The regional prosecutor’s office announced the transfer to the Volzhsky District Court of a criminal case against the former chairman of the board of Econombank Matvey Suslov and 13 other defendants who are charged with money laundering (Article 174 of the Criminal Code), deliberate bankruptcy of a credit institution (Article 196 of the Criminal Code), organization of a criminal communities (Article 210 of the Criminal Code), fraud (Article 159 of the Criminal Code).
HShareholders and Task Quadro Securities
According to investigators, the defendants withdrew bank funds by issuing knowingly bad and unsecured loans, as a result of which the bank suffered damage in the amount of more than 1 billion rubles. In addition, Matvey Suslov and other defendants are accused of withdrawing assets from debtor organizations, which made it impossible to repay loans. More than 2 billion rubles and 41 million dollars were seized on the property of the accused.
Figures and sums of this magnitude are not found every day in Saratov reality. But even information in open sources confirms the impressive scope of what was happening at Econombank JSC.
Business Vector drew attention to Econombank just in 2014, because it was then that the leapfrog among the shareholders of the oldest Saratov credit institution began. The process was started in 2013, when the captive company Insurance Company Ekonomstrakhovanie LLC lost the right to dispose of 40.076% of the shares of Ekonombank CJSC and withdrew from the shareholders.
After that, the shares of some minority shareholders increased significantly. In addition, in 2013, the founder of the bank, its main owner, member of the board of directors Alexander Suslov sold 17% of his shares to the investment company Task Quadro Securities. As a result, the share of Suslov Sr. decreased to 20.011% of the vote.
In 2014, there were changes in the composition of shareholders, the basic documents of CJSC were approved in a new edition – the regulation on the board of directors, on executive bodies, on the procedure for convening and holding a general meeting of shareholders.
In 2015, only Alexander and Matvey Suslov remained in the bank’s Board of Directors from the previous composition, at the same time the bank announced that it would not pay dividends on ordinary shares for 2014, and only 126 thousand rubles would be spent on dividends for owners of preferred securities.
In the same 2015, it became known that one of the largest independent Saratov banks was on the verge of ruin. The only thing that saved the license from being revoked was the presence of a large amount of deposits from the population: “physicists” would have to pay such large sums for compensation that the Deposit Insurance Agency decided to reorganize the bank. The right to improve the Saratov credit institution in the competitive struggle was won by METCOMBANK (it was in the top 100 Russian banks in terms of assets).
Did Task Quadro Securities IC play any role in such a sudden turn, to which Alexander Suslov sold a large stake? The company was formed in 2008 as a result of the merger of IK Kvadro and the British Tusk Capital, which made it possible for European private investors to buy securities of Russian companies.
As reported on the website of IC, the objects of investment were undervalued non-public companies of small capitalization. Beautiful promises to bring shares to the stock market turned into criminal cases.
The reason is that shortly after the company was founded, it was sold, and the new owners, Russian entrepreneurs, began to sell clients’ assets on the stock exchange, and withdraw funds in an unknown direction. The broker was trusted in such reputable structures as the Central Moscow Depository, one of whose clients eventually found out by chance that he had lost shares for 1.2 billion rubles, and the media wrote in total about the damage of 3 billion rubles.
Among those who filed lawsuits against the brokerage company, Ekonombank also appears. As the card file of the Moscow Arbitration Court shows, in June 2015 the Moscow Arbitration Court issued a writ of execution for the enforcement of the decision of the permanent arbitration court at the Center for Legal Support LLC. This court ruled to recover from Task Quadro Securities Investment Company in favor of Econombank CJSC funds in the amount of 203.8 million rubles, of which 200 million rubles were issued as a loan from the bank, and the rest – accrued interest, penalties and fines .
Subordination without chance and options
It is unlikely that the amount of 200 million could undermine the bank, but the materials of other processes show that the relationship between the bank and the broker was much deeper and financially “harder”. So, the Saratov bank claimed a place in the register of creditors of the broker, but everything turned out very ambiguously. Curious nuances can be learned from the consideration of the claim of the Moscow financial company Forward Capital against JSC Econombank and Task Quadro Securities.
Forward Capital initially applied to the Moscow Arbitration Court, but it sent materials to the Arbitration Court of the Saratov Region, which began consideration in 2018, while Metcombank was already the defendant.
