The case of the ex-minister of the “Open Government” Mikhail Abyzov responded in the wallet of the oligarch Andrei Melnichenko, who, at the suggestion of the Prosecutor General’s Office, may be deprived of shares in the large generating company Sibeko. The Melnichenko case may become the thread that leads to Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, who was previously responsible for Russia’s energy assets as head of the Ministry of Energy.
The Moscow Post correspondent in the Krasnoyarsk Territory understood the story.
Recall that the ex-minister of the “Open Government” Mikhail Abyzov is charged with creating a criminal community using his official position, fraud, illegal entrepreneurship and laundering criminally acquired money and property. It was about a scam worth 4 billion rubles. It was this amount, according to the investigation, that was stolen from Sibeko and Regional Electric Networks and taken abroad. Earlier, the Prosecutor General’s Office recovered 32.54 billion rubles from Abyzov and offshore companies affiliated with him to the budget.
The Abyzov case has attracted a whole chain of stories – from the head of the board of directors of DVMP, the parent company of the FESCO group, Andrei Severilov, associated with the head of the board of directors of FEMP, to the deal to buy back Sibeko shares by companies affiliated with the founder of Eurochem and SUEK companies Andrei Melnichenko.
The fact is that the shares of Regional Electric Networks JSC (RES) have previously returned to the state, now it is Sibeko’s turn.
Recall that in May 2023, RES shares by decree of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin were submitted to PJSC Federal Grid Company – Rosseti.
But there is one fact that can play by no means on the side of the Prosecutor General’s Office. The transaction in 2018 on the purchase of Sibeko shares by the SGK structures was approved by the FAS, that is, to pretend that the deal went quietly would not come out in any way, and no one canceled the statute of limitations. But let’s live – we’ll see. It is unlikely that the supervisory authority does not have any proven strategy for this case.
The prosecutor will facilitate Melnichenko’s business portfolio
The Sverdlovsk District Court of the city of Krasnoyarsk on September 7, 2023 plans to begin consideration of the claim of the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation to recover in favor of the state shares of Siberian Energy Company JSC (Sibeko) registered with the Kuzbass Joint Stock Company of Energy and Electrification. The defendant in this lawsuit, in addition to Kuzbassenergo JSC, are Khakass Service and Repair Company JSC and Andrei Melnichenko, whom the plaintiff in the lawsuit calls the beneficiary of the assets.
According to the lawsuit filed on August 17, interim measures were also announced in the form of the arrest of shares, Sibeko property, as well as blocking a number of powers of the company’s management bodies.
Photo: documents provided by the source of The Moscow Post
In its lawsuit, the supervisory authority clarified that these claims arose against the transaction of the purchase and sale of shares by Melnichenko companies from offshore companies associated with ex-Minister Mikhail Abyzov, as part of the supervision of the investigation of the criminal case against the latter.
Photo: documents provided by the source of The Moscow Post
As follows from the lawsuit, the transaction took place in 2018 and shares of Sibeko (95.52%) from Alinor Investments LTD, Best Holdings LTD, Cullen Holdings LTD, Lisento Investments LTD, Vantroso Trading LLD TDs affiliated with Abyzov were bought by Kuzbassenergo JSC and Khakass Service and Repair Company JSC (KhSRK). The total price of transactions amounted to 32.51 billion rubles.
Already in 2019, Abyzov was detained on charges of major fraud, since, being an official, he had no right to do business and legalize illegally obtained funds. Then the promotion of the entire chain began.
Later, according to the prosecutor, the management company – LLC SGK (Siberian Generating Company), in the interests of Kuzbassenergo, sent a mandatory offer for the redemption of securities to the nominal management of KhSRK, which was accepted. As a result, the shares concentrated in the hands of Kuzbassenergo.
Photo: document provided by the source of The Moscow Post
The claim for the recovery of shares was substantiated by the fact that Melnichenko and legal entities controlled by him committed violations of anti-corruption legislation.
“Melnichenko A.I., realizing and realizing that the implementation of entrepreneurial activity by Federal Minister Abyzov M.A., his discussion of the conditions for the sale of shares, control over their sale and, as a result, its enrichment are activities prohibited by anti-corruption legislation and generate an act of corruption, did not refuse to participate in the planned shadow deal,” says Deputy Prosecutor General I.V. Tkachev in the lawsuit.
Photo: document provided by the source of The Moscow Post
Since July 2018, Sibeko has been managed by Siberian Generating Company LLC.
Golden energy reserve of Russia
To understand the weight of the asset, let’s give some facts.
At the end of 2022, Sibeko’s revenue amounted to 38 billion rubles, an increase of 11%, and net profit, becoming 72% more, reached 4.8 billion rubles. Over the years, the company has also been a supplier of more than 16.3 thousand government contracts totaling about 20 billion rubles and a customer in 9.7 thousand contracts worth over 227 billion rubles.
Sibeko is the largest enterprise in Siberia engaged in the production and sale of thermal and electric energy, its division included six thermal power plants in the Novosibirsk region and JSC Sereulsky Section.
