In Tolyatti, the trial of the case against the former managers of PJSC TOAZ (“Togliattiazot”), accused of embezzling the company's products in the amount of 85 billion rubles, ended. The criminal case was initiated seven years ago at the request of a minority shareholder of the plant of Uralkhim UCC JSC. The process was by correspondence, since all the defendants are currently living abroad, and lasted a year and a half. As a result, the defendants received from eight to a half to nine years in prison. In TOAZ, the case is called “baseless and absurd”, the defense intends to appeal the verdict.
At the end of last week, the Tolyatti Komsomolsky District Court convicted in absentia of the embezzlement of the company's products the former managers of Togliattiazot OJSC Vladimir and Sergey Makhlayev, the former general director of the company Yevgeny Korolev, as well as two co-owners of the Swiss company Nitrochem Distribution AG Beata Ruprecht-Wedemayer and Andreas Zeitre Sieviere Sietiv As a result, father and son Makhlai in absentia received nine years in prison, Evgeny Korolev and Beat Ruprecht-Wedemeyer - eight and a half years, and Andreas Tsivi - nine years. Each of the defendants, the judge Andrei Kirillov, imposed a fine in the amount of 900 thousand rubles as an additional punishment.
In addition, the civil suit of the victims to the accused was satisfied for a total amount of 87 billion rubles, of which 10 billion rubles. must be paid directly to Uralhim, the rest to TOAZ.
The trial in Togliatti began in February 2018, and the criminal case itself on a particularly large-scale fraud (Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) against the top managers of TOAZ was initiated in 2012, according to the application of the minority shareholder of TOAZ "Uralhim". Along with this company, the minor minority shareholder Evgeny Sedykin (0.00019% of the shares) was the victim of the case, and TOAZ itself was also recognized as the court. Interestingly, Yevgeny Sedykin in 2017 was sentenced to four years on probation for attempted fraud and forgery of documents.
According to the investigation, the managers of TOAZ sold the products of the enterprise to their foreign counterparties at reduced prices, and those, in turn, sold it at market prices. The investigation has estimated all stolen production in 85 billion rbl. Uralchem insisted (the investigation and the court agreed with it) that the company had the right to a part of the products, the damage to the company was estimated at 10 billion rubles - in proportion to the share of Uralchem in the company's shares.
The defense, in turn, insisted that Uralhim did not have rights to the products produced by the plant: during these years, the company received contract revenues for allegedly stolen products in the amount of more than 65.5 billion rubles, which was its market value, paid salaries, taxes to the budget and dividends to shareholders. The calculation of the cost of production, in the opinion of the lawyers on which the charge was based, contains gross errors and was biased by experts.
The process was accompanied by various scandals. In particular, the defense argued that an electronic document with the indictment was created by Uralhim, which, according to lawyers, could be found in the properties of the file received by the parties. The lawyers also noted that the prosecution widely recruited so-called classified witnesses, who answered questions from another hall with the help of an audio link with a change of voice. In addition, the defense was not able to interrogate Natalia Semilyutina, one of the authors of the expert opinion on the undervaluation of market prices by TOAZ. The court found that due to mathematical errors, the amount of damage was overestimated by experts by 6 billion rubles, but Mrs. Semilyutin did not come to the process, citing illness. The second expert, Sergei Valentey, was not questioned either during the investigation or in court.
Another scandalous situation was created by the prosecution of Oleg Antoshin, the former head of the security service of TOAZ, as a witness for the prosecution. He testified via video link from the Lefortovo SIZO, where he has been in custody since 2017 on charges of trafficking in arms and explosives. As reported by Kommersant, Oleg Antoshin, according to the investigators, was a member of the criminal group of former security guard Boris Berezovsky, Sergei Sokolov, who, with the help of throwing weapons on the territory of TOAZ, intended to discredit the heads of the company by order of one of the financial and industrial groups.
After questioning witnesses by the prosecution judge Andrei Kirillov dramatically accelerated the process and changed the schedule of meetings, as a result, according to the defense, a number of witnesses from her did not interrogate at all. And on the eve of the debate, one of the lawyers of TOAZ, Denis Simachev, said in court that the investigation allegedly illegally offered one of his colleagues to become an informer on defense plans.
“This is a verdict in the case of the theft, which was not. The court ignored the evidence confirming the legality and economic feasibility of the supply of products to the Nitrochem company by TOAZ using far-fetched pretexts, and sometimes completely without motivation. Judicial conclusions are based on materials, the unreliability of which is obvious. We hope to bring this position to a higher court, where we will appeal immediately, ”said Alexander Gofshtein, lawyer of Sergey Makhlay, following the results of the process.
“PJSC TOAZ categorically disagrees with the conviction, considers it inconsistent with the actual circumstances of the criminal case established during the trial, as well as made with gross violations of the requirements of the criminal procedure legislation of the Russian Federation. PJSC TOAZ appeals the court’s verdict in the manner prescribed by law, the company’s statement reads. “Togliattiazot” has repeatedly stated that it considers the criminal case to be groundless and absurd, initiated by minority shareholders of Uralchem JSC and E. Sedykin, who are in a multi-year corporate conflict with PJSC TOAZ, in order to raider seize our successful enterprise. PJSC TOAZ does not consider itself to be the injured party in the case and does not agree with the presence of any damage. All the allegedly stolen products from 2008–2011 were sold under formal contracts and at the highest possible prices, and the proceeds for the products were transferred to the company's settlement accounts in full. ” “Separately, it is worth noting the unprecedented pressure faced by the leaders, the workforce and even legal advisors of Togliattiazot, both at the investigation stage and in the course of legal proceedings ... PJSC TOAZ will continue to take all legal measures to protect minority shareholders against unfair actions, ”said Petr Ordzhonikidze, chairman of the board of directors of the company, in a statement.
“Uralchem Company, as the injured party, considers the decision of the court reasonable and fair,” Dimitri Tatianin, deputy general director — Director for Legal Affairs of Uralkhim UCC, commented on the situation. ”Despite the complexity and complexity of the criminal case, the court showed scrupulousness in the approach to the study of numerous materials and testimonies of witnesses. Such a verdict gives hope that the damage inflicted to the budgets of different levels, as well as to the victims - the TOAZ plant and the Uralchem company - will be reimbursed in full. ”