As it became known to Kommersant, despite the most complicated relations between Russia and the United States, American courts not only rule in favor of Russian financial institutions, but also enforce them. BM-Bank (former Bank of Moscow, owned by VTB) has obtained the alienation of the Craig Valley Plaza shopping center in Las Vegas from its large debtor, the former owner of the Cherkizovsky market Telman Ismailov, who is on the international wanted list for committing serious crimes in the Russian Federation. The asset was sold in the gaming capital of America, and the money for it will go to the bank. At the same time, Mr. Ismailov himself is now also wanted by Turkey in a criminal case on the withdrawal from the claims of Mardan Palace, which is also claimed by the structure of VTB.
The story of debt collection from Telman Ismailov has been going on since 2017. Then BM-Bank appealed to the District Court of Nicosia (Republic of Cyprus) with the requirement to oblige a number of Cypriot banks to disclose information on the accounts of the Seychelles company of the ex-owner of the Cherkizovsky market Vesto Trading LTD, which, like himself, was a guarantor for a loan totaling $ 177 million issued to another company of Mr. Ismailov - Rusline 2000 LLC. The court granted the relevant application, and the creditor received information on the movement of funds in Vesto's accounts. In it, transfers were found in the amount of more than $ 8 million for the purchase of the Craig Valley Plaza shopping center in Las Vegas in 2014, when Rusline had already stopped servicing a loan received from BM Bank. The balance holder of the shopping center was Marker Craig LLC, and the niece of Mr. Ismailov, Nailya Sadikhova, was its participant.
In May 2017, the bank's lawyers appealed to the Las Vegas court (Clark County, Nevada, USA) with a statement of claim against Marker Craig LLC for recognition of fraudulent transactions with Vesto. Interim measures were imposed on the shopping center itself, restricting the disposal of property. Despite the fact that American legal consultants have repeatedly pointed out that US courts satisfy similar claims only in exceptional cases and, in fact, the chances of success in this category of cases are minimal, representatives of BM-Bank managed to prove that Mr. Ismailov and people affiliated with him used an extensive network legal entities to withdraw credit funds. As a result, the court established the fraudulent nature of the movement of funds from guarantors controlled by Mr. Ismailov to the purchase of a shopping center in Las Vegas. It should be noted that Craig Valley Plaza covers an area of about 7 thousand square meters. m. The shopping center, consisting of five one-story buildings, previously belonged to the famous American Nazarian family of Persian-Jewish origin.
In agreement with BM Bank, Craig Valley Plaza was sold to an independent buyer at market prices, provided that the proceeds from the sale of the shopping center would be frozen in the account pending a court decision.
After a lengthy trial in the Clark County court, the case was transferred to one of the arbitration courts in the state of Nevada. Consideration of the case on its merits took place from September 28 to October 2, 2020. Each court session was held in video-conference mode and lasted an average of eight hours. As part of the cross-examination, representatives of the plaintiff and defendants were interviewed, including experts, Telman Ismailov's niece Nailya Sadikhova and his legal and financial advisor Yulia Gaidukova.
At the same time, within the framework of this case, a counterclaim was also considered in the amount of about $ 22.3 million from the defendants to BM Bank to recover damages related to the allegedly illegal restrictive measures against the shopping center.
Having considered the dispute on the merits, the arbitrator, former US federal judge Philip Martin Pro, established the existence of specific facts of fraud, confirming the position of the applicant that Mr. Ismailov used fraud to dispose of the credit funds. It was also acknowledged that the defendants deliberately tried to mislead the court as to the factual circumstances of the case. At the same time, according to the court's decision, the testimonies of witnesses Sadikhova and Gaidukova were found to be untrustworthy. According to the final decision made on March 14 this year, the bank's claims against the defendants to recover $ 3.2 million from them were satisfied in full. In the near future, the bank should receive money frozen in the United States pending a court decision. The counterclaim by the defendants was dismissed.
It should be noted that the structures of VTB are also claiming other assets of Telman Ismailov.
So, in January 2021, the Turkish Court of Cassation issued a ruling, upholding the decisions of lower courts on the legality of BM Bank's application for recognizing AST Insaat (the guarantor for the borrowed obligations of Rusline 2000 LLC, Mr. Ismailov) bankrupt. The bank's claims were included in the register of creditors' claims AST Insaat in the amount of about 15 billion rubles. By the way, AST Insaat's bankruptcy estate includes liquid assets that were previously on the company's balance sheet, which are part of the architectural complex of the infamous Mardan Palace hotel - detached villas and a stadium. The procedure for the sale of assets should take place by the end of 2021. Interestingly, BM-Bank appealed not only to Turkish courts, but also to the Antalya prosecutor's office, where a criminal case was initiated on fraud against Mr. Ismailov and partners. It, in particular, deals with the fraudulent disposal of an asset in the form of Mardan Palace, which was claimed by a creditor from Russia.
Now the Turkish prosecutor's office is seeking the issuance of an international arrest warrant for Telman Ismailov and a number of persons affiliated with him. Russia is looking for him for organizing murders and kidnapping.
The debts of Mr. Ismailov and his structures to BM-Bank amount to about 13.7 billion rubles. and $ 170 million.
Kommersant failed to promptly get comments from Mr. Ismailov and his representatives. “We welcome the decision of the Nevada Arbitration Court to uphold our claims against the former owners of Craig Valley Plaza in Las Vegas to recover $ 3,224,374 in money withdrawn from fraudulent transactions. In the future, the bank will take all the necessary actions within the framework of the current legislation in order to pay off the debt of the companies of the AST group to VTB, ”the press service of the credit institution noted.