The appeal of the former manager of the Merlion Group of Companies to Western entrepreneurs can seriously complicate the life of the owners Oleg Karchev of the group who are under investigation.
According to the correspondent The Moscow Posta new scandal flares up related to the notorious distributor of computer equipment Merlion Group of Companies and its beneficiaries, and first of all, with Oleg Karchev.
The day before, the former CEO and minority co-owner of the group, Vyacheslav Simonenko, sent letters to the headquarters of large Western IT companies Lenovo, Apple, Acer, Dell, Cisco and Intel, pointing out alleged economic crimes, corruption cases and tax fraud related to their Russian partner – Merlion Group of Companies.
According to Simonenko, Western firms should be aware of the criminal practices allegedly used by Merlion in Russia. Simonenko himself previously worked at the Merlion Group of Companies – from 1997 to 2015, and left it, as he claims, for ethical reasons.
The piquancy of the situation lies in the fact that, by and large, it can damage not only the Merlion business, but also the reputation of the entire Russian business in the eyes of Western investors and partners.
But is the author of the appeal guilty of this? ..
Let’s start with the fact that Simonenko said that former colleagues tried to kill him, the full text of his appeal is given by the American edition. american daily post. Note that the story of the assassination attempt on Simonenko is not new, it is well known to law enforcement agencies in Russia.
Recall that in 2015, after Symonenko left the Merlion, Molotov cocktails were thrown at his house. It was only by pure chance that no one died. A criminal case was initiated, which is now being investigated in the Central Office of the Sledkom of the Russian Federation.
Vyacheslav Simonenko and his family nearly burned to death in their own house
During the investigation of that incident, the majority shareholders of Merlion Oleg Karchev, Vladislav Mangustov, Alexei Abramov, as well as Boris Levin, who is considered the de facto head of the security service of the Civil Code, were detained and arrested.
The latter has already been a defendant in the criminal case on the kidnapping of Euroset freight forwarder Andrey Vlaskin. It led to a change in the owners of the company and the flight of the founder of the group, Evgeny Chichvarkin, from the country. At the same time, the court later acquitted Levin himself.
Simonenko claims that the investigators also uncovered a series of other possible crimes by the owners of the Merlion. Namely: facts of non-payment of taxes to the Russian budget, corruption schemes in deliveries to state institutions of the Russian Federation, forgery of documents, schemes for the production of “black cash”.
All this should be assessed by the competent authorities and the court. Only, it seems that the influence and finances of the Merlion owners are doing their job. The case has not yet been closed, and all the defendants are already at large.
In February 2021, the measure of restraint from detention in a pre-trial detention center to house arrest was also changed for Oleg Karchev, who is called the main character in the Merlion Group of Companies. In March of the same year, this preventive measure was also changed – from house arrest to a ban on certain actions. Wrote about it “Kommersant”.
We repeat – the guilt of these citizens must still be proven.
The perpetrators of the crime were also found. One of them died under unclear circumstances even before the guards got to him. Another gave a confession.
As for the reasons that could have provoked the assassination attempt on Symonenko, this is most likely again money. Tired of enduring what was happening in the company, Simonenko resigned and was supposed to receive a “golden parachute” in the amount of $5 million. But the beneficiaries paid him only $500,000, explaining the refusal of the rest of the funds by the fact that he allegedly “stealed”. And then Symonenko decided to seek the truth in law enforcement agencies …
It is already clear now: Simonenko’s appeal to Western companies is capable of making a lot of noise and seriously complicating Merlion’s interaction with partners. And not only “Merlion” …
To clarify, Merlion is one of the largest Russian private companies. The group includes the electronics distributor of the same name (215 thousand positions in the portfolio; No. 2 in the rating of the largest wholesale companies according to RAEX), the online retailer Citilink (No. 2 in the list of the largest online stores according to Data Insight) and other companies. They employ almost 15 thousand people. Revenue for 2020 – over 400 billion rubles.
It is Karchev who is considered the main owner. He joined the company much later than Simonenko, in 2004, already having his own business, the Taysu computer equipment supply company.
He quickly gained a dominant position in the Merlion. According to the authors of the site The Bell (recognized as a foreign agent on the territory of the Russian Federation) with reference to the interviewed participants in this business: allegedly, in many respects, the work of the Merlion was based on illegal schemes, bribes to customs officers, tax evasion. Like, it was impossible to work differently at that time.
Karchev is considered a very successful entrepreneur, but any luck eventually ends.
