The High Court of London on the suit Vneshprombank (VPB) arrested the assets of bank co-owner Georgy Bedzhamova at 1.34 billion pounds sterling ($ 1.75 billion), a bank representative told Vedomosti. This happened at the end of March, the property was frozen throughout the world, he specified. A representative of the Deposit Insurance Agency (DIA, bank liquidator) confirmed that Bedjam's assets were frozen at the request of the VPB.
Among the arrested assets are villas in the Italian Sant'Aniello and the French Cap d’Ay, 33% of the 5-star Badrutt’s Palace Hotel in St. Moritz in Switzerland, real estate in London Belgravia, land in the Moscow region, the Vedomosti interviewees. The court forbade Bedjamov to dispose of these assets and decided to disclose to the court others worth over £ 50,000, wherever they are, they add.
Bedjamov is also forbidden to leave the territory of England and Wales, he must pass a passport.
In addition, the High Court of London decided to limit spending Bedzhamov, continue to the interlocutors "Vedomosti". He can continue to spend 35,000 pounds a week for rental housing if he has a contract, as well as 10,000 pounds per week stay. Also, he is allowed to spend “a reasonable amount on legal services and representation”, the representatives of the plaintiff retell: “But before spending any money, the defendant must tell the plaintiff where he will take it.” Bejamov can conduct operations that do not affect the blocked assets of 1.34 billion pounds, but it is forbidden to transfer money or assets to companies directly or indirectly owned by or controlled by Bejamov; in addition, when making a transaction or a series of transactions worth more than 50,000 pounds, you must inform the claimant’s representatives within 48 hours, the Vedomosti interlocutors quote.
For non-compliance with the decision, Bedjamov faces charges of contempt of court, imprisonment and confiscation of assets.
How did VPB fall
VPB was in the top 50 banks and specialized in working with eminent clients. His collapse in January 2016 was the largest case of falsifying financial statements in Russian history: the Central Bank estimated the hole in the bank at 216 billion rubles.
The largest industrial companies of Russia, their top managers, high-ranking officials and their relatives were served at VPB. The money of the wives of Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, son-in-law of Transneft President Nikolai Tokarev and relatives of Arthur Chilingarov, a member of its board of directors, hung in the bank, Forbes wrote. The money was kept by the son of the then head of the presidential administration Sergey Ivanov, State Duma deputy Vladislav Reznik and his wife, as well as the former head of the Duma’s financial committee, Natalia Burykina, and others.
Larisa Markus, Bedzhamov’s sister, who was heading the VSPB, was immediately arrested: the court sentenced her to 8.5 years in a penal colony. Bedjamov left the country - in March 2016 he was arrested in absentia and put on international wanted list. Bedjamov was detained in Monaco, but from there he was allowed to go to the UK for health reasons.
Court without defendant
This is the second successful case of freezing assets of beneficiaries of collapsed banks for the DIA as a bankruptcy trustee. In 2016, the High Court froze the assets of Sergei Pugachev, the founder of Mezhprombank, at 75 billion rubles.
The DIA entrusted the persecution of Bedjamov in a London court to A1, an investment unit of Alfa Group.
“The agency collects damages in partnership with A1. A1 finances and coordinates legal proceedings, searches for assets in foreign jurisdictions and levies a penalty on them, ”the DIA CEO Yury Isaev told Vedomosti.
“The VBF Creditors' Committee approved A1, and in December we filed a lawsuit with the High Court of London, since Bedjam now lives there. In March, we appealed to the court to arrest the assets, ”says Alexander Zablotskis, director of the legal department of A1.
The case was heard without Bedjamov’s appeal to the court and was held behind closed doors, as there were fears that he would try to leave the country, he said. In the card file of the High Court of London there are no notes on hearing such a case, “Vedomosti” was convinced. The court order was given to Bedzhamov, Zablotskis assured. Contact Bedzhamov or his representatives "Vedomosti" failed.
“Holding an ex parte meeting, that is, without calling the respondent and admitting listeners, is a standard London court practice. The High Court of London decides to freeze at the request of the plaintiff, if he proves that there is a threat that otherwise the decision of the court will be impossible or difficult to execute, ”says Ilya Rachkov, partner at Nektorov, Saveliev & Partners. It is believed that such a risk exists, for example, when the defendant begins to sell off or hide assets, he continues. In this case, the defendant has the right to challenge the arrest, says Rachkov.
Defendants objected, April 10 was a hearing, but the court upheld the order, said Zablotskis.
On all four sides
“Vedomosti” got acquainted with the lawsuit of the SPB against the former owner, representatives of the DIA and A1 confirmed its authenticity. The respondents for it are Bedjamov, his English company Unifleet Technology Ltd and unidentified persons.
Bedjamov, although he did not occupy a managerial position, managed the bank together with his sister, the lawsuit says. “Together they planned and agreed on a fraudulent scheme that was implemented by Markus at the direction of Bedjamov” from May 2009 to December 2015. According to the claimant, this scheme included four types of transactions: issuing fictitious loans to affiliated companies, issuing loans and writing off funds from clients' accounts without their knowledge, as well as issuing knowingly non-performing loans to sham companies.
Under fictitious transactions, VPB issued loans to affiliates with Marcus and Bedjam companies (including Unifleet), the lawsuit says. In the bank’s systems, marks were made about funds issued, although in fact they were not issued, the document says. This money went to repay the real liabilities of Bedjamov and others affiliated with him to the bank. As a result of these actions, Bedzhamov and the companies under his control received at least 3.1 billion rubles, or about £ 35 million, is in the document.
Example: a fictitious loan of $ 5 million issued by VPB on January 31, 2014 to Astartea Management of Cyprus. She converted that amount on the same day - 180 million rubles. - and transferred them to the account of the trading house "Steklostandart", opened in the BBF. StekloStandard used this money to pay off its real debt to the EBU; in total, seven such payments were made, the lawsuit states. “Steklostandart” is controlled by Bedzhamov, which was established during interrogations during the investigation of a criminal case in Russia. The former general director of Steklostandart, Maxim Voznesensky, admitted that Bedzham offered him to head the company - he is the owner of the company.
In addition, the bank secretly entered into loan agreements with customers without their knowledge, the document says, this money was transferred to the customer’s account, after which they were withdrawn in cash using forged documents. From May 2009 to December 2015, 124 such loans were issued. Debt on them is now at least 5.4 billion rubles.
A group of persons led by Bedzhamov and Markus secretly withdrew funds from customer deposits, the lawsuit says. Clients of the GPB had no idea about this - they were provided with false statements in which these operations were not reflected. From December 2014 to August 2015, there were at least 44 such cases in the amount of 7 billion rubles.
VBP also issued loans to pacifier companies. They were obviously unrecoverable: companies (often offshore) did not conduct any activity, did not reflect the receipt of loans in the financial statements. The FBI identified loans to fake companies in the first quality category, and the credit quality of borrowers was rated as good or excellent - this allowed the bank not to create reserves. There were more than 1,000 such loans, and the debt on them today is 101 billion rubles. As a result of these transactions, VPB was damaged by 116.6 billion rubles. (about 1.4 billion pounds), the document says.