‘Local squabbles’ in Biysk. Law enforcement structures involved in raiding takeover of plant in Altai?
The Altai krai authorities launched a probe into the raiding takeover of Mechanical Plant Limited Liability Company in Biysk. Plant owner Valery Plotnikov accuses Andrei Enikeev, Director of Region Limited Liability Company, of forcible seizure of the enterprise with the involvement of law enforcement operatives. The captors claim that their actions were perfectly legal because the plant has been sold to Vadim Alekseev, a lawyer of Region Limited Liability Company, on a deferred-payment basis until 2020. According to representatives of Region, the director's powers of Enikeev have expired in summer 2017, and the enterprise is in litigation with him. An independent legal expert reviewed documents provided by the parties and concluded that Plotnikov has the law on his side. In the meantime, the mechanical plant seized by Region is on the verge of bankruptcy because the regional authorities have sealed themselves off from the corporate dispute. The CrimeRussia was sorting out the complicated relations between the conflicting parties. It seems that Alekseev and Enikeev enjoy ‘patronage' of some law enforcement functionaries and regional officials.
Mechanical Plant Limited Liability Company was established on the basis (in fact, on the ruins) of Biysk Chemical Plant that used to be a city-forming enterprise in the Soviet period. The plant had produced equipment for the military industrial complex; after the modernization, it successfully collaborated with ROSATOM State Atomic Energy Corporation, Uralmash heavy machine production complex, Siberian Power Generating Company (SIBEKO), etc. In 2011, the mechanical plant has won the All-Russia Enterprise of the Year Award. Since 2012, it has been a member of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Russian Federation.
The mechanical plant was restored from the ruins of Biysk Chemical Plant
In 2018, Biysk-based Region Limited Liability Company addressed Valery Plotnikov, Director of Mechanical Plant Limited Liability Company for 15 years, asking to lease some of its premises to it (Region Limited Liability Company was founded in 1998; 31% of its shares belong to NPK Altai Closed Joint Stock Company; the rest of the shares belong to the employees).
In October 2018, the parties have reached an agreement on the sale of 100% of the Mechanical Plant’s charter capital to Vadim Alekseev, a lawyer of Region Limited Liability Company, for 79 million rubles ($1.2 million) on a deferred-payment basis until 2020. According to Valery Plotnikov, an industrialist with 40-year-long experience, he got tired of managing the enterprise and decided to transfer it into safe – as he thought – hands. But then he realized that it was a fatal mistake.
Pledger Alekseev provided three promissory notes for the total amount of 29 million rubles ($453.6 thousand) as a prepayment; then he pledged additional 10 million rubles ($156.4 thousand). As a result, he had to make two more payments, 20 million rubles ($312.9 thousand) each, in fall 2019 and fall 2020.
Then Alekseev suggested to pledge holder Plotnikov to appoint Andrei Enikeev the Director of Mechanical Plant, and this was done. Shortly after that, the newly-appointed director has brought Region employees to the plant territory, thus, paralyzing its work. Plotnikov could not tolerate the destruction of his creation; he removed Enikeev from office, took charge of the enterprise, carried out an inventory, and identified losses in the amount of 6 million rubles ($93.9 thousand).
In the presence of law enforcement officers, it was established that Enikeev has removed from the enterprise some 20 Kamaz trucks loaded with ‘scrap metal ’ – i.e. machines, equipment, and raw materials. No criminal case was instituted because Enikeev has presented some ‘utilization acts’ – and the authorities concluded that he had the right to do so.
After that, Plotnikov has identified additional losses of 18.5 million rubles ($289.4 thousand). The total amount of the claim filed with the Arbitration Court of the Altai Krai is 24.8 million rubles ($387.9 thousand).
“Put private security guards on the floor”
Valery Plotnikov had no choice but to block access to the enterprise for Region employees. On January 22, a raiding takeover has begun. Interestingly, on that very day, the sale of Mechanical Plant dated October 5, 2018, was entered into the Consolidated State Registry of Legal Entities. In other words, the enterprise was transferred to Alekseev prior to the final payment – and Alekseev has immediately reinstated Enikeev as its director. According to Enikeev, Plotnikov refused to provide all corporate documentation to him – and this was used as a pretext for bringing Region employees to the plant territory.
The Region employees, led by Enikeev and Alekseev and supported by a SWAT squad, have stormed the mechanical plant a la the ‘turbulent 1990s’ – they broke locked doors with sledgehammers, opened safety boxes, seized all documents, and handed over to Enikeev. According to the police officers, the operation was authorized by the Directorate for the Altai Krai of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation. Enikeev claims that the SWAT troopers were summoned to frighten officers of Aleks Private Security Company guarding the enterprise: “They put private security guards on the floor in seconds in order to teach others not to resist the power”. Enikeev does not specify what was meant by “power” in that particular case.
According to Plotnikov, his complaints about the raiding takeover and multimillion losses submitted to all instances were ignored.
The situation is hushed-up, and this is understandable: Biysk Mayor Aleksander Studenikin and Yuri Zemsky, Chief Federal Inspector for the Altai Krai, consider the events occurring at one of the largest enterprises of the city “local squabbles”.
Biysk Mayor Aleksander Studenikin
Seaman Yuri Zemsky was appointed the Acting Federal Inspector for the Altai Krai in August 2017
Stance of Region
In the course of the conflict, it became known that co-owners of Region Limited Liability Company had tried to remove Andrei Enikeev from the director’s post as “an inefficient manager” for a while, and his director’s powers have expired back in July 2017. According to company’s representative Galina Mikhailova, Enikeev has forged a protocol of the meeting of founders reelecting him the director and continues ruling the limited liability company and putting pressure on its employees. Mikhailova claims that a criminal complaint against Enikeev was submitted to the law enforcement structures – but somehow, he was not prosecuted.
