Tariko's debts count Friedman
Friedman took up Tariko - a review of the case in the Citibank lawsuit threatens the vodka king with the loss of half of the Russian Standard, or even a criminal case.
According to the correspondent of The Moscow Post, the owner of Roust Group of Companies and Russian Standard Bank Rustama Tariko suffered a serious defeat in court. The investment company that bought his debts from foreign creditors A1 obtained a review of the case on the collection of funds in the Arbitration Court. This could threaten Tariko with the deprivation of half of the shares of his own bank, and maybe criminal prosecution.
We are talking about the lawsuit of the London Citibank ("Citibank") to recover 49% of the "Russian Standard," which was sent for new consideration the day before. Recall that earlier the court refused to recover 49% of the "Russian Standard" in the lawsuit of Tariko's creditors.
Shares of the bank were pledged on the bond debt of Tariko's structure Russian Standard Ltd (RSL), registered in the British Virgin Islands. RSL placed bonds worth $451 million in 2015, and debt payments were tied to the profit indicators of Russian Standard Bank.
In 2017, the bank began to earn, but coupon payments did not begin, RSL defaulted. And, apparently, for the sake of clarity to creditors that they will not receive their money back for sure, another default was made in 2018.
Since that year, the remaining owners of the bonds have been demanding repayment of the debt and collection of collateral. But the appeal to the court from Citibank came only in 2020. It is Citibank that manages the collateral in the interests of bond holders and ensures that the value of shares does not decrease.
Recover the whole world
In a seemingly obvious situation, the courts sided with Tariko. It is not clear whether telephone law could play a role in this, because Tariko is considered a very influential person.
Separately, other persons launched a struggle for the return of their funds from Tariko. In particular, in February, also large creditors of the businessman, the Pala fund of the former co-owner of Mechel Vladimir Yorich and Aleia Trading, demanded that the businessman through the court recover the loss due to transactions between the bank and Tariko's vodka companies.
The amount of the lawsuit is 3.3 billion rubles. In the first instance, Tariko managed to win, but the "war" has not yet been won. At that time (2020), Tariko's total debts were estimated at over $757 million.
In the confrontation, Tariko even noted the former general director and chief editor of the Kommersant publishing house Andrei Vasiliev, who represents a group of investors left out of the inheritance after interacting with the "vodka king" (as Tariko was nicknamed in Russia).
Vasiliev sent a letter to the chairman of the public council under the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation Anatoly Kucheren, and asked for legal assistance on restructuring and recovery of funds. About this wrote Vedomosti. He also noted that investors addressed the chairman of the Central Bank, Elvira Nabiullina, but did not find any understanding and support.
What this is connected with is not clear, but rumors that Nabiullina allegedly favors the "Russian Standard" have been going for a long time. And this despite all the scandals. One of them happened in 2019, when the legal adviser of Russian Standard Bank tried to offer the bailiff a bribe in the amount of 2.6 million rubles. About this wrote Forbes. The bank was fined 10 times more - 26 million rubles. Is it possible to believe that an ordinary lawyer-consultant on his own initiative, without coordination with management, could take such a step?
Returning to the debts of Tariko's structures, the bad news for him is that the prosecutor's office may be interested in the situation. As Forbes writes in another of its materials, the department was going to check the transactions on which creditors had questions for Tariko.
In the course of all the proceedings, the question inevitably arises - where, in the end, did the money that the entrepreneur does not want to give? Especially if you recall the second default made in 2018. In the same year, recall, the net profit of Russian Standard Bank under IFRS amounted to 8.5 billion rubles, exceeding the same figure for the previous year by 3.5 times.
But the creditors still did not receive anything, and rumors began to go that Tariko could invest this money in his own vodka business, which was experiencing considerable problems at that time. About this, in particular, wrote Lenta.ru.
The holding continued to be the second producer of vodka in the world and the first in Russia, but allegedly did not bring profit. The company had a high debt burden. With EBITDA of 6.5 billion rubles, liabilities reached 94.7 billion rubles. The loss in the first quarter of 2019 amounted to 737 million rubles (source - IFRS Bank).
Did Tariko pour the money of creditors into his own vodka business? In the photo - the production line at the Roust plant in Russia
That is, it can be assumed that by taking money, Tariko could simply solve his problems in the vodka business, and send creditors to the courts in the hope of stopping the situation in the future with the least losses for himself.
A1 takes into its own hands
But in October 2021, something happened that Trico himself probably did not expect. The debts of creditors who lost hope of returning their money were bought by the investment group of A1 Mikhail Friedman. This company has the notoriety of real professionals in "collecting" debts and corporate conflicts. In the case of Tariko bonds, the soil is more than fertile.
As the investment arm of Friedman's Alfa Group, A1 received more than 30% of the default bonds of Russian Standard Ltd. According to our sources, even before the start of the transaction, A1 allegedly began to probe the ground for a review of the case in the lawsuit of the British Citibank.
According to experts, the very fact that the case is sent for review can indicate serious risks for Tariko - which means that there are grounds, after all,.
The previous court decisions do raise questions. Recall that in the court of first instance, the defendants stated that Citibank could not file such a lawsuit, since it was not a creditor for secured property. About this wrote RBC.
For the same reason, the pledge did not arise in principle, despite the conclusion of the contract, so the lawsuit, in their opinion, could not be satisfied. In addition, more than a year has passed since the filing of the claim for reimbursement of the debt (Citibank filed it in 2018), that is, the preventive period for collecting the pledge has expired, the defendants' lawyers said.
Mikhail Friedman will never miss his own. Now he's taking on Rustam Tariko?
The appeal agreed with this position, recalling that "a pledge under Russian law arises at a time when the creditor's side under the pledge agreement becomes a creditor under the main obligation." The trust agreement, under which Citibank became the manager of the pledged shares of the Russian Standard, was concluded in English law.
And then the question is also - did Rustam Tariko not expect, placing bonds, that if problems arise, investors will have to seek the truth in Russian courts?
Standard capital flight
Meanwhile, something very strange is happening in the Russian Standard bank itself. In June 2021, he went on to reduce equity by 5.9 billion rubles, or 16.4%. The money will be used to create reserves for investments in associated or subsidiary enterprises, including those associated with Rustam Tariko himself. That is, again - supporting the businessman's assets in a difficult hour with multimillion-dollar debts.
At the same time, from the beginning of 2021 until this June decision, the bank's assets decreased by 5.7%, or immediately by 18 billion rubles. Net profit decreased by almost 4 billion rubles. Capital in form 123 fell by 15.75%, or 5.6 billion rubles. Depositors ran from the bank. Deposits of individuals decreased by 4.9%, or more than 7 billion rubles, investments in securities - by 3.3%, or by 2.8 billion rubles.
There is information as of July to the end of October 2021. And there are also oddities. During this period, the assets of the structure decreased by 7.5%, or 24 billion rubles. Equity in form (123) fell by 23%, or more than 9.5 billion rubles. Physical depositors literally flee the bank - deposits decreased by 22 billion rubles, or 14%. In the red zone are two of the three most important credit ratios of the structure - H1 and H3.
That is, it can be assumed that money is simply withdrawn from the bank. It is quite possible that in some of the offshore businessmen, or in the most famous - the same Roust. Now, when the A1 took up the matter, it is necessary to especially closely monitor what is happening to the finances of the organization. And for Tariko himself, because for a long time he should have a quiet harbor for a hopeless life in the West.