Fisherman knows a fisherman: New frame-ups and frauds pulled off by ‘fish king’ Orlov
Aleksander Tugushev is not the first business partner of Vitaly Orlov, owner of Norebo Holding, who has ended up in jail as a result of their joint affairs. Murmansk fishery magnate Yuri Tuzov has likely fallen victim to Orlov's unbounded ambitions as well.
While the London High Court of Justice is examining the lawsuit filed by Aleksander Tugushev, ex-Deputy Head of the Federal Agency for Fishery and co-owner of Karat Fishery Holding, against his former partner Vitaly Orlov, The CrimeRussia became aware of ties between the defendant and Yuri Tuzov, Head of Nord Pilgrim company, apparently resulting in his incarceration. Interestingly, 1.5 year ago, Tugushev was arrested because of his dispute with Orlov, and now Tuzov is languishing in the pretrial detention facility.
In late July 2018, the London High Court of Justice has frozen a portion of assets of Vitaly Orlov, owner of Norebo Holding, worth $350 million – this is how plaintiff Tugushev estimates the value of his portfolio in this company allegedly fraudulently seized from him by Orlov.
In the material about the dispute between Orlov and Tugushev, The CrimeRussia wrote about a weird session of the Koptevsky District Court of Moscow that has delivered in 2015 a judgement in favor of Orlov. The point is that Tugushev – the supposed plaintiff in that litigation – accidentally became aware of it a year later. He had no idea of lawyer Aleksei Dryndin allegedly representing him. Orlov hadn’t participated in the hearings in person as well – Sergei Golubev had represented his interests. Later the Moscow City Court has annulled the verdict of the Koptevsky District Court. An expert assessment performed as per Tugushev’s request has established that the power of attorney allegedly issued by him to lawyer Aleksei Dryndin and documents presented by Sergei Golubev, an attorney for Orlov, in court were fake. This implies that this entire litigation was staged in the interests of Orlov.
Next year, Tugushev, still shocked by such an impudence, became a suspect in a criminal case. Orlov accused the ex-partner of extortion and compulsion to complete a transaction (Articles 163 and 179 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). He provided records of telephone conversations where some Mualadi Dzhamaldaev, a native of the Chechen Republic, threatens to "break the legs of Orlov and his family" if he doesn't return the Tugushev's share.
Sergei Golubev, the fake ‘attorney' for Orlov, has somehow become a witness in this case – while detained Dzhamaldaev gladly told the investigators about his meetings with Tugushev and instructions allegedly received from him. He was unaware though that Tugushev was abroad at that time – entries in his travel passport confirm this.
According to our source, in March 2018, Golubev was arrested in relation to another Murmansk fishery magnate – Yuri Tuzov.
The story is as follows. For many years, Pavel Surin, Head of Translogistics–Moskva Limited Liability Company, had been trying to encash a promissory note in the amount of 400 million rubles ($5.7 million) due on July 23, 2011 issued in early 2011 by AFK Plus Limited Liability Company to Patrix LTD, the predecessor of Translogistics–Moskva. In 2012, Translogistics–Moskva requested Tuzov to discharge his financial liabilities – and a counterclaim was filed against it demanding to recognize the promissory note deal null and void because Surin had allegedly obtained this promissory note unlawfully.
In late 2014, the same Koptevsky District Court of Moscow (!), where above-mentioned Golubev had represented Tuzov, has recognized the promissory note invalid (decision of November 18, 2014). Translogistics–Moskva had to spend an entire year to annul that verdict. But this was not the end of the story – the litigation has relocated to the Arbitration Court of the Murmansk Region.
In June 2017, in the midst of the proceedings, Pavel Surin was abducted in Moscow by a group of Caucasus natives. For two days, the businessman was tortured and forced to sign documents confirming the absence of any claims against Tuzov. His basal skull, eye socket, jaw, and nose were fractured. After signing the required documents, the businessman was left by the bandits in a field with a bag on his head. The abductors have been caught shortly after the incident. One of them – 27-year-old repeated offender Visit Ingaev (Vakha) from Chechnya – has not only confessed to this crime but also named the mastermind behind it.
