Viktor Rashnikov's black carbon approach | Latest news The Moscow Post
29 September 2020

Viktor Rashnikov's "black carbon" approach

The collapse of the rock at the Chertinskaya-Koksovaya mine, which led to human victims, could have occurred with the indirect connivance of oligarch Viktor Rashnikov.

As the correspondent of The Moscow Post reports, rescuers and a special Commission that determines the causes of the accident continue to work on the site. Meanwhile, law enforcement officers have already expressed their opinion that the cause of the incident is a violation of safety regulations.

Chertinskaya-Koksovaya is part of the MMK-Coal production Association, a subsidiary of PJSC Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works of the Kuzbass oligarch Viktor Rashnikov. No one is surprised by what happened in the mine. A possible tragedy was predicted there in advance. Numerous violations were repeatedly detected at the mine. In the case of Chertinskaya-Koksovaya, they were so obvious that this time it will probably not be possible to put the brakes on the case.

Rashnikov was warned

Chertinskaya-Koksovaya is one of the oldest and deepest mines in the Chelyabinsk region. In recent years, there have been several large-scale inspections done by Rostechnadzor and Rosprirodnadzor. Almost every one of them revealed serious problems, which, as can be concluded from the accident, no one was engaged in.

Last year, we reached what is called the edge - the work of the mine and a number of other objects of MMK-Coal LLC was suspended due to a threat to the safety of people. During a routine inspection, the Siberian Department of Rostekhnadzor found more than 300 violations there. Information about this is available on the agency's website.

So the regime of dust and gas absorption was violated, and the transport was operated incorrectly. What concerns the fire safety, it was a real "disaster". The management of the mine, as well as the entire organization, was well aware of all these problems.

As Interfax wrote, at the end of last November, explosive deposits of coal dust were found in the ventilation shaft at Chertinskaya-Koksovaya. Despite this, work in the mine continued in normal mode. Some might consider this not just sloppiness, but criminal negligence.

Last year, functionaries of "MMK-Coal" were fined for a series of similar breaches. 36 engineering and technical employees of a number of production facilities of the company had their pockets lost weight at once. And, again, almost 400 (!) violations in the field of industrial safety.

It seems that all these problems not only did not make Viktor Rashnikov responsible for security issues, but only provoked his business appetites. As reported by Tayga.info, in May 2020, specialists of Rosprirodnadzor caught MMK-Coal in illegal mining of almost 300 tons of coal. The damage to the subsoil amounted to 1.3 billion rubles.

The conclusions made by the experts have already been confirmed by the courts of first and second instance. It is logical to assume that in the pursuit of profit, Rashnikov can not disdain any methods.

The story of the purchase of the Chertinskaya-Koksovaya mine is an example of this.

Many market players consider this acquisition to be an ordinary aggressive takeover, where there could be serious pressure on the former owners of the cut. At the same time, Rashnikov initially assured that he would soon sell the mine, or, on the contrary, upgrade it. None of this was done. What can be said if even the simplest security requirements are not met there?

The mine became the property of MMK-Coal in 2015 after it was bought out from MMK's subsidiary, the Belon coal company. Rashnikov acquired it long before the whole story, but then there was a question of what to do with unprofitable and outdated mines, among which Chertinskaya-Koksovaya was. Despite the fact that the mine was unprofitable, the FAS for some reason did not want to agree on a deal for a long time. However, Rashnikov's promises about selling or upgrading the asset lulled the attention of Antimonopoly authorities.

Rashnikov's MMK acquired Belon in 2007. And acquired not without problems and questions. According to the authors of the Alenka Kapital website, the purchase was allegedly based on a dubious M&A takeover scheme that was used in the Sistema-Bashneft deal.

As a result, 10.75% of stocks of Belon were under the control of MMK. But for some reason, this share was not officially registered. In addition, MMK acquired half of this share from an offshore company where more than 80% of Belon's stocks were concentrated. In other words, the transaction was not transparent even at first glance.

At the same time, Belon later split its stocks 1 to 100, and even planned an IPO. But in 2009, Rashnikov's MMK buys out the remaining part of Belon, whose speed was significantly undermined by the 2009 crisis, and makes the company the base of its coal division. Only part of the assets of the Kostromskaya mine, which Rashnikov got their hands on in 2015, was not bought.

