RBC Investigation: what Ukrainian oligarch Kurchenko does in Russia

The owner of VETEK Holding Sergey Kurchenko, according to the Ukrainian media is one of the closest persons to the "family" of President Viktor Yanukovych. They both fled from Ukraine at about the same time, and both appeared in Russia.
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Kurchenko unlike Yanukovich's press conference does not, but the RBC magazine managed to find him and ask him about the affairs and business, with its headquarters now works in Moscow.

In the spring of 2014, shortly after the Ukrainian revolution, office block with a tower on the waterfront in the "Moscow City" filled with new tenants. Gloomy young men in tracksuits and girls of model appearance with packages of trendy shops looking strangers in the elevators on the background of the same standard-clerks. They climbed to the 46th floor, where visitors are greeted by guards armed with machine guns with short barrels.

There is an office "Gazneft service", the management company of holding "Eastern European Energy Company" (VETEK) belonging to one of the most mysterious Ukrainian oligarchs 29-year-old Sergei Kurchenko. In just a few years, he monopolized the Ukrainian market of petroleum products, and VETEK boasted an annual turnover of $ 10 billion. Why Kurchenko office in Moscow, and that he was going to do in Russia?


Sergey Kurchenko appeared in Moscow in early Marchof the year, say, two sources close to the oligarch in Russia. Young blond favoring crisp white shirt without a tie, drove in transit through Minsk. Removing a house in the area of ​​Serebryany Bor, as worksites Kurchenko uses two offices - in the "Moscow City" in the heart of the capital, on Volkhonka. Dine in the restaurant likes to "Turandot" and, according to neighbors in Serebryany Bor, often partying with excessively loud music.

Moving Kurchenko to Moscow coincides with the escape from the Ukraine to Russia Other notable Ukrainian refugee, Viktor Yanukovych. February 25, 2014, RBC wrote that Yanukovych had seen in Moscow, and after three weeks the media have attributed to him the purchase of a three-storey cottage in the village of "Gardens Mayendorf" on Rublevo-Uspensky highway. First reported by in Twitter Oleg Mitvol, the chairman of People's Party "Green Alliance": "Yanukovych is now a resident of Moscow ... And the weather Kiev ... We can congratulate our Ukrainian brothers with the acquisition of refugee homes yesterday in Barvikha for $ 52 million. Rublevke glory! "With Yanukovychmagazine «Forbes Ukraine" tied resounding success Sergei Kurchenko.

Dear its capital

The appearance in Moscow Kurchenko prepared ahead of time, gradually increasing communication in Russia. In 2013, the selection of personnel for the oligarch companies became involved in one of the largest headhunting agency Ward Howell Russia. "My company has more than a year does not work with Mr. Kurchenko me on this subject has nothing to say right now," - said the magazine "RBC" senior partner of Ward Howell George Abdushelishvili.

Earlier, in an interview to «Forbes Ukraine" Abdushelishvili willingly listed company hired employees: lawyer Leonid Sedov, who previously worked at a top law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, the former vice-president and head of group public relations Sberbank Yuri Rivne. Oil business VETEK led by Alexander Kaplan, former Deputy Executive Vice President, Downstream, TNK-BP, Leonid Rosenberg, who previously held the position of Vice President, Downstream, TNK-BP, and former top manager of Ukrainian "daughters" TNK-BP Eugene Kalinin.

According Ptsevidtsev, the cost of attracting eminent employees Kurchenko not considered: "Imagine you have a salary based on bonuses and other allowances was 5 rubles, and you will immediately offer 50 rubles. Many just fell off the remaining issues, "- says one of the former employees VETEK.

Having succeeded in business, Kurchenko began to feel uncomfortable because of lack of knowledge: a passionate lover of hunting and motorcycles, for example, he did not speak in English, communicate with partners accounted for through an interpreter. To broaden my horizons, Kurchenko hire Russian consultants who organized oligarch personal lectures on European history, art and painting, religious studies. One lesson was devoted to the world of football, technology, oil production and processing, wine and winemaking history of the largest corporations and the great business of the present and even the sights of Kiev, told RBC one of the consultants on the condition of anonymity. Moscow stylists received tempting offers for the selection of clothes: the wish list featured customer buying sneakers for $ 2 thousand.

