To the treasury. The state seized Russia’s largest wine producer within a week. The enterprises of the largest wine producer became state property 04/15/2024, 14:27

In early April, the Ariant group of companies, by the decision of the Chelyabinsk arbitration court, lost control of its four LLCs, including Russia’s largest wine producer Kuban-Vino (Chateau Taman, Aristov, Vysoky Bereg brands). The allegations against Ariant relate to the Prosecutor General’s Office’s alleged seizure of state property of another enterprise – the Chelyabinsk Electrometallurgical Plant (CHEMK). Evaluation of the case passed In a record time for claims of this size – seven days.

Work sharing

Initially, the defendants in this case were Etalon Company JSC and its shareholders – the founder of the ChEMK group Yuri Antipov and his wife Lyudmila. But then the Prosecutor General’s Office opened a new case against the Antipovs and added as co-defendants Lyudmila and Alexander Aristovs, as well as Elena and Alexander Kretovs, who are stated in the prosecutor’s documents to be associated with Ariant.

Aristov and Antipov founded Ariant, were business partners for more than 30 years, but decided to split assets in 2020. Aristov received agricultural enterprises, and Antipov received the Chelyabinsk metallurgical complex. Later, Aristov refused to participate in the company, including the owner, in favor of his daughter Elena Kretova and her husband Alexander Kretov, the main owner of the agricultural enterprise.

What is known about the participants in the case?

Ariant Group of Companies LLC is an entity of the Kretov family. The group of companies includes Kuban-Vino LLC, Agrofirm Yuzhnaya, Agrofirm Ariant, TsPI – Ariant.

Etalon Company JSC is the former owner of the Chelyabinsk Electrometallurgical Plant (CHEMK), Katav-Ivanovo Foundry (KLZ), Serov Ferroalloy Plant (SZF) and Kuznetsk Ferroalloys JSC (KF). Before Etalon, it belonged to the Ural-Siberian Metallurgical Company (USMK), the entity of Yuri and Lyudmila Antipov and their sons Mikhail, Alexey and Sergey. After dividing the joint business with Aristov, they acquired metallurgical plants; the assets were combined into USMK, which was merged with Etalon in 2023. Yuri and Lyudmila Antipovy appeared A year ago from USMK shareholders.

How did the process proceed?

Case The Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation filed a complaint against Etalon, Lyudmila and Yuri Antipov on February 5, 2024. The demand is for the return of properties “illegally owned by someone else” (shares in Chemk and ferroalloy plants) and their transfer to the state. According to this The Prosecutor General’s Office said that all three organizations were privatized with violations in the 1990s and were “part of a cooperation group closely related to defense enterprises” in the production of weapons systems and elements. According to the 1992 privatization rules, the decision to transfer such factories to private ownership should have been made by the government, while privatization was approved by local governments, which exceeded their authority. Additionally, prosecutors stated that the Antipov children were co-owners of the factories but lived abroad.

Etalon’s private owners reportedIt was stated that the three enterprises mentioned do not belong to the defense industry, they supply ferroalloys to metallurgical enterprises and send steel to defense facilities. The announced privatization plan was implemented everywhere, and after 30 years “errors” were revealed only at ChEMK and two other facilities.

However, on February 26, the Arbitration Court of the Sverdlovsk Region satisfied the claim of the Prosecutor General’s Office. The meeting took place behind closed doors. Antipov and his wife filed an appeal on March 5, and the next day – a petition for the cancellation of interim measures (i.e. the arrest of these enterprises), should have from the court file.

Already on March 14, the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office filed A new claim against the Antipovs, their sons Mikhail and Etalon in the Arbitration Court of the Chelyabinsk Region for 25.8 billion rubles. Prosecutors argued that the money was obtained as a result of “illegal enrichment” when an agreement was signed between Yuri Antipov and USMK in 2022, under which the defendants were “exempted from obligations to return public funds.”