The criminal case of the co-owners of “Merlion” shocked the market. But the fact is that this can only be an episode of Karchev’s violent activity. After all, the distributor of computer equipment is far from his only business.
For example, it was Oleg Karchev who previously owned the collapsed Rost group, which included seven credit institutions at once: Rost Bank, SKA-Bank, Tveruniversalbank, Kedr, Uralprivatbank, Akkobank and Baikalinvestbank “.
“Secret” banker Karchev
Under Karchev, the hole in the Rost group reached 50 billion rubles. And despite the fact that there were no claims against Karchev as a result of this, there is certainly a wide field for investigation by the competent authorities.
When Rost started having problems, with the light hand of Karchev and the Central Bank, he came under the reorganization of Binbank Mikhail Gutseriev and his nephew Mikhail Shishkhanov. Then it was about five structures: Rost Bank, Kedr Bank, Tveruniversalbank, SKA-Bank, and Akkobank.
The sad fate of Binbank is well known to everyone. The structure actually “fell apart” with a hole of 300 billion rubles. Considering that Binbank took the former structures of Karchev with a “hole” of 35 billion rubles, this deal could help Binbank actually sink into oblivion. Subsequently, Shishkhanov himself stated that Rost Bank had become a sad acquisition for them, and he himself never stole any money. His words are quoted “BUSINESS Online”.
This was preceded by a chain of events.
- Earlier, Oleg Karchev married Evgenia Vlasova, the largest shareholder of Rost Bank. Then Rost Bank became a shareholder of the Kolyma Refinery. After that, he issued loans at good interest to gold miners. And when the gold accumulated at the plant, it disappeared somewhere. Two tons! wrote about the situation TASS.
- The factory manager was at fault. The plant was closed, 200 people lost their jobs, and Karchev had nothing to do with it. However, there were those who considered the director a “scapegoat”.
- But after the collapse of Rost, Oleg Karchev did not completely lose his banking business. Realist Bank remained behind him and his partners. In May 2020, he joined the dying Baikalinvestbank to Realist. According to rumors, the measure was supposed to absorb what was left of Baikalinvestbank since the collapse of the Rost group.
Today Oleg Karchev owns 32% of the structure. He is also the chairman of the board of directors. His partners in the Merlion and the criminal case, Vladislav Mangutov and Alexei Abramov, also have their own shares of 33% in the bank. Interestingly, in open sources, including popular ones, such as “Banki.ru”for some reason there is no information on the financial performance of the structure for the last year.
Does Realist bank hide its financial performance from the general public, and if so, why?
It is very strange. Perhaps the information was simply hidden from the general public (and is it legal?), because in past years, many questions could have arisen for the bank.
For example, as I wrote earlier The Moscow Post, from October 2019 to October 2020, the bank’s profit indicators and assets grew. But the two most important credit ratios H2 and H3 were in deep red.
Or another indicator: from May 2020 to October 2020 (since the merger of Baikalinvestbank), the structure’s return on assets immediately fell by 40% and the return on equity by 45%. This could indicate a deterioration in the quality of the structure’s assets. But now this statistics is not publicly available (on the same resource “Banki.ru”). It’s as if someone deliberately “blacked out” all the financial indicators!
There is an opinion that dubious transactions could pass through the bank, and Karchev and his partners, being under a criminal case, tried to sharply clean up the tails.
However, there is still some information in open sources about Realist Bank. According to the authors of the site “Bankdrome”, allegedly from January 2019 to May 2020, the bank’s equity either fell sharply from 1.13 billion rubles to just over 800 million, then went up to the same 1.13 billion rubles. One gets the impression that some assets could be withdrawn from the bank, and then “pumped up” with others.
Today Karchev, being under a criminal case, remains the founder of about 10 organizations. His ex-wife Elena Vlasova is also actively involved in business. She, along with her ex-husband, can stand behind the offshore company from Belize “Tiavis Commerce Ltd”, which owns the company “Alventa Style” LLC.
“Merlion” is also “tied” to offshore companies. First of all, to the Cypriot Merlion Group Limited. The same offshore owns one of the largest assets of Merlion, Citilink, the parent LLC Merlion, and a number of other companies. Including the structure that should be associated with Realist Bank – Realist Invest LLC.
Many of these companies – the same Citilink or Merlion LLC – are major recipients of government contracts. That is spud budget money. The last structure’s portfolio has already swelled up to 862 million rubles. Among counterparties, for example, Sberbank.
Perhaps the representatives of these state structures also need to be shown Vyacheslav Simonenko’s appeal to the Western partners of the Merlion?