Correspondentespondenta RBC Kurchenko takes negotiating in one of the Moscow skyline. On the walls - pictures of modern artists, on a shelf - a book on the history of art and gilded mock oil platform. Way in the Moscow office, Sergei Kurchenko started in Kharkov.

"Broken transit"

Kurchenko became publicly known when bought Kharkiv football club "Metalist" in November 2012. Soon there was a biography of his club's new president's website, which has been named head of the Kharkov company "GazUkraina 2009". In the oil and gas market of Ukraine the name of the trader has been known for several years.

In 2010, "GazUkraina 2009" for the first time won a few auctions for the sale of liquefied natural gas, and in 2012, according to «Forbes Ukraine" to the magazine, the company's structure each month sold about 40 thousand. Tons of liquefied gas, earning on each tonne of $ 750- 1100.

In 2012, Sergei Kurchenko appeared on the oil trading market structure and immediately proved to be among the largest exporters and importers of oil. As he wrote «Forbes Ukraine &raquo ;, has used the scheme of "ragged transit", which allowed the evasion of excise duties and VAT (petrol was imported as a transit product, and according to the documents shipped to another country, and in fact sold out within Ukraine).

"This is not a know-how Kurchenko similar schemes involved the last five years, its achievement is on a scale with which it launched its operations, and officials who did not pay any attention to him," - said Ukrainian oil trader. According to his estimates, in 2011-2012 the company Kurchenko imported monthly 250-300 thousand. Tons of gasoline in a total volume of Ukrainian market of about 400 thousand. Tonnes. These amounts confirm one of the former employees VETEK and former high-ranking Ukrainian official familiar with Kurchenko. According to RBC sources, the scheme "ragged transit" Kurchenko bring companies up to $ 500 margin per ton of gasoline. He wanted to earn more by selling gasoline, through its network of filling stations, but this business has developed slowly over two years businessman going to set up a network of more than 700 gas stations, but by the end of 2013, the number nie greater than 200.

Kurchenko conducted its business with a win-win schemes, "One people, he said that he came from Firtash [Ukrainian billionaire who made a fortune in the gas trade. - Approx. RBC], and the other - that of Pshonka [former Prosecutor General of Ukraine. - Approx. RBC]. As some others have not communicated, it worked. Then it was "by Klimenko," [former minister of taxes and fees in Ukraine. - Approx. RBC], "by Arbuzov '[former head of the National Bank of Ukraine. - Approx. RBC], then "from the family" [the name stuck to the Ukrainian mass media for the family members of the former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and the immediate environment. - Approx. RBC] ... When people meet, it is very surprised that he was from one or the other ", - he told the newspaper" Ukrainian Truth ", former acting chapter "Ukrhazvydobuvannia" Alex Tamrazov.

Ukrainian business is similar to the Russian mid-90s, and can be compared with Russian businessmen Kurchenko that period - Abramovich, Deripaska, according to a former employee Kurchenko. Like them, the founder VETEK at some point thought about creating a great business-Artruktury and about their image.

Consolidation and whitewashing

In 2013 Kurchenko decided to combine hundreds of the companies, the owners of the documents which the number of different people, in holding "VETEK". A legal entity with the same name has been created, but has not received any assets and virtually did nothing. "The desire was, but stopped after business card printing. Like the rest of the operation to "whitewash", - says one of the employees VETEK.

Creation of vertically integrated oil companies was a key project VETEK. Due to the absence of import duties and market filling with cheap fuel, which is imported to Ukraine company Kurchenko Refining was disadvantageous in the country, so were stopped Odessa Refinery (owned by LUKOIL), Kherson refinery (owned by Ukrainian businessman Igor Eremeev) and most modern in Ukraine Lisichansk refinery owned by TNK-BP. company creation plan was simple: buy the Odessa and Lysychansk refinery, run the oil pipeline Odessa - Brody oil pipeline, which would allow to directly receive Russian oil and set to expandGas station. But the project stalled at the start.

