The American claim to Sberbank and Herman Gref worth $750 million can be canceled

One of the defendants found a way to remove the plaintiff from the case.
The hearing scheduled for April 20 in the court of the Southern District of New York in the case of PPF Management (has nothing to do with the Czech PPF Group) against Sberbank, its president Herman Gref and others for $750 million may not take place. On April 12, the same court will consider the petition of one of the defendants in the case, Alexey Bazarnov. He asks to give him the power to represent the interests of Sergey Poymanov, the former owner of the largest producer of rubble, Pavlovskgranit, in this matter.

At the end of last year, Poymanov assigned the right of claim against Sberbank, Gref, and others to PPF Management registered in Delaware. And it sued for $750 million, accusing the defendants of the raider capture of Pavlovskgranit.

Bazarnov is the financial manager of the Poymanov's bankruptcy case in Russia. He asks the US court to recognize Poymanov's bankruptcy in Russia as "the main foreign proceeding," and also to assign him the status of "foreign representative" of Poymanov in the US court. This follows from a case published in the electronic system of American justice.

Bazarnov notes that Poymanov was declared bankrupt, all his property under Russian law should have been placed in the bankruptcy estate, including the right to recover from third parties compensation for the court. The cession of claims to third parties is illegal, Bazarnov concludes.

"Bazarnov is a party to the collusion, and therefore he can not a priori represent my interests in Russia, Cyprus, or even Mars," Poymanov is indignant. Under what conditions a businessman assigned the right to claim to PPF, he does not say.

Who is responsible

Defendants of the suit of PPF are Sberbank, its president Herman Gref, Sberbank Capital and its general director Ashot Khachaturyants, Neo Center and its vice-president Oleg Gref, co-owner of the National Non-metallic Company Yuri Zhukov, as well as several other legal entities and individuals.

Bazarnov became the financial manager of Poymanov in a lawsuit on bankruptcy of individuals in mid-2016. According to the documents of the Moscow Arbitration Court, Poymanov's main creditor is Suintex Limited. The company in 2011 received from Atlantic LLC the right to demand 2.1 billion rubles from the former businessman.

Atlantic itself got the right to demand Poymanov to pay RUB 4.6 billion from "Sberbank of Capital",which, in turn, can claim it from Sberbank. Poymanov's debt was formed when in 2010 Pavlovskgranit-invest, owned by him, ceased to service Sberbank's loan for 5.1 billion rubles (for this loan, the businessman had a personal guarantee).

PPF in a lawsuit in November 2016 argued that Bazarnov in September had tried to replace a law firm representing Poymanov's interests in Cypriot courts. Poymanov confirmed this and added that the replacement of the law firm was not yet fully executed. But if the process is completed, then other lawyers hired by Bazarnov can withdraw all of his claims from Cypriot courts for a total of 200 million euros.

Bazarnov declined to comment.

Indeed, since Poymanov is bankrupt on the territory of Russia, the financial manager acts in his interests, while he takes into account the interests of creditors who are going to partially repay their debts, says BMS Law Firm partner Denis Frolov. "It is possible that Sberbank wants to loop the scheme, replace the representative Poymanov in court and thus withdraw all claims against the defendants," Frolov said. But even if the court in the Southern District of New York rejects Bazarnov's statement and satisfies the lawsuit of PPF, and the latter shares its winnings with Poymanov, then this money will still have to go to partial debt repayment, the lawyer argues.

The representative of Sberbank notes that the bank is aware of the situation, but "is not a party involved in this case." He did not answer other questions.

From the point of view of Russian law, a financial manager in bankruptcy cases should act as a representative of individuals, says Anton Samokhvalov, partner of the KIAP Law Office. Moreover, the financial manager has every right to wedge in the process and act on behalf of the bankrupt, since all transactions since the beginning of the procedure for the sale of property are made only with the consent of the financial manager, in this case Bazarnov's, says the lawyer. If the transaction occurred without the knowledge of the manager, then it is recognized null and void, it doesn't even require a court order. "It's another matter whether a court in the United States recognizes a bankruptcy process in Russia: international law does not always provide continuity in this matter," Samokhvalov argues.