Former president of United Shipbuilding Corporation (OSK) Roman Trotsenko was cornered by investigators. Testimony against him has come from Ilya Novoselskiy, former chief of the legal department at OSK, who was accused of fraud involving assets of Northern Shipyard. His words in this case have not yet been verified. However, in another case on the misuse of billions of government-provided rubles, allocated by the decision of Vladimir Putin to Amur Shipbuilding Plant (ASZ), investigatos already have documentary proof. In particular, there is Trotsenko’s order to start the procedure for deliberate bankruptcy of the ASZ, which allowed to play around with the budget money.
Roman Trotsenko has extensive criminal experience, including some time spent in a detention facility in the 90s. Usually, when police forces show up on his doorstep, Trotsenko goes on a binge, then plays hide and seek, and just before the inevitable long term imprisonment he pulls out his money stash and solves the problem. We shall see whether this method will work this time as well.
When in October 2009 Roman Trotsenko was appointed president of OSK, a number of media published articles praising the new management of the corporation. Here is a quote from one of them: "All these high-profile events could end in bankruptcy and liquidation of the major shipbuilding companies and their subcontractors, had it not been for United Shipbuilding Corporation (OSK) that took the situation under its control. The state instructed the crisis management team within OSK to save the company and pull it out of crisis by means of management decisions only. There was no money planned to come in to rescue and develop the industry. Currently, OSK has been given control over the Baltic Shipyard, Proletarskiy Shipyard andAmur Shipbuilding Plant. The latter has already secured orders for 100 percent of its capacities, and, thanks to OSK, Proletarsky Shipyard will see an increase in orders for another billion rubles. The threat of bankruptcy perished, jobs are saved, and employees receive their salary all right." At the same time the article kept reminding that the fraudulent bankruptcy from which the new OSK leadership saved the shipyard would have entailed "serious consequences in the form of imprisonments and confiscation of property”.
Apparently, Trotsenko’s PR people who wrote the article had not yet been informed about the plans of their boss. Otherwise, it is unlikely they would have mentioned imprisonment that may come forth as the result of deliberate bankruptcy attempt and the fact that "there was no money planned to come in to rescue and develop the industry". ASZ received more than 5 billion rubles from the state, and when the money began to arrive, Trotsenko decided to start the bankruptcy procedure.
Even before the shipyard became part of OSK, the owners and top managers of the shipyard took out multiple loans and owed money to their subcontractor, all in all up to 35 billion rubles in borrowed or owed funds. Of these, 14 billion rubles was debt to Sberbank. On 3 December 2009 ASZ management talked by phone with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and reported the distressful situation of the shipyard. Putin promised that soon the shipyard would receive 1.9 billion rubles from the federal budget. However, he remarked that "the company is in debt and a simple transfer of funds to the accounts of the enterprise, even if meant to pay out employee wages, may lead to collecting of these funds by lenders and banks."
Trotsenko decided to deal with the ASZ debts, and he did it in a very peculiar manner. On 17 December 2009OSK president signed a contract with ASZ to change the borrower in the agreements between Sberbank and ASZfrom the shipyard to OSK. Simply put, the corporation has assumed all the debts of the shipyard before the federal bank and the shipyard now owed the money to OSK. This was done without holding a Board meeting, just by means of an arbitrary decision made by Trotsenko. Thus, the loan turned from being a bad debt into a goldmine. It is clear that the debt to Sberbank was no threat OSK since the federal bank would not bankrupt the company, whose fate was partly decided by Putin. Events that followed were even more amazing. In order to repay 14 billion of the debt the state transferred 11.5 billion rubles to Sberbank. However, for some reason the management forgot to follow up and cancel the debt of ASZ for this amount. That is, the money was allocated from the budget, but the shipyard still owed the same amount. It should be noted that after this relations between Trotsenko and Sberbank grew closer. In particular, the bank became the lender for other commercial projects by Trotsenko, such as building Federation tower in the center of Moscow City.
Just as easily Trotsenko decided to pay a Ukrainian company GIRS a total of 21.2 million rubles, allegedly owed to it by ASZ. The money was deducted from the assets of OSK.
So, what happened to the 1.9 billion rubles allocated to the shipyard by decision of Vladimir Putin? Once the money came to the shipyard, Trotsenko signed an order to return them to the accounts of OSK, under the pretext that the funds could be misused. Investigators will now determine what use Trotsenko found for the money. As for the distressed shipyard, instead of bringing in some real money the turnaround manager proposed to increase share capital by 1.9 billion rubles, which is still in process.
In 2011, the government decided that the next year it would provide ASZ with 3.2 billion rubles. Trotsenko immediately began preparations for receiving this tasty morsel. As law enforcement authorities later discovered, he gave a written order to JSC St. Petersburg Naval Machinery Bureau “Malachite” (part of OSK) to file a case .... against ASZ and thus initiate bankruptcy procedures. Fact is, in 2004 the shipyard owed the bureau 16 million rubles and the parties settled the matter peacefully. Trotsenko instructed the daughter company make the other daughter company bankrupt. This literally is a case of the deliberate bankruptcy, which falls under the correspondent article 196 of the Criminal Code.
The shipyard, however, knew nothing of such plans of the parent company. The management began to ask permission to pay the bureau. However, ASZ Board of Directors, which consisted entirely of people appointed by Trotsenko, including Ilya Novoselskiy, simply forbidden to repay the debt to Malachite.
On 22 December 2011, a month after the lawsuit was filed and a month before the 3.2 billion rubles came from the budget, Khabarovsk arbitration court satisfied claims put forward by Malachite. Foreign observers appeared at the shipyard. Budget fund would have already gone to a bankrupt company. As a result, 3.2 billion of the budget money came to OSK which was supposed to transfer the funds to the shipyard. But Trotsenko followed the same routine he used in 2009 for the 1.9 billion rubles. The shipyard saw no money. By the decision of the Board of Directors (that is, that of Trotsenko) the same amount of money was to be attracted through additional ASZ share issue, to be completed by 31 January 2012. Then the issue was suspended, then once again resumed, with a new date – 23 November 2012, etc. All these decisions were made by the Board of Directors, fully staffed by Trotsenko’s people, and the amount of budget funds that thus could be used for other purposes already exceeded 5 billion (a sum of 1.9 billion and 3.2 billion).