In December 2017, the attorneys representing Tuzov have yet again, seemingly ultimately, won the case against the company of Surin in the Arbitration Court of the Murmansk Region. And at that time, the fishery magnate was arrested and charged with masterminding an abduction (part 3 of Article 33 and Article 126 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). The court put Yuri Tuzov in Butyrka Pretrial Detention Facility – although his lawyers have presented Aeroflot documents confirming that Tuzov was flying in an aircraft at the time of his alleged meeting with the direct perpetrators of this crime.
Then, in June 2018, above-mentioned Ingaev has suddenly stated that Surin was never abducted – allegedly, this was just a frame-up, and he was supposed to receive 1 million rubles ($14.3) for it. Ingaev hasn’t specified though who had to pay this sum to him.
Ingaev explained the references to Yuri Tuzov made in the course in the investigation as follows: shortly after his arrest, a young female investigator of the Investigations Directorate for the Central Administrative District of Moscow of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR) and an operative of the Moscow Criminal Investigation Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation had allegedly told him that he must identify Yuri Tuzov as the mastermind behind the abduction. According to Ingaev, they had shown him a photo of the businessman and explained how he will be dressed and where standing during the identification parade. In exchange, Ingaev was allegedly promised a minimum sentence and possibly a monetary reward. The investigation is still ongoing and Tuzov remains in custody – his detention term has been extended again in late June 2018.
While he was languishing in jail, another criminal case has been instituted – according to representatives of Tuzov, the same ‘young female investigator’ had offered the Murmansk businessman to arrange his release under home arrest in exchange for 150 million rubles ($2.1 million). Should Tuzov refuse, she had promised to lay new charges against him under Article 163 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (extortion).
Later attorneys and confidants of Tuzov have received several more similar offers – and the requested amounts had varied from 2 to 800 million rubles ($28.7 thousand–11.5 million). The promised benefits had also varied – from the complete withdrawal of charges to regular ‘patronage' of high-ranked secret service functionaries. Otherwise, they had threatened to convict Tuzov for up to 20 years behind bars and prosecute the businessman's son, who was in charge of the family business in that period, for complicity.
Representatives of Tuzov have reported the extortion attempts to the ICR. It was decided to arrest the malefactors red-handed during the handover of the money – but they have sent an ordinary courier to the meeting. He was arrested – but the ‘young female investigator’ has resigned, and other extortionists still remain on the loose.
In the meantime, the documents signed by Surin under torture (or in the course of the frame-up) have been seized as material evidence. In addition to the abductors, seven other persons involved in this story have been detained, including a specialist in document forgery.
Office of Yuri Tuzov in Murmansk
The new case got stalled as well. The operatives had initially tried to charge a person who died in the course of the investigation and then a retained lawyer with masterminding the abduction. The Surin family continued receiving threats from some unknown people, while the businessman had to relocate amid fears for his life.
A comparison of the official information with data received from our source makes it possible to suppose that the above-mentioned ‘retained lawyer’ or the ‘specialist in document forgery’ was Sergei Golubev, an attorney for Orlov. Especially taking that, as The CrimeRussia wrote earlier, during the arrest of Golubev, operatives have seized fake documents, including those allegedly signed by Tugushev and presented earlier in the Koptevsky District Court. The current status of Orlov and pretrial restrictions imposed on him (if any) remain unknown.
Murmansk businessman Yuri Tuzov is a prominent fisherman. He is the owner of Nord Pilgrim incorporated in 1995, and a number of other companies: Arktikflot, SeaFood, Siyaniye Arktiki (Arctic Shine), Northern Fishery Company, a factory in Teriberka, etc. Tuzov is a member of the Russian Fishermen’s Union.
Lawyer Golubev is not the only link between Tuzov and Orlov. Apparently, the story of their relations, similarly with the story involving Tugushev, goes back to the 1990s. At that time, Murmansk fishermen had operated based on the “fish-for-trawlers” principle. In 1997, Norwegian company Ocean Trawlers founded by Orlov and Magnus Roth, came to the Russian market. At that time, foreigners had everything – money, modern fleets, and market channels – so the Russians just had to give them assess to the fish resources.
