Cosmic Appetite of Araz Agalarov
The construction of the launch complex for Angara at Vostochny was entrusted to JSC Crocus, a company with an ambiguous reputation.
At the very end of last year, the directorate of the Vostochny cosmodrome (part of the state corporation Roscosmos) signed a contract with JSC Crocus for the construction of a technical complex for the Angara space rocket complex. Crocus is the head legal entity of the Crocus Group of the well-known Russian oligarch Araz Agalarov.
The companies of the latter are contractors for a number of large, strategic projects for our country – the construction of the Central Ring Road, buildings of the Far Eastern Federal University, and others. In many cases, construction projects were accompanied by corruption scandals and a host of other difficulties.
The amount of the contract, if not “cosmic”, then very high – over 15 billion rubles. Agalarov’s structure received the contract without competition – it was concluded with a single supplier. On the same day, another contract worth 907 million rubles was signed with the group for the gasification of spaceport facilities.
At the same time, Crocus already has a contract at Vostochny. In 2020, the structure of Agalarov, also, without a competition, received the right to build the first stage of the airport complex at the cosmodrome. The cost was 28 billion rubles. It turns out that the structures of “Crocus” contracted with “Roskosmos” in the amount of more than 44 billion rubles.
The state corporation headed by Yuri Borisov explained the new agreement on the Angara complex with the first contract for the airport. They say that Crocus already has construction capacities at the site, as well as the competencies necessary for such work. Then why did Crocus get the first contract? At that time, there were no construction facilities of the company at Vostochny.
The second stage of the construction of the airfield will be carried out in the period from 2026 to 2029. It is not difficult to assume that Crocus will also receive it. But will everything be delivered on time and without problems? During the leadership of Dmitry Rogozin at Roskosmos, a whole series of corruption scandals thundered at Vostochny, and the commissioning of the first stage of the space harbor had to be postponed due to identified shortcomings.
This has happened before – in 2018, serious defects were revealed on the Vostochny launch pad. The experts found leaks in the concreting joints through the formwork fastening holes, and also found violations at the central distribution point, where welding was used instead of a coupling to connect the reinforcement.
Roof from “Crocus” leaked
It seems that Yuri Borisov wants to join the dubious fame of the former head of the state corporation Rogozin: a large number of problems are associated with the projects that the group implemented, some of which were accompanied by criminal scandals.
One of the notable cases is the egregious situation with the buildings of the Far Eastern Federal State University (DFGU) on Russky Island near Vladivostok. The construction of the campus has become one of the largest projects in Russia over the past 20 years. Crocus Group of Araz Agalarov acted as the general contractor for the construction.
The initially declared construction cost of 55 billion rubles quickly grew to 68 billion. In 2012, the APEC summit was held there, and in 2022, the Eastern Economic Forum with the participation of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who, along with other officials and guests, lived directly in the buildings of the Far Eastern Federal University.
It was then, last September, that a big scandal erupted. It turned out that the roof of the campus was leaking in many places, and people were forced to sleep in what appeared to be almost half-damp rooms.
Then a document got onto the Web – an official letter addressed to the Presidential Adviser Anton Kobyakov on behalf of the acting. Head of the DFGU Boris Korobets. The letter said that these negative consequences (leaks) are the result of the destruction of the building envelope – roofs, facades and stained-glass windows, and cannot be eliminated by the university itself. Including, even with the attraction of funds allocated annually for the organization of the forum, and this is about 200 million rubles.
Thus, it can be assumed that Agalarov’s “Crocus Group” could pass from the country’s most important construction projects with defects embedded in it. Perhaps we could talk about low-quality materials, which is very strange, given the enormous cost of construction. Will it really be necessary to correct the shortcomings at the state expense of hundreds of millions of rubles?
Experts and law enforcement officers should understand this. But if this could be allowed at the Far Eastern State University, then could something similar happen at the construction site of the complex for the Angara and the airport on Vostochny? Only in the case of space launches and transport, this can lead to much more serious consequences, including the probable loss of life.
It is noteworthy that after the completion of the FEFU, Araz Agalarov himself mentioned that he did not like to implement the project on Russky Island. Allegedly, the structure did not earn anything at this construction site, and even spent its own funds – on the construction of the road and landscaping for 3.6 billion rubles, of which the Ministry of Finance allegedly returned only 1.1 billion rubles.
It is very difficult to believe that a major Russian oligarch at a construction site at public expense could go into the red.
Advances “rolled up”
Other major construction projects of Crocus were not without problems either. Another landmark project of national importance is the construction of the Central Ring Road (TsKAD) around Moscow, where the oligarch’s company acted as the first stage contractor.
According to Life.ru, the company actually disrupted the construction site, the commissioning of the facility was constantly postponed. Huge complaints about the work of Avtodor, as a customer, and JSC Crocus International (a subsidiary of Crocus Group), as a contractor, arose from the Accounts Chamber of Russia.
The auditors considered that the funds allocated for the implementation of the project from the National Welfare Fund were spent inefficiently, which led to an increase in the cost from the rock of construction.
The Accounts Chamber noted a low level of execution: as of December 1, 2016, the cost of accepted work on the start-up complex No. 1 is 1 billion rubles. or 2% of the scope of work provided for by the agreement. Two percent of the hundred needed. For start-up complex No. 5 – 2.9 billion rubles, or 6.8%.
In addition, Crocus Group attracted many subcontractors who could receive mere pennies for their work. This was written by the News Agency “Construction business”.
Apparently, Crocus Group mastered the money, but something went wrong with the work, which allows us to suspect a corruption component in the situation. And such a scandal soon erupted – the former head of Avtodor Sergey Kelbakh, who signed a contract with Crocus and was responsible for transferring funds to the company, fell under investigation.
Kelbakh was suspected of abuse of power. According to investigators, he illegally agreed on the payment of a bank guarantee in the amount of 3.9 million rubles by Koltsevaya Magistral LLC, and two years later agreed on the illegal provision of an additional advance payment of 2 billion rubles to JSC Crocus International. Write about it “Arguments and Facts”.
The construction of the Central Ring Road “Crocus” turned into big problems
An advance payment of 2 billion rubles is precisely an additional one. In total, in April 2015, 21.7 billion rubles were allocated from the FNB to the construction site. As of November 1, 2016, Avtodor used 14.6 billion rubles, of which the bulk, i.e. 12.6 billion rubles went in the form of the first advance payment to Crocus International.
In total, 48 billion rubles were allocated for the work of Crocus in the Central Ring Road. The total cost of construction, initially estimated at 300 billion rubles, eventually significantly exceeded this amount.
Litigation began between Crocus and Avtodor. The state-owned company presented claims to the structure of the oligarch for 5.4 billion rubles.
Moreover, the structures of “Crocus” receive government contracts regularly. The total amount of JSC “Crocus”, which will build on the “Vostochny”, with new orders exceeded 61.5 billion rubles.
At the same time, the financial position of the company raises big questions. At the end of 2021, it showed a loss of 5.8 billion rubles with a revenue of 44 billion. According to Forbes, the profit received by Araz Agalarov’s Crocus Group is now only enough to service loans, the amount of which is 120 billion rubles. It is the state contractors that help him to stay afloat.
It turns out that Russian officials are busy saving the business of Araz Agalarov. But what about efficiency, implementation of strategic projects and high quality of work?
It seems that the head of Roskosmos, Yuri Borisov, is not very worried, because he should be aware of the situation with the business of the Crocus Group. And this, in turn, means that the construction of “Crocus” on “Vostochny” may end in a big cut.