Bermuda polygon Melnichenko: what the oligarch wants to prove to the public | Latest news The Moscow Post
02 October 2023

Bermuda polygon Melnichenko: what the oligarch wants to prove to the public

Instead of transferring assets to Russia, oligarch Andrei Melnichenko and his trust have the opportunity to conduct business through Bermuda, Cyprus and Switzerland. And this "Bermuda polygon" controls services for 6 million consumers of heat and energy services in Russia.

In early September 2023, the name of the oligarch Andrei Melnichenko "surfaced" in a very unexpected place. He was found on the board of trustees of the Gorbachev Foundation, which, among other things, is positioned in the media as a foundation for affirming the values ​ ​ of democracy. Is it Melnichenko who joined the fighters for democratic values ​ ​ against the background of the claim for the seizure of Sibeko assets? What does "democracy" look like in the prism of business, at least until March 2023, associated with Melnichenko, the correspondent of The Moscow Post understood.

Recall that on September 7, Krasnoyarsk will begin to listen to the lawsuit of the Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation against Andrei Melnichenko on the recovery of shares of Siberian Energy Company JSC (Sibeko) registered with Kuzbassenergo in favor of the state. The supervisory authority believes that the assets were acquired illegally from the companies of Mikhail Abyzov, the ex-minister of the Open Government, and now a defendant in a criminal case with a scam worth 4 billion rubles.


It is also interesting that in March 2022, immediately after Melnichenko was included in the sanctions list, EuroChem and SUEK announced that the billionaire had withdrawn from capital and governing bodies. According to Interfax, Melnichenko previously controlled 90% of the group's parent company, EuroChem Group AG (Switzerland), through Cyprus' AIM Capital SE. According to approximately the same scheme, there was control according to SUEK.

Such "exits" seem to have not satisfied the prosecutor's office, since in the lawsuit filed in August 2023, Melnichenko is still mentioned as the beneficiary of Sibeko, which is controlled precisely through SUEK. And perhaps the role was played by the "crying of Yaroslavna," which the oligarch demonstrated in an interview with Forbes in April 2023, saying that he wanted to regain Eurochem and SUEK, and leaving the beneficiaries of the Firstline Trust trust was a mistake. It should be noted here that although Melnichenko himself left the beneficiaries, the share passed automatically to his wife Alexandra, who, by the way, is a citizen of Serbia and Croatia, and never had a Russian passport.

According to open data, today the mentioned Firstline Trust, registered in the mother of offshore - in Bermuda - is listed as an asset of Alexandra Melnichenko.


Judging by the report of SUEK for 2020-2021, SUEK is one of the leading electricity producers in Siberia and heat producer No. 1 with 27 power plants serving over 6 million consumers in Russia. That is, depending on the will of the beneficiary (or his wife with European citizenship) working through Cypriot and Bermuda legal entities, there are 6 million Russians and legal entities of the Russian Federation receiving energy and heat supply services. You just think about these numbers!


Earlier, The Moscow Post told in detail how much of the division fell under the wing of Siberian Generating Company LLC, which in turn manages Sibeko.


In the story of sanctions, Melnichenko, in our opinion, showed his true face. Instead of, as a number of Russian oligarchs did, transferring their assets from foreign jurisdiction to Russian (and such a move would be quite real, 63% of SUEK's sales are in Asia), he ran to Eurosud to prove that the sanctions were imposed illegally. What Melnichenko wanted to prove is not clear. Maybe he got drunk for a luxury property in London, decorated for another Bermuda Valton Limited, or for the Harewood Estate in Berkshire? Again, he in an interview with the Swiss edition of Die Weltwoche said, does the family live in Switzerland since 2009?

From the materials of the Eurosud, by the way, it is known that Melnichenko lives in St. Moritz (Switzerland). In his arguments, why he needs to lift the sanctions that earn on the Russian bowels of Melnichenko, he stated the reasons why the Council included the applicant in the sanctions list are significantly erroneous. Did you hint that from the Russian you had only a passport and a hand launched into the Russian bowels?


And this Mr. controlled and is going to continue to control a whole block of strategic enterprises in Russia! With Melnichenko, everything is actually clear - billions are at stake. For reference: SUEK's revenue for 2021 (excluding intra-group sales) was 717.6 billion rubles. But a completely reasonable question arises, and is it not time for the competent authorities, by analogy with the lawsuit against Sibeko, to ask themselves about SUEK's assets and schemes for obtaining them.