Now times have changed: Russian companies having modern fishing vessels can sell their catch at market prices. The exported fish can be sold either directly to foreign buyers or to special traders. The business empire of Orlov includes at least three such companies incorporated in the UK, Hong Kong, and Spain; a major portion of the exported fish is sold via these intermediaries.
According to the customs statistics, in the period of 2013–2016, Nord Pilgrim company belonging to Tuzov had sold the major part of its catch to Hong Kong-based Dragon Seafoods Limited.
Its final beneficiary can be found on the Internet:
The search engine provides the location and telephone of the company's manager – Swedish citizen Niclas Rydin residing in Hong Kong. Surprisingly, the same person is currently employed as the Sales Manager at Norebo Hong Kong and used to hold the same position at Ocean Trawlers.
It is necessary to note that last year, Norebo decided to rename all its trade structures outside Russia in the framework of their amalgamation under the Norebo brand. As a result, Ocean Trawlers Hong Kong Limited became Norebo Hong Kong Limited.
According to the registry of Hong Kong companies, Dragon Seafoods Limited belongs 100% to Three Towns Capital Limited also incorporated in Hong Kong. In 2006, it was founded by the Hong Kong branch of Ocean Trawlers belonging to Magnus Roth and Orlov in equal shares.
Excerpt from the registry of Hong Kong companies
It is not a crime to sell fish in Hong Kong. However, we have obtained a customs freight declaration of Nord Pilgrim indicating that Hong Kong was just a transshipment point, while the final destination of the fish were the Netherlands.
Customs freight declaration of Nord Pilgrim
It appears that Dragon Seafoods Limited was an intermediary between the seller and buyer. Why was it needed? Normally such companies are used to conceal revenues in Russia and siphon off the funds abroad. A Russian producer sells fish to an intermediary at artificially low prices – while the intermediary resells it to a third party at the market rates.
Since 2013, Nord Pilgrim has declared the sales of fish via the Hong Kong-based company belonging Orlov for the total amount of $16 million, including $14 million for the sales of cod and $2 million for haddock.
Exports of the Tuzov’s company via the Orlov’s offshore company, USD
In other words, Tuzov had exported fish via a company belonging to his alleged ‘competitor’ Orlov and likely siphoned off the revenues with his assistance. To verify this hypothesis, it is sufficient to compare the fish prices offered by the Tuzov’s Russian company to the Orlov’s offshore company with market rates.
According to the customs freight declarations, the fish was shipped to the Netherlands. Detailed information on imports to the EU countries is publicly available. We used the market prices on cod and haddock imported to the Netherlands in the respective months. The table below shows a comparison of export prices on fish sold by the Tuzov’s company to the Orlov’s company with market prices on the same products in the Netherlands.
Comparison of export and market prices
The underpricing values vary in the range of 8–33%. Taking the shipment volumes, this translates into several millions of dollars. Therefore, Dragon Seafoods Limited enabled Nord Pilgrim to save up to a hundred thousand dollars on a single deal in unpaid income taxes and export fees (cancelled only in September 2016).
Not only had Orlov received profits on the resale – but also gained additional control powers, even though indirect ones, over the Russian fish market. If it were a single company, it would get a double profit.
This very fact could attract the attention of law enforcement structures to Orlov. But the recent problems of Tuzov are also of utmost interest and may involve Orlov as well.
On the one hand, business methods used by Tuzov can't be considered crystal clean. A vivid illustration of techniques employed by him to win a litigation against a company he had owed money to is an episode dated 2014 and involving a representative of Translogistics–Moskva. Konstantin Konov, a lawyer representing the creditor, arrived to Murmansk to present to the arbitration court documents proving the unreliability of papers earlier submitted by the Tuzov's team – and a brazen attack was committed against him in full daylight. The assailants have wounded Konov with a traumatic pistol and seized from him court materials and the corporate seal. The law enforcement structures have quickly identified the perpetrators, organizers, and even instigator of this crime – but later the investigation has stalled and ultimately collapsed. In the course of the preliminary inquest, local criminal ‘authority' Ogurets (Cucumber) was named the organizer of the attack, while Tuzov was named the paymaster. The fish magnate was even detained for a short period of time – but then released without any official charges.
