‘Parking king’ Aleksander Kupchin occupies Moscow and region
A Moscow businessman patronized by authorities has developed a multi-step ‘occupation’ scheme to seize parking lots. The CrimeRussia unveils details of this scheme.
In the end of April, a video has leaked to the Internet showing an organized group of raiders seizing the parking lot near Vershinino residential complex located on Elektrolitny drive. They used traumatic pistols, concussion grenades, and smoke pellets. Policemen had stayed 10 meters apart doing nothing. According to the officers, this was a “dispute of business entities” and they could not interfere. As a result of this ‘dispute’, several cars belonging to persons opposing the raiding takeover were set on fire.
In the news report about the ‘dispute’, journalists of Vesti TV channel have noted that this was neither the first such incident, nor tenth, and not even hundredth. According to Vesti, some 300 parking lots have been seized in Moscow in such a way. Businessman Aleksander Kupchin, owner of numerous real estate companies, was named the mastermind behind the mass seizure.
The CrimeRussia has performed an inquest into the operations of Kupchin to figure out how the businessman is monopolizing the parking market of Moscow and the Moscow region without encountering any resistance.
Methods from the 1990s
The father of the parking raider was well-known in a narrow circle Anatoly Naumovich Kupchin. Many experts name Kupchin senior the founder of the recruiting industry in Russia – he has established Kontakt (Contact), the first domestic recruiting agency. Prior to his, he used to work in the real estate industry.
Kupchin senior engaged his son into the family business. In an interview dated 2002, Aleksander Kupchin, then-Director of Agentstvo Kontakt (Contact Agency) Management Company Closed Joint Stock Company, had shared his personal experience in the real estate management in Moscow.
However, in 2012, Aleksander Kupchin has switched to the parking industry. Currently Kupchin is the owner and director of more than 30 companies specializing in the lease and usage of parking lots. All these structures maintain ‘friendly relations’ and sign contracts for protection services and legal support with each other.
Companies of Aleksander Kupchin
Most companies belonging to Kupchin were ‘spotted’ in raiding takeovers of parking faciltities in Moscow and the region. Their methods are pretty standard: representatives of structures controlled by Kupchin ‘occupy’ a parking lot – sometimes peacefully, sometimes (as it was on Elektrolitny drive) with beating of the security guards and barricading inside the gatehouse. After consolidating the gains, the intruders considerably raise the parking fees.
This story went public in February 2012: TransLogistic Management Company had raised the monthly garage maintenance fee from 3,800 rubles ($66.5) to 6,500 rubles ($113.7) for residents of Nizhegorodskaya street, Novorogozhskaya street, Rogozhsky Val, and Kovrov lane. No justification for the price hike was provided to the people. But Anton Labzin, an employee of the company and friend of Kupchin on Facebook, had threatened that should the previous management company refuse to vacate the premises peacefully, the parking lot would be taken by force. On February 21, 2012, representatives of TransLogistic and Aleksander Derevyanko, Head of the Administration for the Central Administrative District of Moscow of the Garage Construction Directorate State Unitary Enterprise, had a meeting with residents of the building located at 4 Kovrov lane. During the meeting, it turned out that the state unitary enterprise had chosen TransLogistic to manage the garage on the basis of some tender. None of the people present at the meeting were aware of this tender. Representative of the company–winner were unable to provide its dates and terms. Furthermore, TransLogistic was established a few days prior to the beginning of the alleged tender.
Meeting of the residents with representatives of TransLogistic Limited Liability Company
The video shows two representatives of TransLogistic: above-mentioned Anton Labzin claiming to be the Manager for the Central Administrative District of Moscow and some unknown man claiming to be the Executive Director. The unknown person can also be found among the friends of Kupchin on Facebook – it is 32-year-old Stanislav Kazakov.
Later TransLogistic has carried out its threat. On May 21, a group of young men of Caucasian appearance with sledgehammers have stormed into the parking lots located at 4 Kovrov lane and 7 Rogozhsky val. They broke into the guardhouses and forced the security guards out. Municipal Deputy Ilia Sviridov had interfered and the situation was settled – although not for a long time. Ultimately the company has occupied the parking lot on the basis of the above-mentioned contract signed with the state unitary enterprise. However, the residents managed to keep the garage maintenance fee at 4,200 rubles ($72.9).
With TransLogistic, the condition of the garages has deteriorated considerably. In addition, an illegal car wash service was launched in the parking lot. The residents had requested to terminate the contract with the company, and eventually their voices were heard. The structure controlled by Kupchin has been replaced by another structure... also controlled by Kupchin – Mosparking Closed Joint Stock Company (former Pchelka (Bee) Closed Joint Stock Company). The question how a private company could add to its name the prefix “Mos-” indicating ties with the Moscow Government remains unanswered.
The residents managed to freeze the fees until November 2015, but upon the arrival of the new company, the struggle against price hikes has resumed. Mosparking requested to raise the monthly fee to 5,800 rubles ($100.7). A letter from the Head of the Garage Construction Directorate State Unitary Enterprise permitting Mosparking to raise the fees arbitrarily was provided to the people as a justification.
