State Bank VTB intends to bankrupt "Crystal-Lefortovo"

State Bank intends to bankrupt "Crystal-Lefortovo".
VTB Bank filed for bankruptcy of one of the largest Russian producers of vodka Group of Companies "Crystal-Lefortovo" and companies associated with its main beneficiary Pavel Smetana. Earlier due to financial problems, the group stopped three of its plants, in which it produced, in particular, the brands "Winter Road" and "Old Moscow". They are now pledged to the company of Nikolai Egorov, co-owner of OFK-Bank, another creditor of Kristall-Lefortovo.

As follows from the file of arbitration cases, on Wednesday, PJSC VTB Bank filed bankruptcy petitions with OOO Kristall-Lefortovo and LLC PC Kristall-Lefortovo (one of the factories in the Kursk region). The press service of VTB told Kommersant that the bankruptcy procedure was initiated, as the companies do not fulfill their obligations to the bank. "Pre-trial negotiations did not lead to results," VTB said. The amount of Kristall-Lefortovo debt was not disclosed there.

VTB filed similar claims on Wednesday with four more LLCs: Regionbusinesscontact, Amurskaya Estate, BV Invest and DP Holding. According to SPARK-Interfax, they are connected with the main beneficiary of Kristall-Lefortovo Pavel Smetana. He is 100% controlled by Regionbusinesscontact and DP Holding, through which he owns 20% each in BV Invest and Amur Estate. The remaining 80% of them are owned by Bogdan Klim (in the past he was called one of the founders of Kristall-Lefortovo). Wholesale and retail trade in alcohol is listed among the activities of Regionbusinesskontact, DP Holding and BV Invest. We did not manage to contact Mr. Smetana yesterday. In the "Crystal-Lefortovo" did not comment on the relationship with VTB.

Before submitting applications for bankruptcy, VTB did not file claims for recovery of debts from them. The head of the legal department of Amuleks, Nadezhda Makarova, believes this is evidence that VTB as a lender is well aware of the financial situation of Kristall-Lefortovo: "Hence the conclusion - VTB came to the conclusion that the judicial decision of the issue is futile, because the debtor will not be able to find means to pay off debt ".

Igor Savelyev, general director of the Alcoholic Siberian Group, in an interview with Kommersant in June 2018Igor Saveliev, CEO of the Alcoholic Siberian Group, in an interview with Kommersant in June 2018
We work in the alcohol segment, which has not always enjoyed a good reputation

At the end of 2017 the Group of Companies "Crystal-Lefortovo" was the fourth largest producer of vodka in Russia - 3.86 million decaliters. Its financial indicators are not disclosed. According to Nielsen, in January the company's main brands - Festive, Winter Road and Old Moscow - occupied 1.8%, 1.5% and 0.9% respectively in the vodka market. At the beginning of the year, Kristall-Lefortovo stopped the work of its three plants - in Kursk, Saransk and Samara. The manufacturer explained this by the "huge scale of financial debt" caused by the results of the partnership with the distributor of vodka "Status Groups" in 2017: his debt to Kristall-Lefortovo exceeded 6 billion rubles. Market participants previously told Kommersant that Kristall-Lefortovo was a guarantor for the loans of Status.

VTB is not the only creditor bank, Kristall-Lefortovo. Since the beginning of the year, companies of the group have been sued by the OFC-bank for more than 5 billion rubles. Some of the claims have already been satisfied. The court decision says that the defendant in the course of the hearing referred to the fact that the final beneficiaries OFC-Bank and "Status-groups" partially overlap. The lawyers of Kristall-Lefortovo also pointed out that the bank issued "Status Groups" loans "without compliance with regulatory requirements and proper provision."

One of the beneficiaries of the OFK Bank license lost in April is Nikolai Egorov (25% share), a classmate of President Vladimir Putin and partner of the law firm Egorov, Puginsky, Afanasiev and Partners. From the materials of Rospatent it follows that his company "Apex south" (engaged in growing grapes) at the end of 2017 received from Kristall-Lefortovo two pledges - "Winter Road" and "Old Moscow". Mr. Yegorov's representative confirmed the pledge, but refrained from other comments. Alla Postnova, Kristall-Lefortovo Marketing Director, told Kommersant that the pledge "is not based on transactions between Kristall-Lefortovo and OFK-Bank, but on transactions between Smetana and Egorov, which do not directly concern the alcohol business."