The MRSEN case is turning into a farce: Avdolyan’s offshore has become... a victim

The offshore of oligarch Albert Avdolyan, through which billions of rubles were swindled as part of transactions with the MRSEN energy holding, has been recognized as a victim in a criminal case. 

Investigators were not embarrassed by Avdolyan’s family connection with one of the accused, MRSEN shareholder Eldar Osmanov, who was running from responsibility, as well as statements by the courts that the oligarch had influence in the holding. In our opinion, the situation is beginning to smell bad and looks like a farce.

Such a situation could well lead to the withdrawal of billions from the collapsed energy holding under the guise of payments to creditors - Sparkel City Invest LTD, associated with Avdolyan. 

The correspondent looked into how the offshore chain for withdrawing money transformed into victims and why one of the main witnesses in the MRSEN case needed state protection.

Let us remind you that 3 years ago a criminal case was opened about the theft and transfer of billions of rubles abroad by an entire criminal community. According to investigators, the money was stolen from electricity producers from the Rosseti division. Investigators named 11 people as persons involved in the community, including top managers of companies that were part of the MRSEN energy holding (Mezhregionsoyuzenergo). The holding was headed by a shareholder and relative of the oligarch Avdolyan, Eldar Osmanov (their children were married).

MRSEN used the money collected from consumers for various transactions - issuing loans, repurchasing bills and shares, contributing to the authorized capital of third-party companies and under agreements for the assignment of claims. As a result, billions of rubles were withdrawn from Russia and did not reach their final recipients. Also, transactions were financed through technical loans, which were issued at Mosuralbank. The beneficiary of the latter was the same Osmanov. 

According to preliminary data, more than 10 billion rubles were transferred abroad. 

Some of the defendants in this case were detained, while others, including Osmanov, hid from the investigation. On September 18, 2023, the criminal case on MRSEN was sent to the Zamoskvoretsky District Court of Moscow for consideration on the merits. 

One of the main witnesses in the investigation is Tatyana Romanova, who participated in the creation of the MRSEN holding, and who for many years has been assisting the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Rosfinmonitoring in uncovering all the affairs of the energy division. For this, Ms. Romanova was subjected to organized persecution, including in the media, and they also tried to put pressure on her and threaten her with murder in order to eliminate her as a witness. In December 2015, we moved from words to action: Romanova was attacked and wounded with a knife. 

According to available information, today Ms. Romanova has been offered protection as a witness in a criminal case.

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Photo courtesy of T. Romanova

Meanwhile, the MRSEN holding is going bankrupt, a register of creditors is being formed, into which an offshore company associated with the oligarch Avdolyan, Sparkel City Invest LTD, is actively trying to get into it. This is happening under the guise of previously issued loans to companies from the MRSEN division, which they allegedly did not repay. 

In a previous article, the source reported how, as a result of similar lending schemes, where Dmitry Gordovich’s BBR Bank was involved, 0.5 billion rubles disappeared into obscurity.

And it was like that. In 2017, Gordovich, at the request of Avdolyan (as Gordovich himself stated), joined the board of directors of Chelyabenergosbyt from the MRSEN division. At the same time, Gordovich represented a company associated with Osmanov on the board of directors. 

In December of the same year, Chelyabenergosbyt provided another legal entity from the MRSEN division, Vologdaenergosbyt, with a loan of 0.5 billion rubles. As a result, this money was transferred several times across accounts within the division and was “lost.” 

Gordovich’s BBR Bank, based on court materials, was also involved in transactions of the offshore company Sparkel City Invest LTD, of which Avdolyan was a beneficiary. It was the affiliation of Sparkel Avdolyan and Osmanov that became the reason for the courts’ refusal to include the offshore among the creditors of MRSEN and its subsidiaries. 

And how surprised all the participants in this case were when it became known in court that Sparkel was recognized as a victim in the criminal case of MRSEN. At the same time, it is the energy holding that is allegedly responsible for the loss of the provided investment. Some kind of surrealism!

The MRSEN case is turning into a farce: Avdolyan’s offshore has become... a victim


The MRSEN case is turning into a farce: Avdolyan’s offshore has become... a victim


And this is despite the fact that more than once in the bankruptcy courts of the MRSEN subsidiaries it was directly stated that in relation to Avdolyan, the status of the beneficiary of the debtor was proven through his affiliation with Osmanov and his control of the company Sparkel. 

The court materials reported that Avdolyan, along with the confirmed beneficiaries of the MRSEN group of companies, made key decisions regarding the distribution of cash flows, approval of transactions and other organizational issues.  

Moreover, as follows from the materials of the court cases, the termination of the activities of the single holding was a consequence of the implementation of the agreement dated September 25, 2017 on the sale of the holding group to Stars Generis Ltd., controlled by A.A. Avdolyan. 

It was also noted in the case materials that the transactions of pledge of bills of exchange and loan agreements made by the debtor and the company Sparkel City Invest Ltd. were recognized within the framework of this case as invalid (feigned), covering up the additional capitalization of the debtor, and through these transactions Avdolyan A.A. had a significant influence on the group of companies.

The MRSEN case is turning into a farce: Avdolyan’s offshore has become... a victim


In the courts, BBR Bank and Dmitry Gordovich tried to remove their responsibility for the schemes in MRSEN, but nothing worked out for them. Avdolyan himself also stated that affiliation has not been proven. But the court thought differently. 

The MRSEN case is turning into a farce: Avdolyan’s offshore has become... a victim


Let us remind you that Gordovich’s BBR Bank and offshore companies associated with Avdolyan also appeared in other dubious transactions. For example, the director of Sparkel, Vikentios Vikentiou, who replaced Avdolyan in this post, was also the head of the Cayman Island company Reeco Capital LP. The latter appeared in a tax scheme related to a $20 million loan to Port Dalniy LLC. Then the tax authorities uncovered an attempt to cover up the direct investments of Avdolyan’s company in Port and assessed additional taxes.

In addition, BBR Bank and offshore companies associated with Avdolyan were mentioned in the case of the withdrawal of 100 million rubles to the Latvian bank JSC Citadele Banka.

Also, The Moscow Post previously reported that BBR Bank lent to the company of saboteur Lenur Islyamov, convicted of participating in the energy blockade of Crimea, and a company associated with Avdolyan then bought up these debts. 

It would seem that such a bouquet of “feats”, but the oligarch not only did not attract the attention of the competent authorities, but also continues to expand his division, not disdaining offshores. What’s the secret? And the secret, most likely, lies in his high connections and the high-ranking lobbyist standing behind him.

The entire path of establishing Avdolyan’s business went hand in hand with him the state corporation Rostec and its permanent leader Sergei Chemezov.

Chemezov personally heads the board of trustees of Avdolyan’s “New Home” foundation, and his wife is on the board along with the oligarch’s wife. 

The MRSEN case is turning into a farce: Avdolyan’s offshore has become... a victim


Moreover, Rodion Sokrovishchuk, a native of Rostec, is a co-owner of the companies in Avdolyan’s division. 

The MRSEN case is turning into a farce: Avdolyan’s offshore has become... a victim


And, as it seems to us, while Chemezov sits in his chair, Avdolyan may well remain unsinkable, no matter what.