Residents refusing to pay the new fees were not allowed into the parking lot; concrete blocks or barriers were installed in front of their parking spaces. 10–12 powerfully built persons have occupied the garage; they were booting out residents, treated them roughly, and often used force. In front of cameras, they were hiding their faces or putting on masks. The subsequent inquest has found that two security guards had criminal records, while the others had repeatedly committed administrative offences.
Leaping ahead, it is necessary to note that the episode in the Tagansky district is only one out of many. The Internet is full of video records showing Kupchin’s people seizing parking lots a la ‘the turbulent 1990s’. The raiders staged a full-scale assault on Nikitskaya street: dozens of unknown people have got over the fence, beaten the security guards, entered the parking lot, and barricaded inside.
Methods used by raiders
The ‘army’ of raiding companies has already appeared in suburban Zelenograd. Local parking lots are coming under the control of Stroy-Parking and Bel-Avuar-Invest belonging to Kupchin. Traditionally, the new owners started illegally leasing out parking spots. Stroy-Parking was fined for the administrative offence, but the court has annulled the penalty because “ the outlined circumstances are not supported by documents”.
Kupchin has established good connections in Khimki as well. In spring 2017, Dmitry Alekseevich Kaigorodov has become a Deputy Head of the Municipal Entity. Then it turned out that Kaigorodov has ties with structures belonging to Kupchin.
The new Deputy Head of Khimki used to work in Tsenturion, Temir Trans Group, and Zhilekspert – now these companies successfully seize various parking facilities in the city.
Special mention should be made of the above-noted Directorate for Construction and Usage of Garage Facilities of the City of Moscow State Unitary Enterprise also known as Garage Construction Directorate State Unitary Enterprise.
The Garage Construction Directorate gained notoriety for the failure of the ‘people’s garages’ project. Contrary to its name, the project was not about full-size garages, but about parking spots on multi-storey car parks. The ‘people’s garages’ program had spectacularly failed for the first time back in 2010 – only 3 facilities out of the 182 projected ones were built in four years (i.e. less than 2%).
In 2012, the Garage Construction Directorate had taken on the revived project. The funds were provided by Moscow residents, Construction Department of the City of Moscow (the charter capital of Garage Construction Directorate was increased by 8 billion rubles ($138.9 million)), and Bank of Moscow (a loan of 3.3 billion rubles ($57.3 million)). Prices on the parking spots had started from 350 thousand rubles ($6.1 thousand). However, it turned out in a couple of years that the program is stalled again. People were not interested in so expensive parking spots.
Based on its accounting reports, the financial policy of the Garage Construction Directorate is a failure as well. In the end of the 2015, its net loss was 829 million rubles ($14.4 million).
During the six years of its existence, the Garage Construction Directorate had acted as a defendant in almost 500 lawsuits; out of those, 230 lawsuits for the total amount of 1.4 billion rubles ($24.3 million) were lost. According to Focus.kontur.ru, the indebtedness of the state unitary enterprise as of the end of 2015 was 33 million rubles ($572.9 thousand).
In May 2016, several bankruptcy claims were filed against the Garage Construction Directorate – the institution owed over 300 million rubles ($5.2 million) to its contractors and creditors, while the shared construction investors did not receive over 3.5 thousand parking spots.
Since its creation, the Garage Construction Directorate has been paying special attention to the structures belonging to raider Kupchin. In February 2012, this state unitary enterprise has gained control over all the parking facilities in Moscow, and shortly after that, companies of Kupchin launched an ‘offensive’ on dozens of parking lots.
Based on the list of governmental acquisitions of the Garage Construction Directorate, Kupchin is a very reliable partner. This list includes almost all companies belonging to the raider and mentioned in criminal news in relation to illegal takeovers:
Dyuna Parking – 2 contracts signed for the total amount of 506 thousand rubles ($8.7 thousand);
Kompozit-Terminal – 7 contracts signed for the total amount of 17,858,630 rubles ($308.7 thousand); 4 tenders won for the total amount of 9,765,243 ($168.8 thousand);
Bel-Avuar-Invest – 3 tenders won for the total amount of 13,300,545 thousand rubles ($229.9 thousand);
Ergostroy – 20 contracts signed for the total amount of 6,353,980 rubles ($109.8 thousand);
Developmen-Invest-Group – 7 contracts signed for the total amount of 15,446,865 rubles ($267 thousand); 2 tenders won for the total amount of 13,102,882 ($226.5 thousand);
TransLogistic – hasn’t won a single contract, but participated in 10 tenders together with Mosparking;
Avto-Maksimum – 3 contracts won for the total of 2,862,202 rubles ($49.5 thousand);
Intek Group – 12 contracts signed for the total amount of 26,393,675 rubles ($456.2 thousand);
Business Real Estate Department – 91 contracts signed. It is necessary to note that the price reduction in most such contracts was 100%. Obviously, Kupchin won’t work for free, but the actual cost of the contracts remains unknown;
Mosparking – 15 contracts signed for the total amount of 49,807,668 rubles ($860.9 thousand);
At a conservative estimate, the Garage Construction Directorate has awarded parking usage contracts for the total amount of some 200 million rubles ($3.5 million) to companies controlled by Kupchin. At the same time, these structures are continuously raising parking maintenance fees for the residents. It is impossible to track the money collected from people – so the companies may receive funds both from the citizens and budget, and their main job is to chase up debts from those unwilling to pay artificially high fees.