It is not surprising that after the work of Trotsenko’s anti-crisis team (since 2009) unallocated loss of ASZexceeded 14 billion rubles.
As a result, Khabarovsk Krai prosecutors turned to invesrigate the situation and requested all documents concerning the period 2009-2012, primarily those signed by Trotsenko. Prosecutor General joined the investigation, with the paperwork from ASZ and Malachite. Among them they found an order signed by Trotsenko instructing to initiate bankruptcy procedures against ASZ. The agency concluded that the state funds allocated to support the shipyard could have been used, to put it mildly, not exactly for what it was originally allocated (a more precise wording to be given by law enforcement agencies). And most importantly, despite the infusion from the budget, ASZ was made bankrupt on purpose, and loss increased by 14 billion rubles. A criminal case has been initiated.
This is not the first criminal case for Trotsenko. Telling about all of them would take too long, there is way too many. Let’s just see one example, when Roman Trotsenko even had to spend a month in a Moscow detention facility.
In 1994, at the age of 24, he established Platinum Bank in which he served as the Board chairman. A large-scale advertising campaign was launched immediately; the whole city was littered with posters with huge buffalo, the symbol of the bank. Now and then the media would publish positive articles about a young talented banker Roman Viktorovich Trotsenko. However, it soon became clear that the so-to-say talented banker built a very primitive fraudulent scheme. Platinum Bank took short-term loans from other banks, spent the money on the personal needs of the shareholders, and put it on paper as if the money was given out as loans to companies, at a higher interest rate. Then the right to claim debts from these companies under the assignment agreement passed from Platinum Bank to different fly-by-night entities never to be found. When banks began to demand the money back, Platinum told them that there is no money and offered to pick up the leftovers like foreign cars no longer used by the shareholders, unwanted land plots, houses, boats, etc. Shareholders used new loans to buy new likewise items. By the way, OSK shows how over the 13 years Troysenko perfected his at first primitive financial scheme, the principle of which is extremely simple: take and promise a lot, give nothing.
Mid 90s was such a time when banks preferred to stay away from law enforcement agencies and courts. To solve the problem with the debtors they complained to their protectors from the criminal world. And those in their methods would force the money back. No wonder that after Platinum defaulted on its first loan, Trotsenko first stopped coming to the office, and then avoided returning home. As follows from the archives of Moscow police, in the same period the talented banker began to hit the bottle. At least traffic inspectors detained him for drunk driving several times. Here are excerpts from several of these protocols:
Ank: Moscow traffic police 2007.04 and Supplement on nonresident citizens and Admimistrative offences 17 Jan 2010 driving regulations (12038251)
Request : request
Number of selected : 1
Output form number 0 is not in the database (null) (" person "). Issuance of the output produced by the form generated by default
System number: 7479273
Name: Trotsenko Roman Viktorovich
Year of birth : 1970
Full address : Altufievskoe Shosse 18, 181
Driver license: AVF184729
4 Feb 1995,42 – drunk driving
8 Dec 1994, 42 - drunk driving
In 1996 it was the time for Trotsenko to hide from the investigators. In February and March of 1996,Platinum Bank took short-term loans worth 2 billion rubles in Intellekt-bank and Alta-bank. Negotiations about the money were led by Trotsenko who, as it turned out later, presented a fictitious balance sheet of his bank, overvalued by 8 billion rubles. When soon (and it was soon since these were short-term loans) it was time to return the 2 billion rubles, the banks were offered illiquid assets instead of the money. For example, Platinum yacht, moored somewhere in Finland. Representatives of the two banks refused, after which they never found Trotsenko again.
Moreover, Platinum Bank even moved out of its office. In fact, the bank changed offices quite regularly. Then the bankers appealed to Moscow department for combating economic crime and economic crime fighters at the Interior Ministry. The agencies quickly found out that there was a scam and initiated a criminal case under Article 147 of the RSFSR Criminal Code, for fraud. Trotsenko resigned from the post of chairman ofPlatinum Bank (but remained a co-owner), set off on the run and was declared wanted. Operational-Search department was engaged in the search to catch the young banker. Its staff found that on 31 October Trotsenko would be at 34-a Zemlyanoi Val. An ambush there helped catch Roman Trotsenko. He was handcuffed and taken to a detention facility at the 29th police department. This is how the event was reported in 1996 by the police:
Solved: other Central epartment
29 police department
31 October 1996 during an ambush at
34 Zemlyanoi Val detained and sent to the detention center at 29 police department
Based on Art. 122 Criminal Code, 31 October 1996 Roman Viktorovich Trotsenko
Born in 1970 and registered at 18а-161 Altufievskoe shosse, Moscow
Former Board chairman of Platinum-Bank
Wanted under art. 147 part 3.
First Trotsenko was detained for three days, then the period of detention was extended to 30 days since the then legislation allowed to do this. And then suddenly the investigators released him. Trotsenko’s representatives explained this by saying that Roman Viktorovich presented papers that proved that there had been no fraud in the situation with Intellekt-bank and the other bank. What was not mentioned was that the papers were all with images of American presidents, ever so convincing.
In interviews Trotsenko tries to avoid speaking on the subject of his experience with the detention facility as well as talks about his work in Platinum Bank: "In 1995 there was an interbank crisis, the bank lost a lot of money. I owned a 27% stake in the bank and had to deal with debt restructuring. We managed to settle things with all the clients. However, it cost a whole year and all the money I had at that time".
Of course, Roman Viktorovich is exaggerating the money thing. No debts to the creditor banks were ever repaid; moreover, as early as next year after the arrest, Trotsenko used the money to buy Passenger Port and South river port.