Barter in the scheme: Who wins?

Let's just remember, for example, that the most powerful thermal power plant in the Far East - Primorskaya GRES, as well as the Luchegorsky coal mine, SUEK received not for a tidy sum, but for barter. In exchange, RusHydro, which was then headed by the current head of the Ministry of Energy of the Russian Federation Nikolai Shulginov, received a 41.84% stake owned by Donalink Limited in the Far Eastern Energy Company (DEK), which in turn owns the Far Eastern Generating Company (DGK) and the Far Eastern Distribution Grid Company. To many, such an exchange seemed unequal. Indeed, at that time, DGK's debt portfolio amounted to 65.8 billion rubles, where 40.5 billion rubles was an intra-group loan from RusHydro as part of a forward transaction with VTB Bank.

In July 2023, the Versiya newspaper also reported that now SUEK has swung at the largest in Europe and one of the most powerful in Russia - Ryazan State District Power Plant, which is part of PJSC OGK-2, a subsidiary of Gazprom. SUEK has previously acquired the Krasnoyarsk OGK-2 from GRES-2. In general, in 2019-2021, large assets were acquired from state-owned companies such as Gazprom, Rosatom and RusHydro. And here the experts also had questions about the price of transactions and the creation of a virtual monopoly on generation and coal for individual territories.

Now let's remember how the tariff is formed, for example, for a heat service. There is such a line in the NPA - "the necessary gross revenue of a regulated organization should reimburse it for economically reasonable costs and provide economically reasonable profit for each regulated type of activity." How do you like the twist? So much for building yachts, buying properties in London.

Now they started talking about the fact that all the same RusHydro is going to part with power grid assets in the Far East. Earlier, according to the Kommersant newspaper, Rosseti was interested in them, but the deal did not happen. Where is the guarantee that there will not be a familiar scheme with SUEK?

In the same piggy bank, it is not superfluous to remember that for a long time there were rumors about the billionaire's interest directly in the shares of RusHydro itself. The Moscow Post previously spoke in detail about this.

Do not forget about the state contracts that are favored by the companies of the SUEK division. There we are talking about billions of budget rubles.

Fuel and Energy Complex Friendship

Could the oligarch, according to him, living abroad for more than ten years, collect such a portfolio of energy assets on his own? In our opinion, this is hardly possible without a significant lobby. It is not for nothing that they say that the businessman maintains warm relations with the ex-head of the Ministry of Energy of Russia, the current Deputy Prime Minister for the Fuel and Energy Complex Alexander Novak. It was during its taxiing that many of Melnichenko's major transactions were held by the country's energy complex. Again, while working on trips to the regions, Novak periodically shone at SUEK enterprises and in a company with his top managers.

But, perhaps, the most important confirmation about lobbying Melnichenko's interests by specific persons was received by the public in May 2023, when the Council Without a Market telegram channel published an extract from a meeting of the government subcommittee. It followed from it that the Deputy Minister of Energy of Russia Pavel Sorokin made a proposal to approve payment from Russian accounts to the accounts of a foreign bank to repay a mortgage loan previously taken by Andrei Melnichenko's firms for the purchase of real estate in France.

It was about a contribution of 6 billion rubles. That is, now the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank and for some reason the Ministry of Energy must organize the process so that Melnichenko, who has not lived in Russia for decades, does not lose his estate worth 200 million euros? And what theses a high-ranking official cites so that the commission for monitoring the implementation of foreign investment in Russia approves these transactions, these are just tears dripping. Poor, poor oligarch!


Although on the other hand, the lawsuit against Melnichenko about the actual seizure of the lion's share of Sibeko's assets demonstrates some coolness of the authorities to this person involved. Is it possible that the lawsuit itself will be the first swallow not only for the oligarch, but also for these dignitaries? It is not for nothing that the Prosecutor General's Office in 2022-2023 put the return of illegally privatized state assets right on stream, and there, you see, it will reach criminal cases. But some of the potential participants in this opera have already safely waved "at Bermuda." And from there, as you know, there is no extradition.

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