Based on the Consolidated State Registry of Legal Entities, Region Limited Liability Company has 25 cofounders; therefore, it is hard to imagine how could Enikeev pull off the protocol fraud and continue arbitrarily ruling the enterprise. Concurrently, he managed to implement some other business schemes. For instance, Enikeev has signed, on behalf of Region, agreements of purchase and sale of lands and real properties for the total amount of 30 million rubles ($469.3 thousand) with the mother of Vadim Alekseev (according to some sources, her name is Galina, and she used to hold a supreme position in the Biysk City Inspectorate of the Federal Tax Service of Russia). Some of these properties were put up for sale in accordance with the verdict of the Biysk City Court in the case pertaining to the indebtedness of Mrs. Alekseeva to Russian Agricultural Bank, while other assets were repossessed from her for debts. The regulatory bodies declined to register that deal. In addition, Enikeev had paid with Sberbank promissory notes for doubtful assets. Interestingly, according to the web site of the Director of the Year Altai Krai Award, Andrei Enikeev had won this honorable title in 2014.
Enikeev vs. Plotnikov: the ongoing conflict
In March 2019, the Head of the Investigations Department of the Administration for the City of Biysk of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation has recognized illegal the refusal to institute a criminal case under part 3 of Article 158 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (theft) in relation to the damages inflicted to the mechanical plant. However, the materials started circulating between the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR) and Prosecutor’s Office and haven’t resulted in a criminal case.
Enikeev claims that Plotnikov is not the legitimate owner of the Mechanical Plant. On the other hand, the lawyers representing Plotnikov claim that their client is its director and 100% pledge holder of its charter capital – i.e. the plant owner until the full payment of the purchase price under the agreement of purchase and sale.
Valery Plotnikov has filed a lawsuit with the Arbitration Court of the Altai Krai seeking to terminate the agreement of purchase and sale. However, the defendant opposes the agreement termination – although Plotnikov claims that the monetary funds have been returned in full.
In addition, the founders of Region Limited Liability Company demand Plotnikov to return the promissory notes for the total amount of 29 million rubles ($453.6 thousand) that, according to them, have been illegally withdrawn from their ownership and dispute the deals transferring the promissory notes to the mother of Alekseev in the Arbitration Court. Concurrently, Region is suing Enikeev.
In the meantime, Mechanical Plant is on the verge of bankruptcy – the enterprise has been effectively disemboweled. A number of its customers demand back their prepayments for breached contracts; some of them have already appealed to the court. The very existence of the plant is in jeopardy.
What about the authorities?
According to the Biysk Mayor’s Office, “the information about the conflict situation at Mechanical Plant Limited Liability Company has been submitted to the Administrative Service of Yuri Zemsky, Chief Federal Inspector for the Altai Krai. The Biysk Administration is closely monitoring the situation but has no authority to interfere in it”.
As said above, both Biysk Mayor Aleksander Studenikin and Chief Federal Inspector Yuri Zemsky consider the conflict at the enterprise “local squabbles”. It is unlikely that they take any steps to resolve the situation. According to Plotnikov, Mayor Studenikin refuses even to meet with him.
The regional government is also aware of the conflict between the economic entities over the mechanical plant. “However, the regional government is not entitled to regulate relations between economic entities; their disputes are governed by the civil litigation," – Aleksander Klimkin, Minister of Industry of the Altai Krai, has noted – apparently, implying that he is not willing to interfere in the situation.
Therefore, the team of Plotnikov hopes for the assistance and intervention of Sergei Menyailo, Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Siberian Federal District, and Viktor Tomenko, Governor of the Altai Krai. None of them had expressed their stance with regards to the existing situation yet.
Some media claim that Sergei Menyailo has allegedly interfered in the conflict – but The CrimeRussia found out that is not quite the case: last year, the Presidential Envoy was involved in the resolution of a similar dispute between Region Limited Liability Company and another enterprise having nothing to do with Mechanical Plant.
Sergei Menyailo, Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Siberian Federal District
Journalists of Novosibirsk-based Tayga.info news portal asked an independent legal expert specializing in corporate disputes to examine the situation. Evgenia Bondarenko, a Managing Partner at Novosibirsk-based Usconsalt Law Firm, reviewed the documents and concluded that Valery Plotnikov still remains the legitimate Director of Mechanical Plant.
“The Consolidated State Registry of Legal Entities provides no information on the replacement of director Plotnikov by Enikeev. Therefore, for all third parties, including the police and SWAT, only Plotnikov has the director’s powers. He had no obligation to provide the corporate documentation to Alekseev, while Alekseev and Enikeev had no right to storm the plant territory with the support of law enforcement structures and damage plant equipment,” – the lawyer says.
The expert in corporate disputes upheld the stance of Valery Plotnikov
“We have no doubt that the point of Plotnikov is going to be proven in court. But legal proceedings in the Arbitration Court last forever, and the legitimate struggle against the lawlessness is devastating for the enterprise, which is currently paralyzed,” – lawyer Svetlana Matveeva notes.
Valery Plotnikov and his employees celebrate the 15th anniversary of the mechanical plant
The only hope of industrialist Valery Plotnikov now is intervention of the federal authorities.