Metallurgical plant assets stolen via offshore machination
The investigation into the theft of property worth 1.4 billion rubles from the TekhInvestStroy LLC has been finished. The company also owned a metallurgical plant. The investigation established that two of the co-owners of the Katton Ltd. offshore company, Alexander Rubtsov and Olga Evstafieva, aided and abetted by a lawyer Dmitry Krasikov, illegally sold the shares of a Cypriot company, which was the founder of TekhInvestStroy, to another firm. By doing so, they caused loss in the amount of 1.4 billion rubles to their former business partner Dmitry Ivanchenko. The defendants claim that their prosecution is instigated by the ex-head of the Main Directorate of the Russian Interior Ministry in the Central Federal District, Sergey Derevyanko.
The criminal case into theft of TekhInvestStroy LLC assets (art. 30 and art. 159 para. 4 of the Russian Criminal Code) was opened almost three years ago, in September 2016. The reason for that was the statement by Dmitry Ivanchenko, who owned a 47.5% stake in the offshore company Katton Ltd. Ivanchenko reported the illegal sale of shares, and said he had been deprived of his rights to manage the stake in Katton Ltd. Moreover, the latter also owned the Russian company TekhInvestStroy through a middleman firm Gustobravo.
The businessman claimed that his former partners Alexander Rubtsov and Olga Evstafieva (through Katton Ltd. all three of them managed a number of Russian entities involved in the production and sale of rolled metal products) attempted to steal his property. Namely, without his consent, they sold shares of a subsidiary Cyprus company Gustobravo Ltd.
As stated in the case, Alexander Rubtsov and Dmitry Ivanchenko, who owned 50% of shares at Katton Ltd, joined forces with the TekhInvestStroy LLC financial director Olga Evstafieva. Each of the partners gave Evstafieva a 2.5% stake in the offshore company. After a while, Ivanchenko and Rubtsov quarreled, and Evstafieva took the side of the latter. The Kompromat.ru website published a letter from a lawyer and a monitor at Katton Ltd, Andreas Petrou. In the letter, the lawyer warns Alexander Rubtsov and Olga Evstafieva that Dmitry Ivanchenko, together with his company's lawyer Larisa Pozhidaeva, plans to transfer the whole share capital to his name and thus become the sole owner.
In October 2013, the accused were arrested. After 4 months in prison, lawyer Denis Krasikov, who assisted them in transaction processing, made a confession and was placed under house arrest. Olga Evstafieva and Alexander Rubtsov refused to plead guilty and were held in jail until November 2014. After that, they were also placed under house arrest.
Rubtsov and Evstafieva are confident that Ivanchenko acted under the patronage of Sergey Derevyanko, who at that time held the post of Head of the Main Directorate of the Russian Interior Ministry in the Central Federal District (Sergey Derevyanko was released from office on May 5, 2014). The defendants even stated this in their address to the Head of the Russian Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin. Dated 2013, their statements mention that since the mid-90s, Sergey Derevyanko and Dmitry Ivashchenko had regular contacts, backed by equally regular payments. By the beginning of 2013, those payments were estimated at 15 000 USD per month. The defendants clam that Derevyanko invited Rubtsov and Evstafieva to a meeting in his office to acquaint them with Dmitry Kondrashov - the ex-member of the Alfa special unit of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), and a current member of the Public Council under the Main Directorate of the Russian Interior Ministry in the Central Federal District. Derevyanko hinted that the two can avoid any problems if they transfer the assets to Ivanchenko. Since the end of May 2013, the management of Katton’s Russian subsidiaries have been receiving calls from the Main Directorate of the Interior Ministry in the Central Federal District (namely, from certain R. Kurnik and V. Silantyev) with the demand to appear for questioning, to provide information and documents relating to the companies’ activities.
However, in April 2015, during the examination of the preventive measures, it was revealed that the number of volumes in the case practically doubled - from 85 to 153. As a result of this scandal, the Moscow City Court refused to extend the arrest for the defendants and issued a special ruling to the investigators. The court warned them that it was unlawful to combine "familiarization of the defendants with the materials of the case" with "legal investigation, or collection of evidence for it." The investigators had two choices: they could either reduce the case-file to the previous volume, or reopen the investigation and "complete the formation" of new volumes. The Investigative Department of the Interior Ministry chose the second option. In June 2015, the investigation was resumed.
The businessmen still disagree with the charges, and their lawyers say that the case has no evidence of illegal transactions with shares. The defense also argues that the case contains records of negotiations with former business partners. These conversations prove that the decision to eliminate Dmitry Ivanchenko from the list of TekhInvestStroy actual beneficial holders and to conclude an agreement on the purchase and sale of Gustobravo shares was made at the meeting of the beneficiaries in April 2013, by a simple majority of votes, all according to the Katton statutes and Cyprus legislation. Besides, the case contains testimony from the president of Gustobravo, Alkmini Pantazi, and the lawyer of Katton, Andreas Petrou. Both reject the fact that any crimes may have been committed against their companies, and confirm that the deal with the shares corresponded to the laws of Cyprus. The defendants’ lawyers note that for some reason the investigation chose not to cross-examine Pantazi and Petrou. Also, the lawyers state that there are no documents in the case, which could confirm that Dmitry Ivanchenko was indeed the owner of the shares at Gustobravo and TekhInvestStroy.
In turn, Dmitry Ivanchenko insists that the sale of shares was carried out illegally. Additionally, the case files refer to similar transactions for the sale of shares in two other offshore companies associated with the ownership of Metallokomplekt-M Closed Joint Stock Company and North-West Pipe Plant LLC. The beneficiaries of these companies were also Alexander Rubtsov, Dmitry Ivanchenko and Olga Evstafieva. In the near future, they may become defendants in yet another criminal case.