Here is a brief summary of the activities of the young banker in Platinum Bank: the bank defaulted on loans to 23 banks amounting to over 35 billion rubles, and also participated in the theft scam of 20 billion rubles fromTatenergo. Before staging bankruptcy Platinum Bank used the proceeds collected from the scams for the purchase of Voskhod bank.. Bank Voskhod was soon renamed into Project Financing Bank. By the way, the banks belonged to Trotsenko and were involved in a significant number of criminal cases. But that's a whole other story.
OSK ex-president loses the best men
Roman Trotsenko fails to save the law firm Sameta - tax and legal advice from investigation
Aleksandr Bastrykin, Chairman of the Investigative Committee, took personal control over the St. Petersburg investigation in a case of embezzlement of 38 million rubles allocated to Northern Shipyard, part of United Shipbuilding Corporation (OSK). In the near future the investigators plan to bring charges against Dmitry Gromyko and Aleksey Mordovichev, the leaders of Sameta - tax and legal advice, where part of the funds allocated for the shipyard ended up. Mordovich and Gromyko are long-term business partners of OSK ex-president, Roman Trotsenko, who recently became primary suspect in the Investigative Committee investigation and who habitually refers to himself as the right-hand of Igor Sechin.
It was Trotsenko’s name in the case file that made Russian chief investigator Aleksandr Bastrykin take the case under his personal control. His subordinate, head of the Main Investigative Directorate at the Investigative Committee in St. Petersburg, Aleksandr Klaus promised that soon there would be more details in the investigation Mordovich and Gromyko have quite some facts to disclose. For over ten years they have been working with Federal Tax Service and arbitration courts to ensure they make decisions in the best interests of Trotsenko. Along the way, the founders of Sameta protected their own vital interests concerning large tax returns.
In addition to troubles with the Investigative committee, Gromyko and Mordovichev are now challenged by the Russian special forces. Turns out, a co-owner of Sameta is a Ukrainian politician Vladimir Vashko - one of the sponsors and organizers of Kyiv Maidan. Another business partner of Roman Trotsenko is Vladimir Antonov, a Lithuanian banker who is hiding from law enforcement in London and prefers to give interviews toUkrayinska Pravda, the internet voice of the self-styled Kiev authorities.
From lonely pensioners to business on VAT
In the early and mid 1990s, the current owner of Sameta Dmitry Gromyko was engaged in a totally different business. In 1995-1996, he signed a number of life estate contracts for apartments in the South-West of Moscow (including those on Miklukho-Maklaya street) to provide life-long support in exchange for inheritance of the apartment. How it works is you find a lonely elderly person, preferably an alcoholic, you promise the person a significant monthly increase in their pension, and in return he prepares documents to transfer the apartment ownership to you, their benefactor, after their death. This at least what the promise looks like. But in reality in most cases this happens quite differently. Usually soon after the contract is signed, the pensioner disappears or is sent to live in the barracks hundreds of kilometers away from Moscow, and his property is sold by the benefactor, so to say.
Apparently, due to the nature of this business Gromyko faced serious problems with alcohol in the 1990s. At least, at that time police detained Dmitry time and again for drinking in public places (often on Mantulinskaya street) and drunk driving. In 1996 his license was taken away from him for a year for that matter.
When a man finds himself in such a difficult situation, who comes along to help out? His parents. Dmitry’s father, Petr Semenovich Gromyko, is a prominent scientist who, together with his colleague Dmitry Pasechnik, created a unique system of gas injection that is used in various industries. Initially, Petr Gromyko helped his son get a job in Russian Metal Exchange, and then in the trade company Sovkabel. Then the two families established GIG Engineering. The company dealt in implementing gas injection systems. Dmitry was offered a job in the entity.
However, Dmitry used the knowledge that he gained while working for the metal exchange not exactly in the proper way, to put it mildly. In the late 1990s, Gromyko met businessman Aleksei Mordovichev who advised entrepreneurs on tax optimization in the Moscow region. The two met at the same time when tax returns grew into a criminal business, coupled with the theft of huge amounts of money from the budget. This was where it all started to go big.
They have established dozens and dozens of firms (most noteworthy among them would be such limited liability companies as Mettransekspo, Transmetimpeks, and Impeks Guarantor), which began to take an active part in the schemes to obtain hundreds of millions of rubles from the budget on the pretext of VAT refunds.
An excerpt from Russian tax police statement shows most vividly how successful the first co-creation by Gromyko and Mordovichev was:
"The scheme of illegal VAT return on export of nickel cathodes manufactured by Norilsk Nickel was used by several organizations: Tsvetmetekspo LLC, Transmetimpeks LLC, and Mettransekspo LLC, whose supplier wasTrading House RT, buyer was Norimet Ltd.., agent was Interrosimpeks CJSC, and Trans Logistic Consult CJSC was the customs broker ...
All payment transactions between the suppliers (resellers) of the products were conducted in a single day and in one bank, indicating the absence of payment for products and VAT to the vendor.
Bank statements and payment orders in case materials prove the fact that the parties used banking cash flow transactions as in a vicious circle thus only creating the appearance of payment for goods or services to the supplier."
However, no matter how determined the Federal Tax Police was in trying to prove that Gromyko and Mordovichev used their firms for illegal schemes of VAT refund, still tax authorities and arbitration courts had always taken a decision to return VAT amounts to the entities of the two businessmen. It is no secret that running the VAT return business is not possible without the support of senior tax officials and judges in different regions of Russia. By the early 2000s, the level of income Gromyko and Mordovichev had allowed them to receive such support to a virtually unlimited extent.
How VAT business turned into Roman Trotsenko business
In 2002 VAT return business had become so large that it required a private law firm to manage it. This is how Sameta and many of its daughter companies were born. All of them were located in the same office building on Strastnoy Boulevard. The same address was registered as legal address of dozens of companies involved in the VAT return schemes, including Transetimpeks and Mettransekspo, founded predominantly by offshore entities.