In this context, it is easy to believe that Surin was indeed abducted as per order of Tuzov. However, the confessions of the Chechen natives easily disproved by the facts, above-mentioned Koptevsky District Court, and involvement of lawyer Golubev imply a scenario similar to the case of Tugushev. It is necessary to add that the criminal case against Tuzov has emerged right in time. After all, he had plenty of time to arrange the abduction of Surin or put pressure on him in a different way – but the incident occurred five years after the Surin's requirement to repay the debt.
In fact, this may be not about the debt repayment at all. The companies of Tuzov are major players at the regional fishery market. They possess large catch quotas. According to recent estimations, the cost of a quota for 1 thousand tons of cod is some $6 million. Nord Pilgrim has a quota to catch 10 thousand tons of haddock and cod.
Perhaps, the collaboration between Tuzov and Orlov involving fish sales via Hong Kong was mutually acceptable up to some point. At that time, Orlov had no other choice – fishery is considered a strategic industry in Russia and foreign companies may not own more than 49% of shares in fishery enterprises. But then Orlov decided to focus his business interests on Russia, gave up his Norwegian citizenship, and, apparently, changed the tactics. The ‘fish king’ started purchasing competing companies en masse and entering new markets.
For instance, in 2011, he has purchased, jointly with Tugushev, ROLIZ Limited Liability Company from Sergei Dar’kin, Governor of the Primorsky Krai. In November 2011, they acquired Akros company, a major fishery player in Kamchatka. Shortly after that, the partners have purchased Murmansk Trawler Fleet (MTF) company, one of the biggest players in the Barents Sea, from Yuri Prutkov, former boss and business partner of Tugushev. The following companies were acquired in the next two years: Magadantralflot, Vostochny Bereg (Eastern Shore), and Sakhalin Leasing Fleet. Over $500 million have been spent on the consolidation of these assets. Then, in February 2013, Orlov has barred Tugushev from the holding management. In 2016, he has purchased the remaining assets of Norebo Holding from cofounders and became the sole proprietor of the largest fishery holding in Russia.
Norebo Holding is the largest holder of catch quotas in Russia – 437.8 thousand tons. It was established by Murmansk-based Karat and Norwegian company Ocean Trawlers belonging to Vitaly Orlov, Magnus Roth, and Aleksander Tugushev. Since November 2016, the Karat brand is not used in relation to the holding anymore. Its new name is Norebo. Currently Norebo Holding consists of 14 fishery companies operating in the Russian Northwest and Far East.
The relations between Orlov and Tuzov in the recent period are unknown – but in spring 2017, a lawsuit against Yuri Tuzov was filed with the Arbitration Court of the Murmansk Region on behalf of Nord Pilgrim Limited Liability Company to recover from him 400.2 million rubles ($5.7 million) in relation to his actions as the Head of AFK Plus Limited Liability Company that had issued a promissory note for the above amount. It is necessary to note that Tuzov and his wife are the sole proprietors of Nord Pilgrim.
According to experts, such actions may indicate an attempt of the founder to save his company from bankruptcy. In this particular case, Tuzov, being the owner of numerous companies, had, most probably, tried to save the valuable catch quotas possessed by Nord Pilgrim.
According to Article 56 of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation, the legal entity shall not be answerable by the obligations of its founders. If the company founder undergoes a personal bankruptcy, the court may seize his/her share in the charter capital. However, this rule is used only if the debtor has no monetary funds or marketable assets to pay out the debt. Therefore, by turning the blame on himself, Tuzov had likely tried to relieve his company from a debt of 400.2 million rubles ($5.7 million). However, the court has dismissed the above lawsuit.
So, the lawsuit has been filed – and several months later, Surin was abducted, thus, creating the worst possible situation for Tuzov. According to lawyer Marina Yarosh, after his arrest, some unknown persons immediately started offering the fishery magnate to buy his business for next to nothing.
The most important fact explaining why has this happened to Tuzov at this precise point in time is as follows: this year, the distribution of catch quotas in Russia for the next 15 years has begun (earlier, the quotes were allocated for 10 years). By now, all the applications have been received and lists for all fishery basins approved. The next stage involves the signing of agreements between the Federal Agency for Fishery and users allocating the quote portions for the period of 2019–2034.