We are talking about an agreement between Antipov and USMK on debt forgiveness in the amount of 25.8 billion rubles (its structure included 19.9 billion rubles of loans, loan interest, etc.). The amount that the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office must collect, grew up Damages of up to 105 billion rubles were sought on March 28, and the case involved Ariant and other defendants, including its current and former owners, and a request for state seizure of the group’s assets.

confiscation decision

In the Ariant case, the opinion of the Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office was that the other defendants named in the case had illegally incorporated three metallurgical plants. According to prosecutors, they therefore illegally enriched themselves and then used the funds withdrawn from the businesses “to purchase other assets”, including Kuban-Vino, Agrofirm Yuzhnaya, Agrofirm Ariant, TsPI – Ariant and Katav-Ivanovsky Foundry. (This is Etalon’s only asset, not Ariant’s).

Managing shareholder Alexander Kretov said RBC on Ariant’s attitude towards the case. He said that the Civil Code “remained calm, cooperated with law enforcement agencies, collected all documents to resolve the situation” and also “relies on the authority and support of the state and the Prosecutor General’s Office, which will resolve this issue.” Subject.

April 5 Arbitration Court of the Chelyabinsk Region pleased The lawsuit filed by the Attorney General’s Office to seize all five LLCs in favor of the state. As in the previous case, the solution accepted in a closed hearing session.

Five days later, on April 10, the data in the Unified State Register of Legal Entities was updated: as can be seen from the SPARK data, all companies were owned by the Federal Property Management Agency as a representative of the Russian Federation. On April 11, it was learned that Ariant appealed to the Supreme Court, complaining about the violations while the court was considering this claim. Among the comments in the complaint, there is mention of a record-breaking short review period of the case for the Chelyabinsk arbitration court – seven days (the defendants had three days to familiarize themselves with and review 25 volumes of the case); the preference court’s demonstration towards the Attorney General’s Office (this is expressed in the way that their petitions are met and the defendants’ petitions are rejected), which may indicate possible pressure on the judges, etc. According to the court file, April 12, Ariant Group of Companies filed attractive.

What Vladimir Putin said about the risks of privatization

Privatization issues were raised to the presidential level. Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the Eastern Economic Forum that there will be no privatization in Russia.

“Due to the active work of the prosecutor’s office in certain areas, companies and law enforcement have the right to evaluate what is happening in the economy in certain situations. However, this has no connection with any decision regarding privatization. <...> No one will have nightmares, but everyone must comply with the laws of the Russian Federation. <...> “No one will oppress anyone just because they do a job,” he said. aforementioned Minister.

Putin stated that the Chief of the Prosecutor General’s Office, Igor Krasnov, was aware of his position. Krasnov, who was present at the event, nodded in response.

What do lawyers say?

Civilian lawyer Alla Georgieva said in an interview with socialbites.ca that the speed of decision-making in a case of this size indicates the presence of procedural violations when considering the claim.

“The property dispute worth 105 billion rubles with 25 volumes of litigation was indeed resolved in the shortest possible time. The lawyer believes that the case is most likely being formally considered. — Such disputes themselves are not uncommon. Now, on the contrary, more and more law enforcement agencies are detecting violations in the actions of legal entities, including the privatization of state real estate. Especially when the alienation of property occurs without state permission. However, it is rare for a case regarding the assets of the Ariant group of companies to be evaluated in such a short time, in the presence of a lot of evidence and people involved in the case. “Even if the prosecutor proves it right, I think the decision can be annulled due to procedural violations.”

Igor Semenovsky, Associate Professor at the Department of International and Public Law at the Financial University affiliated with the Government of the Russian Federation, pointed out that the process in the Arianta case and the CHEMK case took place “very quickly”. higher than similar cases.” According to the lawyer, the investigation probably does not want to “disclose the working mechanisms and the basis of the arguments so that they become known to the public.”

“There may be many reasons for this; From preventing undesirable actions of current owners in similar situations, eliminating the risks of creating a negative image of the country’s investment climate, to the simple reluctance to bother the public with the details of the cases. Regarding the privatization of the 1990s and the corresponding actions of the authorities of that time “, Igor Semenovsky told socialbites.ca.

What are you thinking?

In April, three wineries and an agricultural enterprise belonging to the Ariant group were seized. The expropriation process of 105 billion rubles within the framework of the Chelyabinsk Electrometallurgical Plant (CHEMK) case lasted only about a week. Lawyers say a claim of this scale is being processed at an unusually fast pace. Why were there allegations against winemakers in socialbites.ca’s material?



Source: Gazeta

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