In the office building there was a special room used as storage for constituent documents of offshore companies, as well as dozens of empty sheets with signatures of their management (in case you need to urgently draw up a document). This once led to serious hustle for Gromyko and Mordovichev.
In 2005, Transmetimpeks was expecting another large amount in tax return from the federal budget. However, the general director of Transmetimpeks sneeked into that special room and stole the founding documents of the offshore company Globex Limited that owned 100% in Transmetimpeks, and blank forms signed by Globex Limited General Director. With these documents, he gave Transmetimpeks over to another offshore entity and the true owners of the company thus never saw the money. Gromyko and Mordovichev had to use a lot of connections in courts and tax authorities to regain control of Transmetimpeks.
Given the connections that Gromyko and Mordovich got in arbitration courts, Federal Tax Servise and several other departments, Sameta quickly got itself a number of clients. Among the new clients was Roman Trotsenko, adviser to Igor Sechin, a friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Roman Trotsenko met leaders of Sameta back in 2000. Russian tax police statements show that the illegal business around tax return was closely associated with the companies of Interros group owned by Vladimir Potanin. In the late 1990s, a former aide to President Boris Yeltsin, Major-General of Military Intelligence Boris Kuzyk together with Interros established New programs and concepts (NPK). As its contribution to the share capital of the company, Interros provided securities of a number of companies, including Northern Shipyard bringing it under full control of NPK. North-Western Shipping Company also ended up under the full control of New programs and concepts. Dmitry Gromyko became a kind of an overseer for the interests ofInterros in NPK. Officially, he took one of the posts in the shipping company.
By this time Roman Trotsenko already owned Moscow inland navigation division and actively developed his business. His usual manner was hostile takeovers, including bribery of top managers in the camp of competitors. In NPK Dmitry Gromyko was the bribed top manager who was supposed to help Trotsenko get certain assets of the entity. Gromyko arranged another helper for Trotsenko, his friend Yuri Tufanov who in 1998 to 2007 served as the company’s Deputy General Director.
Their joint efforts led Northern Shipyard which already at that time was financially supported by the state,North-Western Shipping Company and other companies managed by NPK into distress. However, Trotsenko failed to gain control over Northern Shipyard. It was given over to a more influential figure, a banker Sergei Pugachev. Trotsenko got his share as well, in a number of other entities under NPK.
From Roman Trotsenko to jail
Cooperation with Gromyko worked out all right for Trotsenko, so later he used this businessman and hisSameta for most of his projects. Mordovichev and Gromyko were to solve various local problems such as to negotiate with representatives of the Tax Service for their refusal from tax claims in large amounts; urge arbitration courts to rule in a certain way; bribe people in the camp of competitors, etc. Such tasks required little legal skill. It required connections in the Tax Service and among judges, and to have money to meet their financial needs. And they had it all. Gromyko and Mordovichev were well connected, and Trotsenko had the money.
Today Sameta employs about 50 people. Some of them are lawyers that are being prepared for future introduction to the courts, large state-owned entities, tax authorities, other government entities. For example, in 2013 Yevgeniy Strelnikov, a former employee of Sameta, became a judge in the Moscow Arbitration Court. Just now his colleague and the presiding judge Andrey Grechishkin is considering a multibillion lawsuit for the recovery of funds in favour of the firm owned by Roman Trotsenko. Alan Khadziev, also a former Sameta employee, is now head of a sub department in one of the Ministry of Energy departments.
The other part Sameta staff are former employees of the tax service and other government agencies who already performed some work for Sameta in their previous engagements and got the job here after facing trouble. Among them a lot of people came to Sameta on personal patronage of Trotsenko. For example, a former spokesman for the Ministry of Transport, Aleksandr Filimonov. He came to the Ministry of Transport when Trotsenko was an official in this agency, so when talking to the media he defended rather the interests of Trotsenko than those of the ministry.
For many years Sameta positioned itself as a law firm closely linked to the Federal Tax Service of Russia. Many of its employees were former workers of this agency. Gromyko himself for a long time served as a member of the Public Council of the Federal Tax Service of the Russian Federation. Sameta constantly holds various seminars with the participation of high ranking Tax Service officials. Sameta charges its customers at a rate equal to that of the existing problem-solvers, a.k.a. reshalschiki. This is 5-20% of the amount to be saved from the claims of the Tax Service.
All you need to do to see the tax claims lifted is to sign a standard agreement with Aleksei Mordovichev for a wide range of services. However, Sameta lawyers can rarely be seen in courts. All issues are settled behind the scenes, within the 5-20%, with either the Tax Service staff or with the judges. Therefore, the presence of the law firm during the official proceedings is not so important. The right decision has been secured.
When in 2009 Trotsenko became president of United Shipbuilding Corporation, he became to use services ofSameta more often to solve his problems regarding OSK. In particular, he aimed to rid the shipyards within the holding of tax claims. It was Sameta staff who Trotsenko sent to deal with claims worth 950 million rubles, put forward to Northern Shipyard by the Interdistrict Inspectorate of the Federal Tax Service of St. Petersburg on the largest taxpayers.
On 14 May 2012 Northern Shipyard signed a contract with Sameta worth 38 million rubles, which provided for "representing the interests of the customer in the Arbitration Court, the preparation and submission of the application contesting the decision and the requirements imposed on the results of an audit" and etc.
As usual, the issue was resolved behind the scenes, the claims were lifted. Sameta lawyers never showed up in the arbitration courts. As usual there was no trace of any official activities to address the problem with the tax. And since the contract, fully paid for by the shipyard, provided for a range of activities for Sameta to perform, it has given rise to criminal proceedings under Article 159 of the Criminal Code (fraud on a large scale). OSK former head of the legal department Ilya Novoselskiy was arrested. He gave an incriminating statement against Sameta and ex-president of OSK, Roman Trotsenko.