Kurchenko acquired LUKOIL Odessa Refinery stopped: a loan of $ 300 million to buy the company issued a Russian bank "VTB". At the request of then-Prime Minister of Ukraine Mykola Azarov, according to partner Kurchenko. VTB declined to comment.

In the summer of 2013 Kurchenko acquired based Borys Lozhkyn Ukrainian Media Holding (UMH, unites Ukrainian editions of the newspaper "Komsomolskaya Pravda", "Arguments and Facts", magazine "Reporter", "of Forbes Ukraine", "Orchid" of Vogue, eight radio stations and a number of internet -site). Ukrainian media assessed the amount of the deal at $ 300-400 million, and the familiar Kurchenko RBC said that he had to pay $ 400 million, $ 150 million were loans to state Ukreximbank. Several journalists left after the transaction included in the UMH publication, fearing that the new owner will introduce censorship. "Whether I am confused what Kurchenko allegedly linked to" family "of Yanukovych? And what should be my confusion? Many businessmen are associated with the current government. And I'm doing my thing, my tasksis to be honest to do a magazine on the editorial policy which Kurchenko does not affect ", - told RBC Glavred« Forbes Ukraine "Mikhail Kotov, who led after the transaction log.

Calculate the real value of assets and companies Ukrainian Kurchenko of Forbes, according to Kotov, can not, therefore, in the hundred richest businessmen Ukrainian oligarch is not included. Besides, it is not very clear, the rating which country should go right now Sergei Kurchenko.

Without the "family" in Russian

"Even if the Ukraine tomorrow will be some kind of effective and adequate power, our main office will be in Russia", - says RBC Kurchenko. The main task for at least the next two years, he stressed, is "the development of Russia and the CIS countries and the protection of what is in the Ukraine."

Kurchenko claims that the criminal cases against him no, but do not agree with the Ukrainian authorities. "We have a case brought against Sergei personally Kurchenko under Article 191, Part 5," Theft in a large scale ", -. He told RBC Advisor to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Anton Gerashchenko. Take thatThe knowledge of on this article - up to 12 years in prison. " In addition, the Prosecutor General of Ukraine opened a criminal case against a number of individuals who were bogus owners and managers of a number of companies included in the area of ​​interest VETEK. These people began to give testimony, claims Gerashchenko. In April this year, he said, was arrested Sergei Kurchenko property. "Odessa refinery, oil and oil products at different tank farms - totaling up to 100 thousand tons." - Lists Gerashchenko.

Therefore, the desire to put down roots in Russia for Kurchenko seems justified. "We are engaged in neftretreydingom, we watch new assets", - he said. Kurchenko disclaims details and does not name a specific transaction. Find traces of the business activity of the former Ukrainian oligarch proved to be difficult. "You can not prove any of that talk about Kurchenko. He did not leave any traces, do not sign any documents: in the signature is always the physical or some other person, "- says one of the former employees VETEK. The Ross he seems to adhere to the same strategy.

While the most noticeable mark - Crimea. Included VETEK company engaged in the supply of fuel from refineries in Belarus and Russian enterprises "Bashneft" and Lukoil in the Crimea. VETEK Structures deliver to the peninsula for about 20 thousand. Tons of oil products per month, say two sources on the Russian oil market. This information is confirmed by one of the participants in the oil market of the Crimea, and Kurchenko refuses to talk about it. Lukoil spokesman declined to comment on cooperation with VETEK, as the representative of "Bashneft", said the company does not supply gasoline to the Crimea and has no contracts with VETEK. At the same time he clarified that "Bashneft" "is a major manufacturer and wholesale supplier of gasoline, including through the exchange, and can not limit the right of buyers in the order of petroleum products."

Fuel is supplied to the Crimea to bypass Ukraine by sea - mainly through the oil terminal "Azovprodukt", owned by the Italian company Decal, in the port of Feodosiya, which is the largest in the regiontank farm.

