MOSCOW, February 25. /TASS/. President Vladimir Putin will be informed about Baring Vostok’s request to take personal control of the criminal case launched against the fund’s founder Michael Calvey and other defendants, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.
Peskov said he does not know whether Vladimir Putin has already received the corresponding letter.
“I don’t know whether the president saw the letter and how it was handed over, but at least we will inform the President about the letter published in the media,” he said.
Speaking about the likelihood that Putin will indeed personally control the course of the investigation, the spokesman noted that he “would not like to indulge in fantasies.”
“Obviously, it is a high profile case and, of course, it is under special control in those services that perform investigative activities. As for the president, he is briefed about some details related to investigative activities. Of course he will be informed about this request,” Peskov said.
The Kremlin spokesman also said that according to his information, the Russian leader has not discussed Calvey’s case with head of the Central Bank Elvira Nabiullina.
“I do not know about this,” he said, answering the question whether there was such a discussion by telephone.
However, the Kremlin spokesman noted that the president and ministers of the government’s economic bloc “are in constant telephone contact.”
Earlier on Monday, Baring Vostok published an open letter to President Vladimir Putin.
“In order to ensure a comprehensive, independent and objective investigation of this criminal case, we hereby ask that you take personal control of the criminal case that has been initiated against M. D. Calvey, V. L. Abgaryan, I. N. Zyuzin, P. Delpal, M. S. Vladimirov and A. S Kordichev,” according to the letter.
The fund’s management stresses that “Russian courts and law enforcement authorities in recent years have reduced the use of imprisonment as a form of pre-trial detention for cases related to commercial activities.”
“This approach has helped eliminate the possibility of putting undue pressure on a business partner as part of a business conflict. Despite these legal requirements, the individuals listed above have been imprisoned during the pre-trial period,” according to the letter.
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 billion-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.
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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