The police revealed a new episode as part of an investigation into multibillion-dollar embezzlement from the Sudostroitelny Bank (SB Bank), which went bankrupt in April 2015, Kommersant learned. To withdraw $2.2 million from the credit institution, its former top management used the children’s publishing house Rosman, one of the largest in the country, best known for the Harry Potter series of books by the British writer J. K. Rowling.
Debt gone in “Sai-gon”
The case was opened under an article on especially large-scale fraud. As follows from the materials, shortly before license revocation at SB Bank (the Central Bank announced this on February 16, 2015) its ex-co-owner Andrey Vovchenko concluded an assignment agreement with the Kalmyk LLC “Sai-gon”. Under this deal, the company acquired the right to demand a $2.2 million debt from Rosman.
Soon after SB Bank was deprived of its license, Rosman learned that they would have to pay off not with him, but with Saigon. The publishers checked the claim for money, saw nothing suspicious, and in September 2015 transferred $2.2 million to the account of the LLC.
Subsequently, investigators established that Sai-gon did not conduct real business activities. According to the testimony of witnesses, including the CEO of the LLC, the firm was controlled by an ex-banker Stepan Melkonovone of the beneficiaries of the assets stolen from the SB Bank.
The examination also showed that for the right to receive a large debt from Rosmen, Saigon LLC settled with the SB Bank with promissory notes of the Military Industrial Bank worth 1 ruble.
“Kommersant”, 11/01/2022, “Publishers circled around the bank”: Mr. Vovchenko himself, who, like his business partner Melkonov (both are wanted), through his lawyer, told the investigation that the deal for the assignment of the rights to claim this debt on his part was executed in accordance with all the rules. At the same time, he allegedly named some people from the Caucasus as its ultimate beneficiary, apparently alluding to the family of the President of Azerbaijan. Ilham Aliyev, whose members, as the media later claimed, were clients of the SB-Bank. However, I did not find confirmation that Mr. Vovchenko turned this deal in the interests of anyone other than Stepan Melkonov. Moreover, during the interrogation of witnesses, it turned out that no one in SB-Bank itself knew about the cession agreement with Saigon LLC. This fact gives the investigators reason to believe that the document was most likely a fictitious one and that Mr. Vovchenko could have drawn it up retroactively. — Inset K.ru
The money of the publishing house “Rosmen” eventually went to the alleged scammers instead of being in the bankruptcy estate and going to pay creditors. The police are aware of at least five similar contracts for the assignment of rights of claim in the amount of more than 3 billion rubles, none of which received money from SB Bank.
How SB Bank burst
Sudostroitelny Bank was founded in 1994, since 2008 it has become known as SB Bank. His main clients were industrial and commercial companies, some media and travel agencies. The Central Bank revoked the bank’s license for a high-risk lending policy associated with the placement of money in low-quality assets. On April 23, 2015, the Moscow Arbitration Court declared SB Bank bankrupt. Its liabilities to creditors amounted to almost 37 billion rubles.
A number of criminal cases were opened against the former top management of the bank on the withdrawal and theft of assets. Some defendants have already been convicted. Vovchenko and Melkonov managed to leave for Canada and are on the wanted list.