal coal per year. Experts estimate the two portfolios of shares at some 1 billion rubles. On October 24, 2016, the Arbitration Court of the Kemerovo Region started examining the lawsuit filed by the Kuzbass businessman against Antratsit Treid Limited Liability Company and requesting to transfer to him 50% of shares in Taldinskoe-Kyrgaiskoe and Taldinskoe-Yuzhnoe mine administrations. There are 275 shares in the charter capital of each company; 170 of these shares belong to Taldinskaya Mining Company Limited Liability Company, while 100 shares belong to Antratsit Treid owned by Ruslan Rostovtsev. The lawsuit filed by Shukin is based on the “protocol of approval for actions of shareholders of Taldinskoe-Kyrgaiskoe Mine Administration and Taldinskoe-Yuzhnoe Mine Administration” produced in November 2011. Aleksander Shukin and Ruslan Rostovtsev are the shareholders mentioned in this protocol. According to the document, Rostovtsev had to “make legal arrangements to transfer 50% of shares in the mine administrations to Shukin by January 1, 2014” – but he failed to do this. Ruslan Rostovtsev is the ultimate beneficiary of the defendants: he owns 99.9% of shares in Antratsit Treid Limited Liability Company and 99% of shares in Taldinskaya Mining Company Limited Liability Company. Nine years ago the disputed mine administrations were managed by Rosa Holding Limited Liability Company that has announced in August 2007 their sale to Aleksander Shukin and Valentin Bukhtoyarov (at that time, both of them were Vice Presidents of Sibuglemet, a Novokuznetsk-based coal mining holding). In 2011, Aleksander Shukin has announced that Valentin Bukhtoyarov does not co-own these assets anymore, and his new business partner is Ruslan Rostovtsev. In the beginning of 2015, it became known that Taldinskoe-Kyrgaiskoe Mine Administration and Taldinskoe-Yuzhnoe Mine Administration are managed by Taldinskaya Management Company Limited Liability Company, while the former partners have engaged into legal disputes. A month later, the Arbitration Court has delivered a judgement not in favor of Shukin and dismissed his claim for 50% of shares. The court has upheld the position of Rostovtsev who managed to convince everybody that he never had any written arrangements with the plaintiff in relation to the shares in Taldinskoe-Kyrgaiskoe and Taldinskoe-Yuzhnoe mine administrations.
Ruslan Rostovtsev, former business partner of Shukin
Claims of the Moscow businessman against his Kuzbass colleague – under which, a precautionary attachment was imposed on assets of Shukin – are mostly related to the repayment of 310 million rubles. In October 2008, Aleksander Shukin had transferred this sum to Ruslan Rostovtsev. Shukin considered this a loan, while Rostovtsev – a gift to his wife. Together with the accrued interest, this amount has increased to 610 million rubles by spring 2016, and the Second Instance of the Court of General Jurisdiction in Moscow not only has recognized it a loan but also ruled to collect 504 million rubles from Rostovtsev. However, according to the Moscow City Court materials, in July 2016, Ruslan Rostovtsev has appealed this decision, and the matter was remitted for a new examination. Then Rostovtsev has been granted the right to recover the money, but Aleksander Shukin did not repay it. Ultimately, the Presnensky District Court of Moscow has satisfied the claim filed by Rostovtsev requesting to grant interlocutory injunctions and freeze assets of the Kuzbass oligarch for the total amount of 504 million rubles.
Another claim of Rostovtsev requesting to grant interlocutory injunctions in the amount of 17 million rubles to secure the interest accrued on the 504 million rubles has been satisfied by a district court of Novosibirsk. The same court has satisfied a similar claim for interlocutory injunctions filed by Moscow-based Energoservis Closed Joint Stock Company. According to the case file, this company is affiliated with structures controlled by Rostovtsev via its General Director Elena Stebeneva and founder Natalia Gubernatorova – both of them are employed with Taldinskaya Management Company. According to the loan agreement signed with Energoservis, Aleksander Shukin still owes it 11.85 million rubles.
A typical raiding story
According to the investigation, in July 2016, general Sergey Kalinkin, the Head of the Investigations Directorate of the ICR in the Kemerovo Region, acting in the interests of the above-mentioned Vice Governors and Shukin, had initiated a criminal case against Anton Tsygankov, owner of the controlling block of shares in Razrez Inskoy, and detained him for 48 hours. During this period, other accomplices had been putting pressure upon Tsygankov to force him to transfer the shares. Seven people from this group have been charged with extortion, while the ex-Head of the Regional Investigations Directorate has been also charged with exceeding of official powers. The investigation believes that he had put the most efforts to assist businessman Shukin in wresting the coal pit away from Tsygankov.
Aleksander Shukin owns Polosukhinskaya and Gramoteinskaya mines, Kuznetsk Diary Company, Tsentrprodservis Open Joint Stock Company, Uyzhkuzbassstroy construction company, car dealership chain in Novokuznetsk, and dozens of other enterprises in the Kemerovo region. A year ago, Shukin, with his personal wealth of $500 million, was valued the 189th richest businessman in Russia by Forbes.
At that time, Tsygankov had no real chances to withstand against the judicial system. Criminal cases related to non-payment of salaries are initiated in the region on a regular basis, and the scheme is running smoothly. With regards to the Inskoy coal pit, the investigation has promptly collected evidence that its management and shareholders had introduced, for the purposes of personal gain, procedures for mutual payments with contractors making impossible for the company to remit required payments to the budget and non-budget funds of the Russian Federation. As a result, a credit indebtedness exceeding 500 million rubles has accrued. Some 800 employees haven’t received salaries for more than two months. The mine had experienced difficulties with the launch of a new longwall. In the course of the mining operations, it was discovered that that the coal seam had a geological defect – a rock burst. Due to these circumstances, salary arrears started accruing since December 2015. Six month later, the miners started threatening to go on strike. Then the regional administration has interfered into the conflict and paid a portion of the salary arrears from a regional charitable fund. At that time, representatives of oligarch Shukin started coming to the mine under a specious excuse of saving the enterprise from bankruptcy.