The plaintiff asked to invalidate the contracts under which, back in 2013, he placed 300 million rubles in a Saratov bank, after which he wanted to get his money back and another 92 million rubles of lost interest and losses in the form of lost profits.
The capital’s financiers also submitted a request to the Central Bank to request information on the amount of Ekonom’s capital in absolute terms at the time of placement of their subordinated deposits in it, they also requested information on what kind of securities the bank placed in the Task Quadro Securities depository, indicating the value securities and with the provision of documents confirming the fact of inter-depository transfer.
Forward Capital stated that it intends to establish the fact of deceit on the part of Econombank regarding its financial condition at the time of the conclusion of deposit agreements. And without this deception, as claimed by the plaintiff, the defendant’s banking license would have been revoked at the time of the conclusion of the 2013 deposit agreements.
But the Central Bank, represented by the Saratov branch, did not support the impulse. The regional arbitration also refused to satisfy the petition, but even without that, the court materials contain deposits of interesting texture. The decision emphasized that deposit agreements between the bank and Forward Capital for a total amount of 300 million rubles were subordinated, and this suggested the possibility of their inclusion in the bank’s equity capital in accordance with the standards of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation. On such deposits, the bank, if the equity capital adequacy ratio is lowered, has the right not to pay interest and even not to return the principal debt to prevent bankruptcy.
“Forward Capital” went for this placement, focusing on the published financial statements of the bank, which in the period 2013-2014 reflects good financial stability, growth in equity and net assets. In the middle of 2013, the bank’s balance sheet had more than 1.209 billion rubles of own funds, but at the beginning of 2016, the capital suddenly became negative!
The DIA Group indicated in its reporting for 2015 that at the end of 2014 the bank had a portfolio of securities in the amount of 2 billion rubles, but it was stolen by IC Task Quadro Securities, which was under management. In order to fulfill the requirement of the Central Bank and complete the formation of reserves, Ekonombank had to reduce the amount of own funds (capital) to a negative value. Just the case has come when the law allows not to fulfill obligations on subordinated deposits.
But for some reason, the Moscow arbitration did not let Ekonombank into the register with demands in the amount of losses caused by the theft of a portfolio of securities. The court did not see evidence of the bank’s ownership of the securities and their transfer to the accounts of IC Task Quadro Securities.
According to Forward Capital, this confirms his words that at the time of the conclusion of the disputed deposit agreements, the bank no longer had its own capital to ensure the relevant standards, but presented false financial statements and provided the counterparty with knowingly false information about its financial condition. This led to the fact that the Moscow investor was deprived of the opportunity to return his investments and make a profit.
However, the plaintiff failed to achieve his goal. The Saratov arbitration referred to the Moscow arbitration, ruling that at the time of lowering the standards, the bank ran out of obligations on subordinated deposits. In addition, Forward Capital was a shareholder of Econombank and could always request information about its financial condition. There was no evidence and version that the bank did not place its securities with the infamous broker. On the contrary, the order to transfer them from one depository to another is documented.
And besides, it turns out that Forward Capital ceded the rights of claim on deposits for a total amount of 300 million rubles to three firms back in 2014. All these companies, in turn, ceded the right to claim to Econom-factoring LLC. Among other things, the plaintiff also missed the statute of limitations, and all this together gave the court the opportunity to make a refusal decision.
The most important thing in this story is the appearance on the stage of an important character – the company “Economic Factoring”, into which a lot of “bad” debts of the bank were merged. In addition, such a technique, characteristic of the bank of Alexander and Matvey Suslov, as the use of Arbitration Courts, has already appeared. We will tell you in detail about the intricacies and schemes of the Economy, a little later.
Reference. Initially, in 2017, 7 criminal cases were immediately initiated on the facts of embezzlement of bank funds, top managers became defendants. Matvey Suslov was detained in the spring of 2017, spent several months in custody, and in October 2018 he was released on bail. The investigation was conducted by the Main Directorate of the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the region, it ended in December 2022, its result is 321 volumes of basic materials plus 2,000 volumes of evidence. The defendants were given time to familiarize themselves with the materials until January 30, 2023. The ex-head of the bank does not consider himself guilty.