From injured to accused: fiery passions for Merlion

Ex-general director of "Merlion" Vyacheslav Simonenko could be slandered by the owners of the company in order to hide the theft?


Ex-general director of "Merlion" Vyacheslav Simonenko could be slandered by the owners of the company in order to hide the theft?

The Investigative Committee of Russia completed an investigation into the attempted raider seizure of the Merlion Group of Companies, widely known for the Citylink brand, and transferred the case to the Prosecutor General's Office. According to investigators, an organized group, which included the ex-director of the company Vyacheslav Simonenko, tried to seize the IT giant.

In the event of a conviction, he faces not only a real term, but also claims from former partners for 2.2 billion rubles. At the same time, until recently, the investigation was fundamentally the opposite opinion - Vyacheslav Simonenko was considered the victim, and his former business partners were in custody.

How the arrow of justice turned 180 degrees, the correspondent of The Moscow Post understood.

The arrow turned

The organizer of the criminal community is considered lawyer Kirill Kachur. He is accused of several serious and especially serious crimes at once, including theft and extortion.

As reported by the media, it was Kachur who turned to Simonenko for help, whom the co-owners of Merlion suspected of embezzling 800 million rubles to the company. After that, according to the TFR, Simonenko, Kachura and other members of the criminal community, including investigators of the TFR itself, were provoked by falsified evidence of criminal cases against the owners of Merlion. For this, a pseudo-smothering was organized on the Simonenko family - his mansion was thrown with Molotov cocktails at night.

But until recently, the story in the eyes of the investigation looked completely different. Merlion Simonenko headed in 1997 and worked there until 2013. During this time, the company became the leader in the IT market, taking 36th place in the Forbes list of "200 largest companies in Russia."

In 2013, Simonenko left the post of CEO and headed the new division of the Merlion Project group. Formally, the company took part in the Civil Code, but conducted separate activities. According to the businessman, in two years he increased the company's turnover by 60%. After such impressive results, the co-owners of Merlion allegedly decided to return the successful company to control and asked Simonenko to quit.

Vyacheslav Simonenko. Photo:

As the ex-general director noted, the GK accounts contained $5 million of his personal funds, which he wanted to return. In return, he was handing Merlion $2 million in Merlion Project stock. It would seem that an agreement was reached. The ex-CEO gave the shares, but in return received only 450 thousand dollars.

He was refused attempts to get the remaining amount, motivating the decision by the fact that Simonenko allegedly withdrew money from the company. Simonenko threatened to publish information about dubious methods of work of the company. Negotiations on the payment of the rest of the amount reached a dead end, and in September 2015 Simonenko's house was set on fire.

The case initiated at the request of Simonenko quickly "stalled" and the whole story went into the shadows. In 2019, a man appealed to the Prosecutor General's Office with a request to resume the case, but history repeated itself. Only a public appeal to the head of the TFR, Alexander Bastrykin, moved things off the ground, and even as.

One of the alleged arsonists was promptly detained. He confessed, which eventually led to the arrest of Merlion co-owner Oleg Karchev, his business partners, as well as the head of security of the company Boris Levin.

Even while in the pre-trial detention center, Karchev could influence the course of the investigation and the people associated with this process. In connection with one of these episodes, the Prosecutor General's Office was even checked. Moreover, the case had testimony about pressure from the deputy head of the Main Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation for the Moscow Region, Alexander Sarafanov, and he was subsequently dismissed.

The threats were also reported by Simonenko's colleague Yevgeny Savelyev, who was a witness in the case. Savelyev's story repeats Simonenko's case as much as possible.

He held the position of top manager in the company for more than 13 years, until in 2014 he went on a long vacation. A year later, Savelyev decided to finally quit and asked to return the $4 million invested in Merlion, but was refused. According to the former top manager, the owners of the company accused him of theft. Even while in jail, Karchev allegedly called him and demanded that he refuse to testify.

In January 2021, there were reports of Savelyev's disappearance, but six months later he allegedly attended confrontation with former employers. Judging by the collapsed case, Savelyev could refuse to testify. After that, he disappears from the public field.

After serving less than six months in a pre-trial detention center, all the defendants returned home, and in February 2022 the case was completely closed. It turned out that seven years after the incident, the investigation could not establish the fact of arson, and the defense of the Merlion owners even voiced the version that Simonenko was trying to seize their business. A new criminal case followed, now against Simonenko. Within its framework, the investigation got to the point that the OPS, led by Kirill Kachura, through Vyacheslav Savelyev allegedly organized the arson of the latter's house and tried to seize the Merlion Group of Companies.

Even at first glance, the new version of the TFR raises many questions. For example, if Kachura is really such an influential "solver," then why did the arson investigation not move from a dead point until an appeal was received in the name of Bastrykin? Or why did the co-owners of Merlion, from whom Simonenko allegedly took money, remember this only after their arrest? Well, and most importantly, how should Simonenko have seized the company, if even in better times he was only a minority shareholder?

Always dry

The answer to these questions can be found by examining the identities of Merlion's co-owners. The most notable of them is Oleg Karchev. The Moscow Post previously spoke in detail about his activities.

Oleg Karchev Photo:

Initially, Karchev specialized in the sale of computer parts. In 2004, his company and several others merged under the banner of Merlion. However, by his own admission, he was engaged in other areas.

And indeed, soon he burst into the banking sector, successfully marrying Elena Vlasova, a shareholder of Rost Bank and Baikalinvestbank. Subsequently, Karchev became the owner of Rost Bank and six more banks. Almost all this "empire" was bankrupt by 2014 and given for the reorganization of the infamous "Binbank" Mikail Shishkhanov, the son-in-law of billionaire Mikhail Gutseriev. In 2023, Shishkhanov was also declared bankrupt, and almost 1 trillion rubles of all these structures evaporated.

Merlion's security chief Boris Levin is also interesting. In 2008, he appeared in the case of the abduction of the Euroset forwarder and extortion of 20 million rubles from him. At that time, Levin was the head of the company's security. That time he was acquitted by a jury.

As you can see, a decent train of dubious events stretches behind Vyacheslav Simonenko's opponents. But the main thing is that it was not the first time they came out of the water dry. So in the case of Merlion, the term threatens the one who was eventually left without money, and not Oleg Karchev and Boris Levin.