However, the investigators have more ambitious plans than to deal exclusively with the 38 million rubles. This case provides an opportunity to hook people from the inner circle of Roman Trotsenko, who can tell about thefts worth billions of rubles allocated to Northern Shipyard by the state. As mentioned above, so far the charges are brought against a close confidant of Trotsenko, ex-chief of the legal department, Ilya Novoselskiy. Recently, the city court of St. Petersburg upheld the decision made by the Kirov court of St. Petersburg, that is, kept the lawyer in jail.
It was Novoselskiy who passed along all informal wishes from Roman Trotsenko to the managers within OSKshipyards. In particular, Novoselskiy demanded that the Aleksander Ushakov, head of Northern Shipyard, negotiate and pay the 38 million rubles contract with Sameta. Now investigators reached Mordovichev and Gromyko. The latter was more than just an ordinary problem-solver for the entity. According to law enforcement officials, Gromyko, as a man who knew the whole structure of the shipyard since the time of cooperation with NPK, could be related to larger amounts of budgetary funds that disappeared at Northern Shipyard.
P.S. It is worth noting that the leaders of Sameta (Mordovich, Gromyko, and, indirectly, Trotsenko) found themselves pulled into a nasty situation that had already attracted the attention of the security services. Several years ago, Roman Trotsenko’s interests began to spread to Ukraine where he bought Volga- Dnieper shipping company. To serve the interests of the oligarch in Ukraine, Sameta opened a branch, Sameta -Ukraine. They found quite a partner for the Ukraine branch. Sameta-Ukraine is co-owned by a Lviv businessman Vladimir Vashko, who has been working on his political career for years now. At first he was a member of Yuliya Tymoshenko’s party, then became one of the founders of the party United Center based in Transcarpathia - a co-organizer of Maidan, and now is calling for a war against "external aggressor Russia" and "extermination of “AntiMaydan".
Investigative manhunt for the former president of OSK After the testimony of his former lawyer, Roman Trotsenko rushes to improve his health abroad
Ex-head of United Shipbuilding Corporation legal department, Ilya Novoselskiy, who was arrested in early February on charges of fraud with 38 million rubles from the budget, filed a motion to cooperate with the investigators. Despite the fact that the agreement is not yet officially formalized, he already began to give detailed testimony beyond the fraud case he was detained for and into other similar episodes. Aleksandr Klaus, acting GSU head of the Investigative Committee of Russia in St. Petersburg, said in an interview to a St Petersburg newspaper that within this case other senior OSK leaders will be brought to justice and that no one is beyond reach for the investigation.
Roman Trotsenko loses in the deal with justice
From what Novoselskiy is saying it appears that he never acted on his own and always implemented what had been decided by the management, including in the case of theft of 38 million rubles. His former boss, ex-president of OSK Roman Trotsenko, already started to prepare for possible issues with law enforcement. His representatives announced that Trotsenko has been seriously injured and needs a surgery and long-term treatment. Most likely he would have to go abroad, where Trotsenko would be unavailable for Russian investigators.
St. Petersburg investigators believe that in May 2012 Ilya Novoselskiy instructed Aleksandr Ushakov, the head of Northern Shipyard, to conclude an agreement for legal assistance with Sameta - tax and legal advice under which the latter was paid 38 million rubles. For the money the company was supposed to help in the proceedings of arbitration on tax claims. However, at the hearings the only lawyers present were those of the shipyard.
In reality, this criminal case is a gateway to something more than a common story about stealing 38 million rubles. There is an extensive number of such dubious treaties on legal assistance concluded by different companies and factories belonging to OSK. The incident with Northern Shipyard is easily provable and, more importantly, it allows to bring charges against Novoselskiy who in his turn would tell in detail about the circumstances of the signing of other numerous contracts.
Debt transformed into elegant scheme
When in 2009 Trotsenko was appointed president of OSK, his task was to consolidate numerous corporate assets, improve the financial performance of shipyards, provide them with orders. A set of government contracts worth 231 billion rubles was meant to help him out. These funds were to go to the shipyards that would build new military and civilian vessels and get out of the crisis. The fate of the allocated federal budget funds became the subject of separate investigations and new criminal cases will yet be initiated time and again. This is a topic for a whole other article. In this one we are talking about the ways Trotsenko used to improve financial performance of shipyards without providing them with funds.
Most shipyards had huge debts to creditor banks, tax debts in gigantic amounts, debts to suppliers and subcontractors. All of them filed claims to arbitration courts so that shipyards were about to officially go bankrupt.
Trotsenko made a decision to transfer most of these debts to OSK, to the great relief of both shipyards managers and the banks who nearly ceased to expect to get their money back. What agreements which firms signed with what banks is still out there for the investigators to find out from Novoselskiy. And he knows.
But there were still debts of enterprises to the tax authorities and suppliers of raw materials, goods and services. Trotsenko found a way out of this situation as well. Almost his entire business career he resorted to hostile takeovers. In this field Trotsenko, according to investigators, established good relationships with at least five teams of takeover experts to address delicate problems with courts, law enforcement agencies and the Federal Tax Service. The problems were mostly solved one way, through bribery.
According to eyewitness, since 2010 Trotsenko actively communicated with the members of these teams and gave them orders to solve all the problems of athis or that shipyard in OSK. "Spend as much as you need, everything will be reimbursed," Trotsenko would allegedly say to them. It is clear that representatives of these teams were not in the court room during official proceedings or in the Federal Tax Service during proceedings concerning tax dodging. Nevertheless, arbitration courts ruled in favour of the shipyards, and tax authorities lifted their claims. You can tell this cost some money.
Key link in OSK scams
Pushy suppliers could be dealt with more radically. The teams used threats and paid for initiation of criminal cases. When the work was done, representatives of the teams went to Trotsenko to get their pay. He told them to contact the shipyards that would sign contracts (often retroactively) for legal and other services for exactly the amount the team wanted for their work done to solve problems. All legal technicalities were to be settled by Ilya Novoselskiy, the right hand of Trotsenko in OSK.
By 34 Ilya Novoselskiy worked most of his life in various construction companies and met Trotsenko when he became interested in this kind of business. In particular, in 2009 Novoselskiy was deputy general director for legal affairs in Standard Development LLC. The main owner of this enterprise is the family of Kaliningrad Governor Nikolai Tsukanov, an old friend of Roman Trotsenko.
