Baring Vostok founder’s arrest can ruin authorities’ efforts to promote entrepreneurship

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MOSCOW, February 19. /TASS/. The arrest of Michael Calvey, founder of the Baring Vostok investment fund, can bring to naught all the efforts of the Russian authorities to promote entrepreneurship, Vice President of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Elena Dybova told TASS.

“My position is the position of business. Such high-profile arrests can even bring to naught the efforts of the authorities to promote entrepreneurship as part of the national SME project (Small and Medium-Sized Business and Support for Individual Entrepreneurial Initiatives – TASS),” she said.

In her opinion, it would be possible to choose other measures of restraint, for example, house arrest or seizure of funds.

Dybova also noted that the fact that head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund Kirill Dmitriev and business ombudsman Boris Titov is ready to vouch for Calvey should not to be ignored.

Baring Vostok’s case

Russia’s Investigative Committee launched a criminal case into the embezzlement of 2.5 bln rubles ($37.5 mln) from the Vostochny Bank on February 13. Michael Calvey is the key defendant in the case. On February 15, the law enforcement agencies arrested Calvey and five others: Vagan Abgaryan, partner at Baring Vostok, Philippe Delpale, an investment partner for the financial industry sector at Baring Vostok, Ivan Zyuzin, Investment Director at Baring Vostok and also General Director of the First Collection Bureau Maxim Vladimirov and Advisor to the Management Board of Norvik Bank, Alexey Kordichev. They are all facing charges under part 4 article 159 of Russia’s Criminal Code (Swindling committed on a large scale by an organized group).

According to the investigation, Calvey and his accomplices put together a scheme, where the “First Collection Bureau”, under their control, waived its right to a 59.9% stake in a Luxembourg-based company called the International Financial Technology Group (IFTG), to the Vostochny bank to pay it back for a 2.5 bln-ruble debt. Before the deal, IFTG’s shares were valued at 3 bln rubles. However, the investigation is examining another estimate of 600,000 rubles (according to a Cyprus-based company’s valuation). That said, the Central Bank claimed that the price of these shares was close to zero, the investigator noted.

On February 7, Serzod Yusupov, a minority shareholder in Vostochny Bank filed a complaint with Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB). In addition, Artyom Avetisyan, another Vostochny shareholder, along with the deputy chairman of the bank’s board Konstantin Rogov testified against Michael Calvey.

Calvey rejected all charges and accused Yusupov and Avetisyan of a conjuring up bogus charges caused by a “corporate conflict” in the bank.

Head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund Kirill Dmitriev said he was ready to vouch for Calvey. Business Ombudsman Boris Titov called Calvey’s detention illegal, noting that the situation was a “purely corporate dispute.”

About Baring Vostok

Baring Vostok is one of the largest private equity firms focusing on Russia and the CIS with $3.7 bln in capital. Since 1994, the fund has poured more than $2.4 bln of investments into 70 projects in the areas of financial services, oil and gas, telecommunications and media, and into the consumer sector. Baring Vostok’s projects include CTC Media, Yandex, Avito, Ozon, ER-Telecom, 1C, and Novomet.

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