MOSCOW, March 14. / TASS /. The arrest of Michael Calvey, the founder of the Baring Vostok investment fund, is an excessive measure, and the case itself raises questions and negatively affects the Russian market, head of VTB Bank Andrei Kostin told reporters on Thursday.
“Being in a pre-trial detention center, especially for a long time, without a court decision, of course, is wrong. When it comes to Calvey, this measure is certainly excessive. At the very least, what we know raises many questions, and therefore there is no unequivocal clarity as I see it, on whether or not the person is guilty,” Kostin said. According to him, the circumstances the Baring Vostok case and Calvey’s arrest are “incomprehensible to business and not fully transparent, therefore they cause concern and negatively affect the market.” Kostin noted that “entrepreneurs are people, just like everyone else,” and actions when it comes to business should always be transparent, so that it would not be perceived as “picking on” business.
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 chairperson 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.”
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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