According to some sources, Trotsenko has a share in Standard Development. When he became president of OSK, he soon invited Ilya Novoselskiy to take the position of head of the legal department. Novoselskiy represented OSK in the boards of directors of more than 20 shipyards and everyone knew that everything that Novoselskiy says is instructions directly from Trotsenko and therefore must be implemented at once. Novoselskiy also was engaged in working on all state contracts with the shipyards. Among other things, he was engaged in registration of contracts with the so-called problem-solvers. Trotsenko valued his right hand a lot and constantly indulged in bonuses from one to three million rubles a month.
Premiums and fees for informal solutions
It is worth noting that Trotsenko already had quite a story about bonus payments that almost turned into a criminal case against him . Shortly before his dismissal from OSK in July 2012 Trotsenko offered a job in the company to his friend whom he appointed the chief of the personnel department. The president immediately gave a 3 million rubles bonus to the new staff member, a sort of a sign-on bonus. The new head of the department left in a few months and of course kept the bonus. The new OSK leadership at first was thinking about reporting the failed employee to the police. However, in December 2013 they filed a lawsuit to Moscow Arbitration Court against Trotsenko, seeking to recover the 3 million rubles.
If we go back to the story about Northern Shipyard, by the end of 2011 the Shipyard was on the verge of bankruptcy. By this time, in addition to numerous debts to banks and suppliers the shipyard got another claim from the tax authorities that required additional payments to the budget of almost 1 billion rubles. Help came from OSK president and his longtime friend Dmitry Gromyko, who had actively helped Trotsenko absorb Russian ports and shipping companies. Gromyko at one time served in the leadership of the North-Western Shipping Company.
Dmitry owned the law firm Sameta which employs many former employees of the Federal Tax Service. Sameta was one of the teams of the so-called problem solvers for Trotsenko that used informal methods to eliminate the debts of enterprises in OSK before tax authorities and subcontractors. Around the same time as the abovementioned events at Northern Shipyard Gromyko entered the Public Council of the Federal Tax Service as deputy chairman of the Public Organization Historical and Legal Club. It is not surprising that the tax authorities could not refuse their Public Council member to help out with the1 billion rubles claims against Northern Shipyard. Informal price of the settlement is clear from the 38 million rubles contract for legal services signed between the CEO of Northern Shipyard Aleksey Ushakov and Sameta.
The most notorious corruption scandal in the defense industry
In January 2014 Aleksey Ushakov, head of Northern Shipyard, was detained in the framework of the investigation of 38 million budget rubles theft. During interrogation he claimed he had no idea how the issues with the tax authorities had been settled. He claims that Ilya Novoselskiy told him that the boss would sort out this problem, but all there was for Ushakov to do was to sign a contract with Sameta and transfer the required sum of money. As a result, Ushakov was subjected to house arrest.
After that Novoselskiy whose phones had already been tapped, started to panic. He complained to friends that he was not going to be the whipping boy and if the company would fail to get him out of this, he would give testimony about how events unfolded in reality. When his panic reached its peak, police officers arrested him in Moscow and delivered to investigators in St. Petersburg. During the questioning the lawyer could not hold it and began to testify not only about the agreement between Northern Shipyard and Sameta, but also concerning all other similar agreements that allowed to use the budget money for bribes.
Now it was time for Roman Trotsenko to get nervous. His representatives have already announced that Trotsenko got badly injured in a landing accident of his private jet. Allegedly, he needs a surgery and a long course of treatment. By the way, to make the announcement look more convincing, Trotsenko talks to his visitors while lying down, claiming that extreme pain would not let him sit and stand. In addition, a vast spectrum of informal methods is now aimed at closing OSK criminal case and keeping the media away from voicing anything about biggest corruption scandal in the military-industrial complex of Russia.
It is clear that when the whole situation goes south, the injury will provide for Roman Trotsenko to go abroad for treatment for an infinite period of time. According to a source in law enforcement agency, if in the course of investigation the surgery would not take place, Trotsenko will face serious questions in the next 2-3 months. This is how long it will take to verify the information received from Novoselskiy. It is possible that by this time there will be more criminal cases chocking the legal advice agreements for OSK shipyards run by Roman Trotsenko
Trotsenko is under cross fire and is in trouble not only with the representatives of law enforcement agencies, but also with the problem solvers he had used to settle issues on his behalf. His resignation in 2012 was unexpected so some of the problem solvers did not have time to sign contracts with the shipyards, whereas the work was already done, the money spent for bribes. It is clear that they demanded their costs paid back not from OSK, but from Trotsenko who they initially agreed to do the work with. The total debt is estimated at approximately near the amount that Northern Shipyard paid to Sameta. At first Trotsenko claimed force majeure and promised to fix this soon. When the visitors were particularly annoying, he paid them some 2-3 million rubles. However, he has not yet paid up, preferring to avoid further contact with them.
Original article in "Izvestia", 26 March2014
Prosecutors in search of 14 billion rubles stolen from shipbuilders
United Shipbuilding Corporation (OSK) has sent to the Prosecutor General files on audit of spending the 14.2 billion rubles allocated in 2009-2012 by order of the Prime Minister of Russia for financial recovery of Amur Shipbuilding Plant (ASZ). According to the audit, the then leadership of the corporation headed by Roman Trotsenko used the money inappropriately: paid out some OSK loans, transferred to deposit accounts, signed agreements disadvantageous for ASZ. Reviewers also drew the attention of prosecutors to the fact that despite the order of the Prime Minister to provide help in 2011, Trotsenko initiated bankruptcy of the shipyard, which prevents ASZ even further from fully carrying out its obligations in the state defense order.
The audit mentioned earlier is that by OSK financial control department of the implementation of economic recovery plans at ASZ for the period from 2009 to 2013. Back in 2009, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin instructed the leadership of OSK to devise a financial recovery plan for ASZ. The budget allocated 14.2 billion rubles to save the entity. However, as the audit showed, the then management of the corporation ignored the order of the Prime Minister.