On July 12, 2016, the press service of the Investigations Directorate in the Kemerovo Region of the ICR has reported that: “a criminal case had been initiated under part 2 of Article 201 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (abuse of authority, which has involved grave consequences) due the abuse of authority committed by managers and shareholders of Razrez Inskoy Joint Stock Company... The investigators of the Regional ICR Directorate have detained a shareholder of the organization owning the control block of shares... The situation at the enterprise has come to the attention of the Staff for Financial Monitoring of the Kemerovo Regional Administration. Governor Aman Tuleev had repeatedly addressed the law enforcement authorities asking to check operations of Razrez Inskoy Joint Stock Company”.
However, Novosibirsk investigator Anufriev, member of the investigation and operational team handling the extortion case, has preformed an in-depth review of the criminal case against Tsygankov and came to a completely opposite conclusion. It was determined that the management of the Inskoy pit had been taking all required steps to maintain the operations of the enterprise – which was unable to run its core activity, coal mining, due to objective technical reasons. The criminal case against Tsygankov and his arrest had been personally initiated by general Kalinkin without sufficient procedural grounds and with the sole purpose to use Tsygankov in the takeover of Razrez Inskoy shares. The Investigations Directorate in the Novosibirsk Region of the ICR has issued an order to dismiss criminal proceedings against Anton Mikhailovich Tsygankov initiated under part 2 of Article 201 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Abuse of Authority, which has involved grave consequences) due to the absence of a criminal act. Tsygankov has the right to rehabilitation and compensation of losses sustained due to the criminal prosecution. It is unknown yet whether he is going to commence lawsuits for the illegal arrest. According to our sources, being apprehensive for his life, the owner of the control block of shares in the notorious coal enterprise has relocated far away from Kuzbass.
Anton Tsygankov, owner of the controlling block of shares in Razrez Inskoy Joint Stock Company
In the meantime, the suspects involved into the corruption scandal continue making surprising confessions. For example, shortly after the seizure of his assets worth 533 million rubles and arrest, Aleksander Shukin has formally registered a voluntary surrender and confessed to donating in 2014 a BMW X5 car to Sergey Kalinkin, the Head of the Investigations Directorate of the ICR in the Kemerovo Region. According to the businessman, the ICR functionary had allegedly asked him for such a generous gift. The former law enforcement officer denies the receipt of the expensive gift and claims that prior to his promotion to the rank of general in December 2014 and reappointment to the position for a five-year term in February 2016, the special services had thoroughly checked his background and did not find any luxury cars in his possession.
The voluntary surrender of Aleksander Shukin was announced at a session of the Novosibirsk Regional Court examining the appeal filed by the defense of Sergey Kalinkin and requesting to annul the decision of the Tsentralny District Court of Novosibirsk to extend the detention period for their client until April 13, 2017. According to a letter from the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation added to the case file, in the end of the last year, Nadezhda Gobruseva, common-law spouse of the general, had allegedly planned to sell a BMW X5 car belonging to her family. The investigators have found that the expensive car belonged officially to Ekaterina Gobruseva, mother of the general’s common-law spouse.
Sergey Kalinkin, Head of the Investigations Directorate in the Kemerovo Region of the ICR
The retired lady had been working in a kindergarten for her entire life. Of course, in theory she could make savings and accrue 6.5 million rubles to make an expensive gift to her daughter – but this version is totally unrealistic. The car was taken from the dealership by Kalinkin – the employees have testified that the client driving away in the new BMW X5 was in general’s uniform. Furthermore, he managed to make a scene in the dealership because initially the vehicle had a wrong configuration. Employees of a service station visited by Kalinkin from time to time have also remembered him. Based on asset and income declarations of Kalinkin for the last three years, the investigator has reasonably concluded that the general could not legitimately purchase a BMW X5. According to a calculation performed by the law enforcement operatives, salaries of his relatives were also insufficient to buy such a car. Currently the BMW is seized. It is necessary to note that the asset and income declarations of general Kalinkin for the period of 2012–2015 indicate that he owns only a VAZ-2106 car built in 1999 – although no one had ever seen him driving it. The investigators are currently verifying whether the ex-Head of the Kuzbass Investigations Directorate had other executive-class cars in the past. According to Shukin, he had donated another BMW X5 to Kalinkin back in 2011. Searches for this car are ongoing. The long-term relations between the general and oligarch are also under scrutiny. Shukin is a native of Novokuznetsk and some of his businesses are still located there – while Kalinkin used to serve in the Prosecutor’s Office of Novokuznetsk for many years prior to the transfer to the Investigations Directorate of the ICR. The multiyear friendship between the businessman and law enforcement functionary might result in 15-year prison terms for each of them.
It is necessary to note that prior to the corruption scandal around the Inskoy pit and placement under home arrest, Shukin had managed to win cases in courts, including his legal disputes with the former Moscow partner. Apparently, the ‘lucky period’ is over for the Kuzbass oligarch. So far, he has been charged with extortion – although he had, in fact, created a criminal group involving officials and investigators serving his interests. It can’t be ruled out that in order to alleviate his guilt, Shukin makes new interesting confessions in the nearest future.