23 MAY 2019, THURSDAY
This criminal story commenced in 2016, when a citizen of Canada and the Great Britain Mark Richards decided to go out of construction business he has been running in Russia with AODSK-1 Director Vladimir Kopelev since 1992. Richard’s attempts to return his money resulted in a number of judicial proceedings concluded with a “National Security Imprisonment” of the lawyer Kantemir Karamzin defending the interests of foreign business man.
DSK-1 was established in Moscow in 1961 and built over 55 million m2 of housing. The plant built 19% of residential accommodation in Moscow commencing from the first K-7 series prefabricated buildings to later L-44 17-storey buildings with rare for that time large kitchens and ample rooms.
Vladimir Kopelev got into the saddle of DSK-1 back in 1982. In 1991-2008, he occupied the position of the Director General of DSK-1 and then he became the Chairman of the Board of Directors of DSK-1 OJSC. He was repetitively elected as the member to Communist Party Congress (XXIV, XXV, XXVII) and 19th Party Conference. [Honoured Builder of the USSR, Hero of Socialist Labour (1974) and Honorary Citizen of the City of Moscow (2005).
During summer 2016 97% of DSK-1 (consists of 4 sites: Krasnopresnensky, Khoroshevsky, Rostokinsky and Tushinsky concrete products plants) was procured by financial and construction corporation Lider owned by Vladimir Voronin by means of non-monetary deal. Hence, Lider took over significant debt load of DSK-1. “Restructuring was commenced to transform large, slow Soviet enterprise into a new company capable to offer modern product at market conditions”, – noted the FSK Lider President Vladimir Voronin.
Obligations of DSK-1 on large loan (13 Billion Roubles) borrowed from Rossel’khozbank were taken over by new legal entity “Pervy Stroitelny Kombinat” (First Construction Plant). But these were not all the encumbrances that many knew about before Kopelev sold his creation.
According to the lawyer Karamzin, the obligations to his client Richards were recorded back in 2010 in the structure of Kopelev’s debts totalling CHF250 Million under the Promissory Bond issued to Kithia Limited. In order to keep the money, the owners of construction empires initiated a number of financial operations including with the funds of joint business – AO DSK-1.
In June 2016, Kopelev’s assets were moved abroad, company shares were transferred to Voronin and AO DSK-1 itself was split into five small limited liability companies: New-City LLC, Line-City LLC, DSK-1-Rostokino LLC, DSK-1-Tushino LLC, Good-City LLC. Such partitioning pursued another goal. According to Karamzin, Kopelev was destroying the oldest enterprise with Voronin’s hands to start joint developer project with estimated profit of $300 Million.
In support of this the lawyer refers to the admission of Kopelev’s personal assistant he made on 8 April 2019. The assistant mentioned bribes his boss uses to give to investigators and confirmed that the deal with the shares between Kopelev and Voronin is sham and was initiated so that not to pay multimillion debts to Kithia Limited.
84 years old Kopelev could hardly pull it off by himself. One should have different and not Soviet mindset.
The Voronins are Moscow Construction clan. In 1992-2002 Alexander Voronin Sr. has been working in the Moscow City Government occupying key positions together with Vladimir Resin. Among other things he was supervising the work of the largest Moscow construction company “Glavmosstroy” that had in its structure a few dozens of enterprises build two thirds of all Moscow residential property.
Thanks to father’s contacts the construction career of Vladimir Voronin Jr. was developing rapidly. In 1999, 25-year-old Voronin became Financial Director of newly established Glavmosstroymonolit that was dealing with leading for that time monolithic (and not panel) construction. Glavmosstroymonolit received active financing from city budget – the company built schools, courts etc. High-ranking father mined the contracts and the son built.
In 1995, Glavmosstroy, two other large trusts, Mospromstroymaterialy that owned the construction materials plants and Mosmontazhspetsstroy supplying steel work, lifts, sanitary fitments and other equipment merged into construction and industrial corporation (CIC) “Razvitie” (Development).
In 2002, Alexander Voronin Jr. retired from civil service and headed the CIC Razvitie. By 2003, the corporation was controlled by three Russian companies whose traces vanished in offshores. Director of these three offshores was Larisa Voronina. Alexander Voronin’s wife had the same name. Relying on Moskovskiy Komsomolets, by 2005, no building in Moscow has been built without Razvitie.
Eventually, CIC Razvitie and subordinated construction Chief Directorates were subjected to classic hostile acquisition and passed to Nafta Moskva owned by Suleyman Kerimov, who at that time was State Duma Deputy. The Director General Vladimir Kuznetsov appointed during the Voronin’s time was fired.
Next stage was forcible takeover of CIC Razvitie office and strong boxes with documents.
There is a hypothesis that the war between Kerimov and the Voronins started because one of Luzhkov’s close associates told him that the Razvitie owners are off the limits and this needs to be resolved. Luzhkov asked Suleyman Kerimov to “sort it out”. And Nafta in this case was just a tool.
After the illegal takeover Nafta immediately sold Razvitie to Oleg Deripaska and realised about $70-80 Million. Though, according to specialist estimations the construction company at that time could well cost $10-12 Billion. The Voronins had to start building the construction business from scratch. And they perfectly adopted the methods of their offenders? “We are builders, we are mafia”, – Alexander Voronin confidently declares.
