Calvey case not political, says Russia’s business ombudsman

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MOSCOW, February 26. /TASS/. The criminal case against founder and managing partner of Baring Vostok investment fund Michael Calvey, charged with embezzlement, is not political, Russian Business Ombudsman Boris Titov told reporters after visiting the businessman at a detention facility in Moscow.

“There’s no need to look for politics in the Calvey case. Certain individuals have filed a complaint [to the law enforcement organs]; the officials reacted, although they overreacted to an extent. This is a corporate conflict, a corporate deal. In our opinion, he [Calvey] is not guilty,” Titov stated.

“We have defined our legal position concerning the measure of restraint. In accordance with Article 108 of the Russian Criminal Code, imprisonment cannot be used as a measure of restraint against entrepreneurs,” he added.

Calvey hopes that the case against him will be resolved soon, and plans to continue working in Russia, Titov pointed out. “If the case goes on for a long time, it will be difficult to convince investors to invest into Russia,” the ombudsman noted.

Baring Vostok’s case

Russia’s Investigative Committee launched a criminal case into the embezzlement of 2.5 bln rubles ($38.11 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.

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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