A notable detail: initially parking facilities were transferred to structures belonging to Kupchin on the basis of some tenders ‘not attended by other bidders’ (in fact, the information about these alleged tenders was never publicized), but later the Garage Construction Directorate started signing contracts with companies controlled by the raider on a sole source basis – i.e. officially awarding the contracts to Kupchin without any tenders.
The official web site of the Garage Construction Directorate states that “the Moscow Municipal Center for Sales of Nonresidential Premises (Mosrealstroy) Open Joint Stock Company is the authorized dealer of garage facilities”. In other words, Mosrealstroy sells parking spots in the Russian capital. This company belongs 100% to the Department of the Municipal Property of the City of Moscow but is managed by the Administration of Experimental Development of Micro-Districts Joint Stock Company. The Administration of Experimental Development of Micro-Districts is a subdivision of Mosinzhproekt construction holding controlled by Albert Suniev, right hand of Moscow Vice Mayor Marat Khusnullin. Suniev is the General Director of the Administration of Experimental Development of Micro-Districts and Deputy General Director of Mosinzhproekt. According to Focus.kontur.ru, contracts for the total amount of 180.5 million rubles ($3.1 million) have already been awarded to Mosrealstroy.
Media state that Suniev managed to incorporate the Garage Construction Directorate into the Mosinzhproekt structure – i.e. the Garage Construction Directorate is now subordinate to the holding management. After the incorporation, the previous Head of the Garage Construction Directorate has been replaced by Damir Talipov, ex-Head of Bank of Kazan. Talipov and Kupchin are friends on Facebook – which is pretty logical for the long-term and reliable partners. Another interesting detail: financial operations of the Garage Construction Directorate are audited by Kompania Auditor Stolitsy ( KOMPAS) (Auditor of the Capital Company) Limited Liability Company founded by three natives of Tatarstan – Ruslan Tazeev (he had graduated from the same university and faculty as Khusnullin), Natalia Gilmutdinova, and Elena Prosvirina – and responsible for the audit of virtually all structures under the auspices of Suniev.
“The City builds”
In August 2016, a session of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation dedicated to raiding takeovers of parking facilities has been held. Several important statements have been made at this session.
A representative of a homeowners association struggling against occupants of their parking lot told that a swindling criminal case was initiated in spring 2016 against officers of MEK, one of the largest companies belonging to Kupchin. According to the speaker, police operatives had performed a search in the MEK office in the framework of that criminal case and seized the documentation and other evidence, including the original seal of the Garage Construction Directorate – the seal affixed on contracts signed by the state unitary enterprise. We have no access to the case file, but this information seems pretty believable. Why go somewhere to sign the contracts that can be officially formalized in your own office? Especially taking that the winner is predetermined from the very beginning. Unfortunately, that criminal case was not finalized – a retired police colonel working for MEK managed to close it promptly.
The close ties between the Garage Construction Directorate and structures controlled by Kupchin can be illustrated by another example: representatives of the Garage Construction Directorate and parking management companies were invited to the session of the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation. The list of participants included some Oleg Borisovich Kopylov. This person is well-known to residents of buildings attacked by the raiders – he had repeatedly spoken at court sessions examining complaints against the raiding takeovers of parking facilities. He had always represented either the Garage Construction Directorate or Mosparking in courts. But he was invited to the session of the Public Chamber as a lawyer representing Mosparking and Business Real Estate Department. In documents available on the Internet, Kopylov is referred to either as “the Deputy General Director for Legal Maters of MEK Limited Liability Company” or “ the Head of the Legal Department of the Garage Construction Directorate State Unitary Enterprise of the City of Moscow”.
Dmirty Khramov, the current General Director of the Garage Construction Directorate, has also confirmed his personal knowledge of the ‘parking king’. He provided a few interesting details to Rossia 1 TV channel. When asked how could the structures controlled by Kupchin win maintenance contracts for all the parking facilities in the city, Khramov responded as follows: “I think that he probably has some resources to enter and win these tenders”. It is unclear though what kind of resources – administrative, etc. – did the General Director mean. When asked whether he knows Kupchin personally, Khramov has admitted – after a short hesitation – that he had communicated with the businessman.
General Director admits that he knows Kupchin personally
All the above facts suggest the existence of a major corruption scheme enabling the raiders, who collaborate with the authorities and enjoy their patronage, to seize all the parking lots in the city. Residents have been struggling with the occupants for more then five years already, but this fight seems interminable.