Foreigners will be banned from fishing in Russia

FAS found a foreigner among the owners of the fishing company.
The Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) and the Federal Agency for Fishery have found new pretexts to prohibit the fishing of companies under foreign influence. Murmansk RKF may lose quotas on the basis of an agency agreement with the Spanish Pesquera Vaqueiro S.L. The proof of the affiliation of the parties was the fact that the owner of the RKF Irina Shirvel is the wife of a member of the board of directors of a Spanish company.

The Ninth Arbitration Court of Appeal on October 11 admitted that the Murmansk RKF is controlled by a foreign investor. The reason was an agency agreement with the Spanish Pesquera Vaqueiro S.L .: she received the right to determine the decisions taken by the Russian side. Earlier, the FAS gave a similar conclusion. This is the first such case, deputy director of the department Andrei Tsyganov told Kommersant. Previously, the service issued conclusions on foreign control only on the basis of an investor owning more than 50% of the shares and shares in the company. Since 2015, such enterprises are forbidden to fish according to Russian quotas.

The sole owner of the RKF is Irina Shirvel. In 2008–2010, the RKF concluded 11 agreements with the Russian Fishery on fixing quotas for catching sea bass, halibut and flounder in the Atlantic. In 2017–2018, the company produced 6 thousand tons of fish, Ms. Shirvel told Kommersant. Managing partner of Agro and Food Communications Ilya Bereznyuk estimates the value of this catch at 1.5 billion rubles. In 2019, the company filed four applications for Russian quotas in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean, but Rosrybolovstvo refused on the basis of a FAS opinion.

As follows from the court, the agency agreement concluded by the RKF with Pesquera Vaqueiro S.L. in 2011, provides for ship service, fishing and processing by a Spanish counterparty. According to the FAS, most of the fish RKF shipped to a Spanish company: in 2015 - 80% (according to the company - 74.8%) of the total volume of products shipped, in 2016 - 76% (65.74%), in 2017 - 70% (52.6%). According to Irina Shirvel, the main target of the company is sea bass, the main market for which is Asia. RKF preferred to sell fish to an agent to minimize risks due to volatility in demand, Ms. Shirvel explained.

RKF and Pesquera Vaqueiro S.L. affiliated with each other, this is proved by a marriage concluded in 2015 between Irina Shirvel and Spanish citizen Jose Pablo Bakeiro Sotelo, member of the board of directors of Pesquera Vaqueiro S.L., comments Andrei Tsyganov. The court agreed that for this reason the RKF lacked independence in entrepreneurial activity. Irina Shirvel promises to appeal the decision of the appeal. It is unlikely that the decision will be canceled, since the agency agreement shows the full control of the foreign investor over the company, the head of NP-Advice Natalya Pantyukhina predicts.

The RKF also requests that quota denials in the northwestern Atlantic be declared illegal. The impugned conclusion of the FAS was a non-normative document, the lawsuit said. And Rosrybolovstvo cannot independently investigate whether the company is under the influence of a foreign investor, they are confident in the RKF. Rosrybolovstvo requested the conclusion of the FAS, since the department received an appeal from the rival company Murman Sifood indicating foreign control over the RKF, the statement says. Rosrybolovstvo and Murman Sefood did not respond to Kommersant’s request. RKF also disputes the actions of the FAS, which sent a conclusion to the Federal Fisheries Agency. The meetings will take place on October 16 at the Moscow Arbitration Court.

Since 2015, the FAS has issued 17 opinions on companies under foreign control, of which 16 are appealed to the courts, notes Mr. Tsyganov. As Kommersant previously reported, seven of them related to fishing companies, at the time of fixing quotas controlled by Ukrainian businessman Dmitry Dremlyuga. As soon as the ban was introduced, Mr. Dremlyuga transferred the assets to affiliated citizens of Russia.