Mark Richards could return money through courts only. Business man lawyered up Karamzin, whom – as it turned out – Kopelev owed large amount of money.
On 30 December 2016, Karamzin on behalf of Kithia Limited won arbitration case on collection of CHF241 Million from Kopelev. Though Kopelev attempted to cancel the decision of arbitration court, all the instances including the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation agreed with this decision.
Complaints on the Promissory Bond that form Kopelev’s debt to Richards resulting from their decade activity were also lodged with Savelovsky District Court in Moscow. Legal expertise confirmed the authenticity of the Promissory Bond.
On 16 November 2018, pursuant to the request of the creditors the Moscow Arbitration Court declared Kopelev bankrupt for the benefit of Richards and his partner and lawyer Karamzin. All the assets of Kopelev including the shares of DSK-1 that he was attempting to conceal or transfer to his partner Voronin were seized.
As it turned out it was too early to celebrate the victory of creditors over the debtors. As Kantemir Karamzin explains, security services got involved into the case with own commercial interest.
On 10 April 2019, the lawyer Kantemir Karamzin was arrested in the building of Moscow Arbitration Court, where he came to attend the process against Kopelev and Voronin. The reason for taking into custody was criminal case against the lawyer on the 2007 events associated with famous writer Oleg Blotsky.
Foreign business man got under security service pressure too. During the investigation on the debts of his Russian business partners Richards was interrogated by an investigator of the Investigation Committee of the Russian Federation for Central Administrative District in Moscow on 30 June 2017 as per Kopelev’s request, who insisted he owed nothing to him and Karamzin. Fearing the pursuit of the security service officers Richards left Russia.
Apparently the business man was right as Russian lawyer after numerous interrogations and suspensions of the debt case got into jail on preposterous charge when the security officers had to kick him out of the “game.”
Kantemir Karamzin considers his arrest was a provocation organised by FSS to put a pressure on him and Richards in the judicial dispute with construction oligarchs and Blotsky case was used to cover commercial interests of FSS Generals.
According to the lawyer, Voronin-Kopelev feared the judicial decisions against their interests and sought assistance and support from the Chief of Moscow and Moscow Province Office of the Federal Security Bureau Aleksey Dorofeev and his assistant – Chief of “M” Department of Moscow Office of the Federal Security Bureau Sergey Natarov, who – according to existing legislation – are not supposed to deal with economic disputes.
It should be noted that the name of FSS Lieutenant General Dorofeev and his colleague from infamous Department “K” General Tkachev was many times mentioned in the high-profile case with the arrest of ex-head of Serpukhovsky district Alexander Shestun, who declared yet another fast and wrote death letter where he blames high-ranking security service officers in corruption and acts taking him to death.
In the interrogation file as a suspect Karamzin represents that Colonel Natarov was appointed as immediate executive of the pressure, whom he met in 2016 under rather interesting circumstances. According to the lawyer the security officer requested him to find compromising materials on Moscow judges to relieve their pressure on ex-head of judicial administration of judicial department under the Supreme Court in Moscow Vyacheslav Lepezin, who was nailed for fraud.
Karamzin also informed that in the end of February of current year Colonel Natarov warned him that his superiors instructed to lose the case with Voronin and Kopelev and “in a friendly manner” recommended to leave Russia to avoid arrest.
That’s what Karamzin did. But the pressure on him and his close ones kept growing: his friends, acquaintances and partners informed that FSS monitor their telephone conversations and initiated surveillance including reading the emails.
In these circumstances Karamzin sent Natarov SMS requesting to leave the people alone as Richards and he (Karamzin) consent to any conditions to ensure their friends and acquaintances do not suffer.
In April, the lawyer decided to return to Moscow and was punished. Kantemir Karamzin was taken into custody by the subordinates of Colonel Natarov, when the claim on the case on declaring Kopelev bankrupt and on invalidation of sham deal with FSK Lider should have been considered shortly before the expiration of the term of obligations to Richards and Karamzin (Kithia Limited).
On the day of Karamzin’s arrest the investigator of Babushkinsky department of Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for Moscow E. Kadyrov brought an accusation that on 20 July 2007 he allegedly forged the signature on the loan agreement with Blotsky for $200,000.
In reply Karamzin gave testimony and clearly said that the purpose of his arrest is an attempt to affect the decision of Moscow Arbitration Court on the dispute against Kopelev and Voronin. The lawyer informed the investigator that Blotsky’s criminal case used as a reason for his arrest is illegal and organised by the Department of Moscow Office of the Federal Security Bureau represented by Colonel Natarov and his superiors, that was recorded in the interrogation file.
About 21:00 on 10 April a team of security officers consisting of 7-10 persons accompanied with the bus with Special Police Force arrived to the building with Karamzin’s apartment and blocked the exits. Lawyers were not let into the apartment.
The greymen were ransacking the apartment for over an hour, however no search log has been drafted. As one of them told the lawyer Alexander Verzhbitsky: “There was no search, therefore there is no search log. We are just walking here.” The above testifies on tampering the search warrant that disappeared from the materials in the proceedings with no traces, same as some other documents.
At present, the lawyer is retained in the worst conditions in one of the remand centres in Moscow Province. There is real danger to his health and life. The circumstances of his placement in custody excite honest dudgeon and bewilderment. And do the actions of security services go beyond the law?
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