Industrial and financial group Safmar intends to sue international news agency Reuters. As follows from the official announcement of the group, which was published on November 1, we are talking about a lawsuit to protect honor, dignity and business reputation. Structures of Mikhail Gutseriev also demand to refute the agency’s allegations that they are associated with debts of sanitized banks.
The company called the Reuters message “fake,” which, according to its statement, the agency picked up after the Russian version of Forbes magazine.
“In its article of October 31, 2019, using non-public documents and referring, like Forbes magazine, to unnamed sources, the agency rudely violates the principles of objective and honest journalism, deceiving the business community,” the Safmar group believes.
Representatives of the company recalled that Mikhail Gutseriev lost control of Binbank in 1995. In addition, he was not the beneficiary of other lending institutions, including Rost Bank, which are mentioned in the controversial Reuters material. Safmar in its statement emphasizes that the controlling shareholder of these banks was Mikail Shishkhanov.
Mikhail Gutseriev really participated in the work of the Binbank management bodies for several months of 2017. Representatives of the businessman say that this happened in agreement with the regulator, and was associated with the development of a new strategy for Binbank. At the same time, the bank remained under the control of Shishkhanov, who also owned 100% of the Bank’s shares during this period.
Safmar added that neither the group of companies, nor its founder, ever transferred assets to repay debts of Binbank, Rost Bank and other credit organizations.
“The assets that have now appeared on the balance sheet of Trust Bank belonged to Mikail Shishkhanov (including 49% of the shares of A101 Group of Companies, preferred shares of RussNeft and shares of the developer Inteko),” the statement said. At the same time, representatives of Gutseriev noted that the businessman has existing obligations to the Trust, which are fully implemented. “He and the Safmar group enterprises have no other debts to the bank,” they added.
A document published on Friday also said that the Safmar group did indeed buy back from Trust some of the assets that had previously gone to the sanitized banks from Mikhail Shishkhanov. “However, it is not a question of paying off the mythical debt of Mikhail Gutseriev, but of acquiring efficiently operating assets with a high market value.”
Representatives of the group emphasized that neither Safmar nor Gutseriev were the beneficiaries of any non-market transactions related to Binbank and Rost Bank. In the process of rehabilitation of these credit institutions, their new leadership did not make any claims against Mikhail Gutseriev and Safmar. The Bank of Russia did not make such claims.
Safmar suggests that the controversial publications by Reuters and Forbes are designed to destabilize the activities of one of Russia's largest financial and industrial groups, which provides the country with hundreds of thousands of jobs. In this regard, the group will seek refutation of these materials in a judicial proceeding.