Panov or disappeared: what to do to the head of the Ministry of Transport Vitaly Savelyev, after the absentee arrest of his ex-deputy

The competent authorities should have "uncomfortable questions" to the head of the Ministry of Transport Vitaly Savelyev.


The competent authorities should have "uncomfortable questions" to the head of the Ministry of Transport Vitaly Savelyev.

Recall that the investigation, the defendant of which was the former top manager of Aeroflot, Andrei Panov is associated with a contract for the development of the carrier's marketing strategy, which was developed three years ago under a contract with Aeroflot by the American company Bain & Company.

And already on Thursday, the Khoroshevsky court of Moscow arrested in absentia the former deputy Savelyev, in the case of fraud by Aeroflot Panov, he was also put on the international wanted list.

Who became the "scapegoat," and who the correspondent of The Moscow Post understood the real interest in possible frauds.

Panov himself said in media comments that "the accusations appeared three years after the approval of the marketing strategy by the board of directors, which included three transport ministers and two Aeroflot CEOs of different years." According to him, during the approval of this strategy, the airline's board of directors included Maxim Sokolov (Minister of Transport from May 2012 to May 2018), Eugene Dietrich (headed by the Ministry of Transport from May 2018 to November 2020), Vitaly Savelyev (Aeroflot CEO from April 2009 to November 2020, from November 10, 2020 - Minister of Transport) and Mikhail Poluboyarinov (head of the airline from November 2020 to March 2022).

Of this list, of course, the greatest interest is the ex-head of Aeroflot and the current Minister of Transport Vitaly Savelyev, who could not help but know about the contract at a price of almost 200 million rubles.

So will there be questions for Savelyev?

Scratch my back and I will scratch yours?

It is noteworthy that in a number of publications the author of the marketing strategy is for some reason called not the Americans, but Andrei Panov himself. At the same time, the authors of the publications do not specify that this is an inventory "for the sake of a red word" or a direct hint that Panov conceived and carried out an operation to "cut" budget funds?

Recall that Panov left the country in early March shortly after the start of a special operation in Donbass. Once in the West, he did not slow down to make anti-Russian criticism. Later, Panov made it very clear that the criminal case initiated against him in Russia allegedly became the revenge of the authorities for his "bold civil act."

But for some reason it is more believed that in fact the sequence of events was different: at first Panov felt the threat of initiating a criminal case against him, and then fled abroad, hiding behind slogans pleasing to Russia's opponents. Thus, his "bold civic position" is still more an attempt at self-defense and a kind of advance fee for the asylum provided to him away from Russian law enforcement officers.

Today, most of the media published details of the deal with Bain & Company, which in 2019 won a tender to update the marketing strategy for Aeroflot, Russia, Aurora and Pobeda airlines, requesting 194 million for services at a starting price of 209.1 million rubles.

The escape of Andrei Panov is obviously connected with the criminal case of fraud initiated against him in Russia. Photo: RIA Novosti

The specialists who are on the topic have already spoken out about this transaction, describing the scheme for the distribution of funds for direct expenses related to the implementation of the contract, as well as for taxes, profits and, of course, classic "kickbacks" transferred to the customer's representative, which could be Panov.

The vast majority agree that the order for 196 million rubles for updating the strategy in the presence of its own department of marketing, strategy and product quality (by the way, such structures are in each airline) raises many questions.

By the way, Panov actually could well be the author (or one of the authors) of Aeroflot's marketing strategy, estimated at almost 200 million rubles. Moreover, the development of this document is, of course, a key part of the work of the strategy and marketing department of any corporation, and in many corporations, with a large specialized division, this is done by their own specialists.

But this obviously does not apply to such large corporations as Aeroflot. There may be two explanations for this: the first is with the specialists of the division who were hired "on calls" from those who cannot be refused, there are not enough of their own competencies to develop a strategy, and the second - not moderately enterprising top manager Panov decided to cash in on this event with his friends, convincing management that such an important thing should be entrusted to high-class professionals.