Since April, the media began to appear about possible deals Kurchenko on purchase of filling stations in the Crimea - "Contemporary", "TPS" and "Lukoil-Ukraine". These three networks, including 118 gas stations account for more than 25% of the retail market of petroleum products Crimea. Kurchenko claims that closed transactions for the purchase of gas stations on the Peninsula there. "The owner has changed", - he stated succinctly RBC representative of one of the networks. "We have appealed to the leadership of the Crimea - Prime Aksenov - with a request to sell the Crimean refueling operators for the development of small and medium-sized businesses. And we did it. Calling the customer will not - it is one "- said in June the president of Lukoil Vagit Alekperov in an interview with the newspaper" Vedomosti ". 'Retail network and LUKOIL tank farm located on the Crimean Peninsula, were sold by the Company after appropriate treatment Crimean leadership. The company did not inform the buyer's name and can not comment on this question ", - told RBC representative of LUKOIL.

It seems to be interested Kurchenko and Central Russia. On the Internet sites for the sale of the business (doski.ru, biznesinfo.ru) placed an offer to purchase petrol stations and tank farms in the Moscow region, as well as in Saratov, Samara, Volgograd, Rostov, Voronezh, Tambov and Lipetsk regions and the Krasnodar Territory . Phones are specified "GazNeft service" in several ads. Its parent company, according to reports, is VETEK Management Limited, one of the group of companies VETEK.

Other proposals for the purchase of gas stations as the contact person listed Igor Rudenko, who until February 2014 he worked in "Rosneft" (He declined to comment). According to the agency "SPARK", Rudenko, head of the company "Premier Oil", 100% of which belongs to the citizen of Belarus Nikolai Vasilevich. In 2013 he headed the direction Vasilevich VETEKa marketing of petroleum products. Recently, "Premier Oil" has received a credit rating of A "Expert RA" agency: the company intends to develop a network of petrol stations in the central and southern region of Russia, as well as engaged in trade in petroleum products, the deputy directorCorporate ratings of "Expert RA" Alexander Gushchin (he refused to explain RBC, on the basis of which the "Premier Oil" got quite high rating).

Player "in Chapaev"

Size Kurchenko status is unknown and not estimated, but in recent years he has allowed himself to buy hundreds of millions of dollars. In Russia, a lot of opportunities to dispose of such amounts. "Russian oil market is more Ukrainian than tenfold. There are many segments, we are studying, and many enter "- agrees Kurchenko, again without going into details.

In Moscow Kurchenko include "understanding and support," emphasizes Alexey Chesnakov, close to the Kremlin director of the Center for Current Politics. "All of the current driven by the Kiev authorities are perceived in Russia with sympathy", - he added.

Kurchenko tries to "become her in Russia," says a source close to the businessman. Including using the media holding UMH. "This is the largest Ukrainian media holding, ideological resource in the country. This is the same trump card hecan play, "- he tells the familiar Kurchenko. At the beginning of the year Kurchenko met with top managers of UMH. "He gathered in Moscow all the chief editors of the holding and said:" Now we are the pro-Russian position, "- said the familiar Kurchenko. RBC Source in "VETEK Media" confirms the meeting but says that the most important "message" oligarch was different: "It's all right, work as before."

September 22, 2014 in Sevastopol, there was a presentation of a new media company called "Skif-media". If we believe the statements of the two RBC sources in the media market, for this is the holding company Sergei Kurchenko. According to a source in the publishing house "Kommersant", two months ago, the Kurchenko approached with an offer of cooperation to the President and CEO, Vladimir ID Zhelonkin and Paul Filenkova. According to the source, the chiefs responded to the proposal Kurchenko consent, but in a conversation with the correspondent of RBC Filenkov stated that "the agreement is not signed."

Kurchenko "was given to the party task" to build in the Crimea media group following the example of erUkrainian United Media Holding (UMH), said a source from the environment businessman: "Since UMH can not exist in the Crimea Sergey creates a new media holding". According to the interlocutor of RBC, a new holding company will include the publication "Telenedelya", "Arguments and Facts", "Komsomolskaya Pravda", "Kommersant" and "Football", release or distribution of which is planned to start in the Crimea.

But whether Kurchenko help "sympathy" of the Kremlin and the efforts to build a media space as an effective business in Russia? Top-manager of one of the Russian oil companies skeptical - Moscow rules are much more complicated, so that the chances of Ukrainian runaway success are low, "These people do not know how to play chess, checkers, too, is not for them. "Chapaev" Only.