Despite serious disagreements between Russia and Britain, whose law enforcement agencies have ceased to cooperate with each other, the High Court of London continues to review cases related to the Russian Federation. He ruled in favor of the Bank of Moscow (part of VTB Group), filed a lawsuit about fraud to the ex-head of the JFC group of companies Vladimir Kekhman, who later headed the Mikhailovsky Theater and the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theater. The court considered that Mr. Kekhman received two large loans in the bank only with the help of falsification of documents and fraud, deciding to recover more than $ 140 million from him.
His decision was made by the Honorable Judge Brian of the Commercial Court of the Royal Bench of the High Court of Justice of England and Wales on 12 April. The claims of the credit institution that is part of the VTB group were reduced to the leading role of Vladimir Kekhman in obtaining two loans from the Bank of Moscow in autumn 2011 for $ 140 million and about 305 million rubles. They returned the structures of the group of companies JFC, which was the main supplier to the Russian market of bananas and other fruits, were not. The JFC itself was declared bankrupt in 2015.
In their lawsuit, representatives of the Bank of Moscow indicated that Mr. Kekhman was the beneficiary of the group and personally supervised all of its activities, including through the top manager Julia Zakharova. In support of their claims, lawyers pointed out that JFC employees, led by Mrs. Zakharova, made false financial statements of the group of companies. In particular, according to the bank, the revenue of JFC for 2010 was overstated by $ 213 million, and receivables - by $ 198 million. In fact, the work of the banana corporation was unprofitable. Visibility of real success was created due to fictitious contracts for the supply of the same bananas by some firms that were not formally part of the JFC, but, as it turned out, they were under the control of the employees of the group of companies from its Cypriot office. According to the Bank of Moscow, which was supported by Judge Brian, Vladimir Kekhman was aware of this. As follows from the court's decision (available to Kommersant), Mr. Kekhman also knew that 50% of the shares of JFC Group Holding (BVI) Limited holding company were pledged to Sberbank. However, these facts were hidden from the Bank of Moscow, since otherwise he would not have lent to the suppliers of bananas.
The third point of the bank's claims was the withdrawal by Vladimir Kekhman of JFC assets into off-shores on the eve of the planned financial collapse of the group of companies.
Mr. Kehman, who presented written evidence to the London court, and personally visited the trial, denied his involvement in the frauds. He insisted that in 2007 he moved away from business, focusing on the management of the Mikhailovsky Theater. According to his version, the documentation was faked in the court by the financial director JFC Yulia Zakharova, while the responsibility for bank loans rested on Andrei Afanasyev, who was the general director of ZAO "JF Group." Also, Mr. Kekhman insisted on his non-involvement with the firms to which JFC money was deducted. However, despite Mr. Kehman's promise to tell the truth and only the truth, Judge Brian did not believe him.
I have no doubt that Mr. Kekhman is not a true witness, "the judge said, describing him as an" unscrupulous, dishonest and unsatisfactory "defendant, due to his tendency to" invent facts "and" unimaginable explanations. "
It should be noted that testimony against Vladimir Kekhman was given in London by Andrey Afanasyev, who stated that he and Mrs. Zakharova were instruments in the hands of their chief who made all the decisions. Also, the court agreed with the statement about the withdrawal of tens of millions of dollars, not only to ensure the seller of fruit who left for the theater life, but also to his development projects.
At the same time, Judge Brian cited and attached to the case the correspondence of former JFC staff, which said, in part: "It's time to rummage through this shit, this cesspool has bothered, tired of lying to the auditors." As a result, the court, assessing the ways of earning funds, Mr. Kekhman, decided to recover from him more than $ 140 million, as well as legal costs. Earlier, Vladimir Kekhman was recognized as a personal bankrupt, both in England and at home, and more than once stated that he had no assets. However, creditors, doubting the sincerity of the defendant, are going to look for them in Russia and abroad.
"The bank will continue to seek the repayment of the debt of CJSC" JF Group "by all available methods in accordance with the law," the press service of the VTB Group told Kommersant, expressing satisfaction with the decision of the London court.
Moreover, after coming into force, it can also become the basis for a new criminal case against Mr. Kekhman. Earlier, both he and the testimony in London, Yulia Zakharova and Andrey Afanasyev, were the defendants of the criminal case on a particularly large fraud in the sphere of lending (part 4, article 159.1 of the Criminal Code) and laundering of criminal proceeds (part 2, article 174.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation ), according to which the damage done to banks that subsidized JFC, exceeded 20 billion rubles. However, the investigative department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs terminated it after the expiration of the statute of limitations, after the charge was re-qualified for illegal receipt of loans (Article 176 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation).
Mr. Kekhman himself told Kommersant that he had heard about the decision of the London court, the text of which is being studied by his lawyers. At the same time he refrained from detailed comments.