It looks like an ordinary takeover. However, it did not pass without problems for Rashnikov. The minority shareholders of Belon (they account for about 5% of the stocks at the moment) father and son Alexanders Lunevs were outraged. This was reported by Kommersant.

They filed a lawsuit against Rashnikov's MMK, where they said that he should have fully bought out their company's coal assets, and not reorganize. They estimated their losses at 10.7 billion rubles. This happened despite repeated offers from them to buy out their remaining shares. The minority shareholders bought the Belon stake in 2015, and believe that the company's reorganization was beneficial only to MMK. Legal proceedings are still ongoing.

This is not the first time Rashnikov has behaved so aggressively in the market. A confrontation with his former partner, entrepreneur Alexander Chigirinsky comes to mind. In 2016, Chigirinsky planned to get to the offshores of the Magnitogorsk king, as he called Rashnikov, through the arrest of his personal property for $127 million.

Chigirinsky's showdown with Rashnikov and his partner Nader began in 2010. At that time the entrepreneur claimed that his partners bought half of the stocks of INTECO for only 37 million dollars. The Moscow Post wrote about that case earlier.

Then the court of the city of Limassol in Cyprus even imposed interim measures on a number of Rashnikov's assets. They included three of his French villas: Villa les Terentes, Villa les Figuiers and Villa Nellcote. However, it was not possible to shake out the money allegedly owed to Chigirinsky from Rashnikov.

Meanwhile, the trail of scandals and proceedings has been stretching towards Rashnikov since the 90s. According to the authors of the website Compromat.ru, allegedly Rashnikov could commit tax violations in 1997 when MMK settled with 39 intermediary firms, which could lead to losses of the plant by $50 million.

Then Rashnikov and his people could arrange the delivery of coal at an inflated cost using intermediary firms from Kuzbass, and then actively launder money. LLC Mistral was mentioned among the laundering companies.

In addition, Rashnikov, along with the son of the mayor of Magnitogorsk, Viktor Anikushin, is credited with possible fraud with the funds of Credit Ural Bank, through which the money of the Magnitogorsk Department store chain JSC Klass was transferred. Allegedly, instead of a salary, the workers of the plant were given cards for purchasing goods in these department stores. And the money coming off unofficially, allegedly, could be through Credit Ural Bank .

This is not the first time Rashnikov has been mentioned as a close friend of the regional authorities. At one time, he could not agree with the Governor Yurevich, who was later replaced by Boris Dubrovsky. Dubrovsky is a native of Rashnikov's MMK, and the latter, they say, made a lot of effort to eventually lead the region. Everyone remembers how the infamous governorship of Dubrovsky ended - he was dismissed, and later, according to rumors, he and his son fled the country to the Arab Emirates.

After that, it is strange to be surprised that the inspections at Rashnikov's enterprises do not have the proper effect. If Rashnikov is covered up at the very top of the regional government, he doesn't need to worry about much at all. And with the arrival of Texler, the situation has not changed much.

Rashnikov in "chocolate"?

While people die and become disabled in his mines, Viktor Rashnikov himself continues to grow rich. Today, it is still included in the Russian list of Forbes with a fortune of $7.3 billion. God only knows how much of this money has ruined the lives of employees of his enterprises, how much damage has been done to the environment.

Rashnikov owns 84% of Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works. This is his main asset. MMK itself, as it should be for domestic oligarchs, is securely tied to an offshore company - Mintha Holding Limited. Apparently, Viktor Rashnikov can't afford to pay taxes in Russia. Do the voters who twice elected him to the state Duma know about this? However, he twice refused the mandate in the state Duma, preferring to remain in the Legislative Assembly of the Chelyabinsk region. Closer to his assets.

In addition to MMK, Rashnikov is called a real collector of assets and real estate. According to the authors of the Russkaya Pressa website, over the years, "patriot" Rashnikov allegedly managed to acquire a lot of foreign property.

In particular, two villas on the Cote d'Azur with a total cost of almost 130 million euros and an apartment in the centre of Paris near the residence of President Macron. According to rumours, Rashnikov prefers to fly exclusively on the "gold" Gulfstream G650ER business jet for $75 million. And to float - on a huge yacht Ocean Victory for $400 million.

Isn't it time for both regional authorities and Federal agencies to change their approach to working with this fan of French villas?

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