The owners of Russol appeared from offshore

Russia's largest producer of salt disclosed all its beneficiaries.
16.01.2017
RBC
Origin source
The largest domestic producer of salt, Russol, revealed its beneficiaries. In addition to general director Sergey Cherny, among them were named two businessmen from Orenburg: Aram Ekavyan and Sergey Levin, who previously had dealt with oil and gas business.

Six well-known persons

Cyprus offshore company Russalt Limited, which operates the largest salt producer in Russia, Russol, published information on its beneficiaries. As follows from the Cypriot registry data at the disposal of RBC, in the beginning of January 2017, the company carried out several operations within Russolo, following which it turned out to have six owners, private individuals. Two of them had already been mentioned in the media as people associated with Russolo: CEO Sergey Cherny and head of Roskachestvo, Maxim Protasov, who own 48.5 and 1.5% shares, respectively. Other Russalt Limited shareholders are Sergey Levin (28.34%), Aram Ekavyan (5%), as well as Sergey and Polina Zakharovs (11.12 and 5.54%, respectively).

Russol was created in 2008 on the basis of the Astrakhan company Bassol and Orenburg Iletsk-sol. In Orenburg Oblast, Aram Ekavyan and Sergey Levin are known as top businessmen. Apart from Russol, they have other joint assets with Sergey Cherny. In particular, all three of them are among the shareholders of Vorstadt Bank, which, according to Banki.ru, has 189th place among Russian banks and the first in Orenburg Oblast with asset size of more than 14.6 billion rubles. According to the statement the Bank of Russia dated August 20, 2014, Ekavyan has 43.1% of the bank, Cherny has 6.8%, and Levin has 50% via OOO Energoinvest. According to the Vorstadt's website, all of them are also members of the Board of Directors of Russolo.

In the 1990s - early 2000s, Ekavyan's and Levin's activities was associated with the oil and gas industry. According to Kommersant, prior to 2006, Aram Ekavyan was a minority shareholder (6.14%) of Salavatnefteorgsintez until he sold his stake, which the publication estimated at $ 55-60 million.

Levin, according to SPARK, owns 100% of OOO Orensal. The main activities of the company are the purchase and sale of land plots. However, the OKVED list of sectoral accessories so included trade and transportation of natural gas. In 2006, Orensal took 73rd place in the ranking of the largest non-public Russian companies, according to Forbes, with revenues of $590 million. In the ranking, the company has been designated as a supplier of gas and oil condensate.

Maxim Protasov, before he headed Roskachestvo, had been known as the owner and founder of the investment company P-Holding, which controls assets in engineering, mining and agricultural sectors, including shares in canned food manufacturer Pomidorprom (trademarks Lutik and Ogorodnikov), creamery Sarepta, meat processor Gourmet, AFG National holding. After his appointment as head of Roskachestvo, Protasov, according to his representative, sold or reduced the size of packets belonging to him to less than blocking ones and passed his remaining shares to the management company.

All RBC's attempts to find information about Polina and Sergey Zakharovs failed. However, before, their namesake Vitaly Zakharov headed the board of directors of Bassol. According to the register, in December 2010, it "ceased operations upon accession."

What is Russol

Russol Group includes Bassol, Iletsk-sol and Usolsky Solepromysel, located, respectively, in Astrakhan, Orenburg and Irkutsk Oblasts. According to SPARK, the company's revenue in 2015 amounted to 5.4 billion rubles (data for 2016 are not yet published). Rusprodsoyuz Association names the company the largest salt producer in Russia. Second place is occupied by the East-Siberian Commercial and Industrial Company (VSTPK), which owns Tiretsky salt mine in Irkutsk Oblast. In July 2016, VSTPK came under the control of Artyom Chaika, according to some sources, the son of the Prosecutor General of Russia.

Deoffshorization of salt

The management of Russol was unavailable for comment on its shareholder's list. 

The lawyer of the Moscow Bar Association Karabanov and Partners, Alexander Karabanov. believes that the disclosure of the owners' personalities may be associated with the campaign of 'deoffshorization', which was announced in Russia.  Moreover, the Federal Tax Service has already proved it is able to receive quick information from foreign colleagues, and find individuals it is interested in.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly talked about the need to 'deoffshorize' the Russian economy. "Grey schemes, the withdrawal of assets in offshore companies, concealing the owners of shares are not allowed," he said.

Many business leaders listened to the president's words attentively. In December 2014, Alisher Usmanov's USM Holdings announced the completion of the reorganization of its structure and the transfer of key assets, Megafon and Metalloinvest, to the Russian holding companies.

By the end of 2015, Volga Group changed its ownership scheme, the beneficiary of which is the billionaire Gennady Timchenko. He himself became the owner of 99.99% Volga Group, and 0.01% of the company belongs to Volga Group Holding. Previously these shares, according to the register, belonged to Cyprus-registered Volga Resources Ltd and the Luxembourg company VRN Sarl.

In 2016, Roman Abramovich transferred his 24% of the First Channel, Viktor Vekselberg - his Akado, RKS, Orgsintez and Airports of Regions and Mikhail Prokhorov 59.27% of PJSC Quadra to the Russian jurisdiction. 

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