"From 1 January 2009 to 1 July 2013 not a single decision relating to the restructuring was made during ASZ General Meetings of Shareholders and the Board of Directors. ASZ never saw an approved financial recovery plan. Recovery plan has not been devised", says the audit.
During this period, four of the six ASZ board members were representatives of OSK. One of them was company’s president Roman Trotsenko, who also headed Far Eastern Center of Shipbuilding and Ship Repair (FECSR). Another was head of the legal department, Ilya Novoselskiy, who is now under investigation. The third was head of department for managing state order, Anatoly Shlemov. And the fourth one was head of the civil shipbuilding department Dmitry Sapov. Most key decisions by the board were made by this group of people.
During the audit it was found out that the funds allocated to support Amur shipyard were squandered.
"In the audited period OSK received 14.2 billion rubles from the federal budget for financial recovery of ASZ. The money never reached the distressed company and was used by OSK to repay a loan from Sberbank under non-revolving credit line started 17 December 2009", says the report of the Department of financial Control. This agreement was signed by Roman Trotsenko.
In 2009, by Vladimir Putin's order it was decided to provide ASZ with about 2 billion rubles. But, according to the auditors, the shipyard never got the money. "Funds provided as grant assistance from the federal budget in the amount of 1.9 billion rubles for the completion of the order number 518 by the order of OSK President Roman Trotsenko fully transformed into payables receivable from ASZ to OSK”, says the audit.
“The situation was no better with funds of Ministry of Defense, which were transferred to ASZ within contract obligations for the state defense order. This is about 7.6 billion rubles,” says a source at OSK to an Izvestia reporter.
According to the auditors, only 1.2 billion rubles of all the allocated funds were used for the purposes intended. Thus, one billion rubles got transferred to banks on deposit accounts and most of the money went to the projects of FECSR led by Trotsenko up until the middle of 2011. The company signed a contract with ASZ for the construction of supply vessels, but transferred to Amur shipyard only 3 million rubles, while the company spent more than 1.2 billion rubles while working on the project. "Work on the supply vessels worth 1.2 billion rubles could be conducted only by advances from the Defense Ministry", concluded the auditors. According to their calculations, "no less than 4.1 billion rubles of the state defense order payment was diverted from initial purposes and spent on things not related to its implementation."
All this brought ASZ on the edge. "OSK management selected restructuring plan that only increased payables due, despite the 14.2 billion rubles allocated by the government, by 3.6 billion rubles," noted the auditors.
According to the auditors, when Trotsenko was around, ASZ accounting showed that the company started to make a profit and the balance sheet total soared. However, it turned out that the progress existed only on paper. "An increase in the value of assets is largely artificial and due to the revaluation of fixed assets for the purpose of an additional share issue with a positive net asset value", OSK financial control specialists note.
Despite the direct order of Vladimir Putin to assist the shipyard, in October 2011 OSK president Roman Trotsenko initiated bankruptcy procedures. He sent a letter to the general director of SPMBM Malachite (part of OSK) in which he ordered to apply to the Arbitration Court of Khabarovsk Krai with a claim of insolvency (bankruptcy) of ASZ. The reason for this was a 16.5 million rubles debt of ASZ to Malachite which the parties had negotiated about and worked out a solution long ago. Malachite followed the order from senior management and the court brought temporary management to ASZ.
Trotsenko rejects all accusations from OSK.
“All decisions relating to spending funds allocated to ASZ were made based on orders from the Russian government and were registered by means of the decision of the Board,” explained Roman Trotsenko to Izvestia. “The last financial tranches were planned for 2013-2014, so the procedure of shipyard’s reorganization would have been completed only by the end of this year.”
ASZ representatives failed to promptly respond to questions of Izvestia.
Amur shipyard was commissioned by the Ministry of Defense and is currently building two corvettes 20380 (by the names of Sovershennyi and Gromkiy) and also is repairing and modernizing 877Varshavyanka diesel-electric submarine. The total price of these contracts is 30 billion rubles. Several weeks ago Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu voiced deep criticism about the way works are organized at ASZ and concerning the repairs of existing ships and delay in construction of new ones.
Sechin’s advisor and the judge in Yukos case leave Polonsky’s defrauded investors with no apartments or money
The fate of 2.5 billion rubles paid by hundreds of people for apartment yet under construction is decided by a man who was convicted for murder and declared insane. A twist worthy of Quentin Tarantino, the master of black criminal humor. But Moscow Arbitration Court Judge Andrey Grechishkin apparently considers such things to be quite normal. He chose Valery Vlasenko, who apparently appeared a mentally deranged man with a gangster past fit for a thief in law, as expert for judicial assessment.
April 18, 2014
The documents drawn up by Vlasenko on the decision of Grechishkin are considered crucial in hearing about 2.5 billion rubles that real estate investors paid for apartments in Kutuzovskaya mile residential complex, still under construction. Why Grechishkin made such a strange choice when selecting an expert? It was on the recommendation of the representatives from Avanta belonging to Roman Trotsenko, co-owner in Potok (current name of Mirax Group owned by Sergei Polonsky) and concurrently head of Rosneft Overseas SA.
It is hard to go against his will. At a certain point Grechishkin made a ruling that led to the transition of Yukos assets to Rosneft, and apparently in the habit he again acts in favour of Roman Trotsenko, who is linked to Rosneft. However, this time the withdrawal of money invested into Kutuzovskaya mile through the ruling of judge Grechishkin is not in the interests of state-owned company, but for the personal benefit of its top manage, Roman Trotsenko.
Trotsenko will take what Polonsky left behind?