It is highly likely that in the case of Aeroflot, the two above factors worked at once.

… And not for the first time

By the way, this story recalled another "skeleton" in the Aeroflot closet - the so-called "lawyers' case" related to the withdrawal of money from the airline.

In March 2021, a criminal case was heard in the Gagarinsky District Court of Moscow on charges of Deputy General Director of Aeroflot, (who was then Vitaly Savelyev) Vladimir Alexandrov, as well as the head of the department for interaction with state authorities Tatyana Davydova and two lawyers - Alexander Slivko and Dina Kibets. This "quartet was suspected of large-scale fraud. Kommersant wrote about this.

According to investigators, Vladimir Alexandrov some time ago organized the conclusion between Aeroflot and lawyers of 4 agreements on the provision of legal assistance. At the same time, forged acts of allegedly performed services were prepared, and more than 250 million rubles were transferred to the bank accounts of lawyers.

At the same time, Aeroflot has its own legal department. It seems that such a mutually beneficial "outsourcing" for Aeroflot is generally commonplace.

Isn't this story very similar to the "epic" with Panov? Sobenno, considering that according to information from open sources, he himself, shortly before joining Aeroflot, was a partner of Bain & Company. Accordingly, if law enforcement officers studied other contracts in more detail, they could find that Panov could significantly "warm his hands" in other situations.

Officials get ready!

Soon after Panov's escape from Russia, it became known that Deputy Transport Minister Kirill Bogdanov resigned, who went to work in the ministry after his chief Vitaly Savelyev, when he moved from the chair of the head of Aeroflot to the ministerial office.

It was impossible not to connect this resignation, which no one commented on for the media, with the criminal case against the escaped Andrei Panov. Every day, with a greater share of confidence, observers suggest that the story of the "fatal contract" with Bain & Company can only be the tip of the iceberg, which holds many bureaucratic secrets.

Kirill Bogdanov's resignation may be related to searches at Aeroflot. Photo:

Although, by and large, the deal with Bain & Company is a trifle in comparison with the sensational story about aircraft registered offshore. An investigation on this topic was recently published by The Moscow Post.

For many years, registration of aircraft offshore was the norm for the Russian fleet - carriers explained their actions by the desire to maximize the cost of equipment and increase its service life. However, domestic experts consider it erroneous that in Russia it is impossible to properly control the shelf life, because from the CIS countries our country has the greatest potential for this kind of work.

At the same time, it is no secret that in fact the offshore is a "muddy cell" in itself, no one knows what financial fraud is committed inside it. And the plane is an extremely expensive facility, which requires millions to maintain, which are often taken from the pocket of the state. For example, in 2020 alone, Aeroflot and two subsidiaries, Russia and Aurora, were allocated 7.89 billion rubles. Whether they were spent as intended or leaked abroad, no one will say. At the same time, Aeroflot ended 2020 with a loss of 97 billion rubles.

For several years, Rosaviatsia fought for the return of aircraft to Russian jurisdiction. According to Izvestia, due to the registration of aircraft abroad, Russia in only two years received less than 225 billion rubles of customs duties in 2015 prices. At the current rate, the numbers will be several times higher.

In 2019, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov proposed breaking the intergovernmental agreement between Russia and Bermuda, which allows delegating authority to maintain airworthiness at the place of registration. As of 2019, 95% of aircraft engaged in air transportation in Russia were registered there. But airlines said at the time that such a decision was dangerous for passengers. Or maybe it is more fraught with "losing weight" of the wallets of the heads of airlines and the officials patronizing them?

After new Western sanctions broke out in February-March this year, it became clear that supporters of offshore service and officials sympathetic to them were afraid of the wrong thing.

Given the involvement of Vitaly Savelyev in the activities of both Aeroflot and the Ministry of Transport, it is unlikely that anyone will be surprised if not only Andrei Panov, but also Kirill Bogdanov, and Vitaly Savelyev become the next defendants in the criminal case of fraud with Aeroflot's marketing strategy. And there you look, and new criminal cases and new defendants will be pulled up.

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