The High Court of England and Wales (located in London) did not prohibit Vostochny Bank from conducting proceedings in Russia against the founder of the Baring Vostok fund, Michael Calvey, and the Cypriot structure Evison, through which the fund owns 42% of the bank. RBC reviewed the court decision of October 31.
The reason for considering the case was the claims of Finvision Artem Avetisyan (successor of Cyprus Finvision), which controls Vostochny Bank with partners (Baring has been a minority shareholder of the bank since this summer). On July 30, Vostochny filed lawsuits against Evison in arbitration of the Amur Region and personally against Calvi, who was under investigation for compensation for losses of 10 billion rubles, and the bank managed to seize Evison's share in the bank as part of interim measures. In November, the bank filed another lawsuit, already at 8.8 billion rubles.
In September, Evison applied to the High Court for a ban on trials in another jurisdiction (anti-suit injuction), since the agreement between the shareholders of Vostochny implies the resolution of disputes in the British arbitration. The court did not support her in this, but noted that the company has a chance to “reverse” the exercise of the option by almost 10% of Vostochny’s shares in favor of Finvision, due to which Baring Vostok lost control of the bank.
Shareholder Conflict History
In 2016, Baring Vostok and Finvizhn merged their Vostochny and Uniastrum banks, gaining 52 and 32% in the new bank, respectively (another 10% were held by Avetisyan’s partners). The parties entered into a number of agreements and assumed that Avetisyan’s side would eventually gain control in the bank, so Finvizhn gave an option for a 9.99% stake. The partners did not fulfill their plans: Baring revealed cases of fraud in Uniastrum before the merger, said Calvi, who is now under house arrest. This did not suit the fund, and instead of exercising the option in the spring of 2018, he went to the London International Tribunal (LCIA).
The amount of claims by Baring Vostok on the allegation of fraud by Finvision is 17.5 billion rubles, Calvey said. Finnish to Baring Vostok also got their claims (22 billion rubles). A year later, in February 2019, against the Calvey and three other Baring Vostok managers, the Investigative Committee opened a criminal case on fraud worth 2.5 billion rubles. according to the statement of the business partner Avetisyan and the minority shareholder of Vostochny Sherzod Yusupov. After that, Finvision won several processes in the Amur Court and forcibly exercised the option for a 9.99% stake in Vostochny, becoming its controlling shareholder.
The Vostochny press service noted that the English court recognized the bank’s right to conduct proceedings for claims for damages in Russia, found its claim justified and awarded Evison the payment of legal costs. “Vostochny’s leadership acts in the interests of the bank, and the request to prohibit the continuation of such actions is unjustified,” the press service emphasized, indicating that the bank will continue litigation in Russia and hopes for full compensation for damage “caused by individual managers Baring Vostok Foundation. ” According to a source close to the bank, Evison reimbursed legal costs of £ 130 thousand.
Baring Vostok reported that they were satisfied with the decision of the High Court, as it “once again confirmed that all Finvision claims against Evison in Russia are illegal and the relevant decisions of the Russian courts can be challenged. “Vostochny” cannot be prohibited from conducting court proceedings in Russia, since the bank is not a party to an arbitration clause, Baring said, expressing the hope that the fund will sooner or later be able to prove that Finvizhn obtained control in the bank illegally, then the bank will be able to present “multi-billion claims ”is already the company Avetisyan. Finvision declined to comment.
Arguments of the parties in London