The essence of the hearing held in the Moscow Arbitration Court by Andrey Grechishkin is extremely simple. Some time ago hundreds of people decided to buy an apartment in Kutuzovskaya mile, a residential complex well-marketed by Mirax Group belonging to Sergei Polonsky. In total, they paid to the two Mirax subsidiaries, Avanta and Concordia Asset Management, 5.7 billion rubles and by 2012 were to get their apartments in the two apartment blocks erected this quarter (Fort Kutuzov and the 18th building). According to the Investigative Department of the Interior Ministry, only 2.5 billion out of the entire investment funds was transferred by Avanta to the developer, FTSSR JSC, and the remaining 3.2 billion rubles were taken out by Sergei Polonsky for his own needs. For this crime he is now on the international wanted list and is hiding in Cambodia.
Then came the crisis of 2008 and Polonsky’s enterprises were unable to invest in the construction of residential quarters, all works stopped. This was when Roman Trotsenko, president of United Shipbuilding Corporation and adviser to the president of Rosneft Igor Sechin, joined Mirax Group as a shareholder. After several years with no funding the developer terminated the co-investment agreement with Avanta and attracted other investors and contractors. For a long time nothing was happening to solve the issue with the defrauded real estate investors, even though the developer originally offered to guarantee apartments for the co-investors. Trotsenko and Polonsky were against such actions. Last fall, after the change of leadership in Moscow, Sergei Sobyanin included the defrauded investors in a supplementary agreement to the investment contract between the city and the developer.
Last year it also turned out that the fugitive oligarch Sergei Polonsky who is hiding out in Cambodia, completely sold his assets including Federation tower in Moscow-City and Avanta, all to Roman Trotsenko. Trotsenko’s representatives announced that money collected from defrauded investors and invested in construction by Avanta, a total of 2.5 billion rubles, plus interest in the amount of approximately another 1.3 billion must be returned to this LLC. A lawsuit was filed to Moscow Arbitration Court. What a twist! The money once stolen from the defrauded investors is demanded not to use it in the construction of houses but to transfer to the entity that previously had stolen 3.2 billion rubles belonging to real estate investors.
The situation is clearly ridiculous. It would seem that bringing such a matter to court is not just immoral and illegal, but also stupid. It is as if a con artist who got hold of a person’s wallet by means of deception would require the court to recognize his right to own the money in the wallet of the victim on the ground that it was in his hands before his arrest by the police and thus was included in the list of physical evidence at the time of arrest. But jusge Andrey Grechishkin is willing to consider the claim. Apparently, since the time of rulings on Yukos case, he still believes that the decisions in favour of Roman Trotsenko are acts in the public interest and not in the interest of businessman Trotsenko or Rosneft.
Representatives of Avanta insisted that Grechishkin called an expert appraisal on the actual value of one of the buildings in Kutuzovskaya mile, namely Fort Kutuzov. The building has been commissioned and the apartments have been given over to investors who had paid to Avanta belonging to Polonsky and then to Trotsenko. The assessment is meant to establish how much money went into the construction of this building from the 2.5 billion rubles transferred by Avanta to the developer.
In order to determine the value of Fort Kutuzov (building 2ABV) Roman Trotsenko’s entity suggested Grechishkin called upon an assessment organization in Odintsovo district of Moscow region, NPO Standard. The defendant (developer, FTSSR) suggested to pick a more famous and influential institution working in the field of construction evaluation. But the judge was determined and supported his choice by alleged "high professionalism and competence" of the company’s employees.
Mad man decides the fate of 2.5 billion rubles
Let’s try to understand what kind of experts were chosen by the most influential and well-known judge of the Arbitration Court of Moscow.
According to the IRS in Odintsovo district, NPO Standard entrusted with the decision of the fate of hundreds of people and their 2.5 billion rubles employs only two people: CEO Irina Smirnova and her deputy Valery Vlasenko. Moreover, salaries they get are mere peanuts. According to files presented to the tax authorities, Irina Smirnova earns 15 thousand rubles a month and Valery Vlasenko even less, only 11 250 rubles.
Maybe these people have extensive experience in expert work? A little research showed that they do have some extensive experience, but it has nothing to do with their new profession. Valery Vlasenko came about to being an expert after….committing a murder, spending years hiding from the investigation, then litigations and a psychiatric hospital.
Now let’s turn to the archives of Moscow region police. They state that on 8 October 1996 Ruzsky district police received a report from hospital stating that a man died from wounds. The man was beaten to death. Criminal investigation officers quickly found the criminals: A.V. Skarzhinets born in 1973, D.E. Popov born in 1972, and S.N. Burakov born in 1971. "Measures are being taken to track down and arrest accomplices: A.V. Zhirkovich born in 1975, V.T. Vlasenko born in 1963, V.S. Kalmikov born in 1972," says the police report. The abovementioned V.T. Vlasenko is likely to be the same person the judge recognized a "highly professional expert".
From archives of the Moscow region police we know that they failed to catch Vlasenko right away. Therefore, he was put on federal wanted list for the murder of Baranov. For 8 long years the “expert” was hiding from the police. Until when on 25 July 2004 he was detained by Ruzsky district police. Court ruled imprisonment but the doctors found the man insane and the sentence changed to "medical coercive measures”. Simply put, he was sent to a specialized psychiatric hospital. Once free again, Valery Vlasenko become quite competent expert appraiser, according to the judge Grechishkin.
Irina Smirnova has a biography that is a bit more modest. But her career path is also in no way related to the assessment and expertise in the field of construction. In the Moscow suburbs she is more commonly known as a business partner of her husband, crime-related real estate agent Vyacheslav Khubulov who specializes in selling real estate owned by alcoholics and lonely people. Over the last ten years he made more than 130 transactions with this kind of real estate objects, including ones officially sold for ….18 rubles! Irina Smirnova, an expert on weight instrument, often participated in the transactions masterminded by her spouse. And then she took up appraisal. Truly professional experts were at shock when they faced such a colleague and literally inundated various authorities complaining about incompetence of Irina Smirnova. As a result, she has the record number of complaints and penalties filed against her to the Russian Society of Appraisers.
Now the mad man and the real estate agent conducted the appraisal which determines the fate of defrauded investors and 2.5 billion rubles they paid to Polonsky.