In general the SGK division includes Seaside state district power plant, the Krasnoyarsk GRES-2, the Novosibirsk heat distribution company, Reftinsky state district power plant, the Southern thermal station, Novosibirsk – TETs-2, TETs-3, TETs-4, TETs-5 and also the joint-stock company Siberian Engineering and Analytical Center, Siberian Heat Supply Company, South Siberian Heating Network Company, Interregional Heating Network Company, Barnaul Heating Network Company, Kemerovo Heating Network Company, Krasnoyarsk Heating Network, Barabinskaya CHPP, Biyskaya CHPP, Abakanskaya CHPP, Kyzylskaya CHPP, Minusinskaya CHPP, Barnaul CHPP-2 and TETs-3, Belovskaya GRES, Novokuznetskaya gas turbine power plant, Kemerovo GRES, Kemerovo TPP, Kuznetskaya TPP, Novo-Kemerovo CHPP, Tom-Usinskaya GRES, Kanskaya CHPP, Nazarovskaya GRES, Krasnoyarsk – TETs-1, TETs-2 and TETs-3. That is, in fact, under the fifth Melnichenko – the lion layer of the sphere of heat and energy generation of Siberia.
According to Forbes, Melnichenko and his family in 2023 were on the first line of the ranking of the richest businessmen in Russia with a fortune of $25.2 billion. Until March 2022, he had shares in fertilizer producer Eurochem and coal company SUEK, which belong to a discretionary trust. But in March, the oligarch came under sanctions and could, following the example of his “colleagues in the workshop,” hide assets. In addition, earlier Melnichenko tried himself in the banking business, creating MDM Bank.
The city of residence of Melnichenko in the ranking was Ras al-Khaimah (UAE). It was clarified that luxury lover Melnichenko owns a collection of paintings by impressionists, as well as a motor yacht worth $255 million and the world’s largest sailing yacht, estimated at $425 million. Back in 2017, Forbes wrote that Melnichenko actually lives on a boat and spends more than half a year outside Russia.
According to Rusprofile, only the construction LLC Gribovo, established in 2006 and showing zero revenue for 2022, is listed directly behind Andrei Melnichenko from the current legal entities. His partners in this business are Sergey Astanin, Svetlana Mozheiko and former top manager of LUKOIL and active real estate investor Alexander Rappoport.
Melnichenko’s main assets (so accurately until March 2022) are Suek and Eurochem, which are an extensive network, the entirety of which can hardly be disclosed. The fact is that Melnichenko, apparently, does not disdain offshore. For example, the founder of the same JSC “Khakass Service and Repair Company,” which appears in the lawsuit of the Prosecutor General’s Office, since 2021, Natolvero Holding LTD has been listed, which is spelled out in the Seychelles. And Siberian Generating Company LLC, which acts as a management company for assets, belonged to SIBERIAN ENERGY INVESTMENTS LTD and AIMV CAPITAL SI at a certain period of history. Both of the latter are spelled out in Cyprus.
Today, SGK owns 99.94% of SUEK JSC and the remaining share of Novosibirsk Heating Network Company LLC (NTSK). The latter is 99.98% owned by Sibeko JSC. NTSK, on the other hand, was a supplier of 1.2 thousand state contracts worth about 2.4 billion rubles and a customer of 2.1 thousand contracts worth 12.5 billion rubles.
In addition to the already named companies, Sibeko is the owner of the Novosibirsk Energetik LLC (steam and hot water production). Energetik is a supplier in 77 state contracts worth more than 103 million rubles and a customer in 35 contracts worth more than 51 million rubles.
Thus, if the Prosecutor General’s Office wins the dispute, it will pull the chain of ownership of Melnichenko’s other assets, in fact, introducing the state among the co-owners (and in some places full owners). And, judging by the events of 2022, this is by no means superfluous. In May 2022, the FAS has already initiated a case against the Siberian Generating Company, stating that it suspects that it is manipulating prices in the wholesale electricity market and signs of overpricing have been identified.
FAS noted that SGK occupies a dominant position in the second price zone and is one of the group of persons with the largest fuel supplier JSC SUEK, which leads to a significant impact on the formation and change of energy prices in the wholesale electricity and capacity market.
A bell for Novak?
To collect such a business portfolio from Russia’s energy assets, according to rumors, Melnichenko could help one high-ranking official. Rumor has it that the oligarch may have connections with the former Minister of Energy, current Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak – a native of the so-called Krasnoyarsk political elite.
It was during the period when Novak held a post in the Ministry of Energy (in 2012 – November 2020), according to rumors, that Melnichenko’s major transactions took place. For example, in January 2020, PJSC OGK-2, which is part of the Gazprom Energoholding group, sold to the subsidiary of SGK – Yenisei TGC JSC Krasnoyarsk GRES-2 for 10 billion rubles. Or in 2019, Enel Russia sold Reftinskaya GRES to Kuzbassenergo for at least 21 billion rubles.
It is hard to believe that such transactions could have passed, bypassing the “approval” of the relevant department, especially when it comes to Gazprom’s assets.
In addition, Novak, being the head of the Ministry of Energy, visiting the regions where Melnichenko’s business interest was traced, did not refuse to visit his enterprises. For example, in 2015 he visited SUEK-Kuzbass facilities. At the same time, as Rossiyskaya Gazeta wrote, the entire trip to Kuzbass was accompanied not only by a representative of the local authorities – deputy governor of the Kemerovo region Maxim Makin, but also by the general director of SUEK JSC Vladimir Rashevsky.
If you look closely, then, in our opinion, we can say that a new energy monopoly in the person of Melnichenko has formed with the hands of Novak. Therefore, the claim of the Prosecutor General’s Office can be considered as an alarming bell for the Deputy Prime Minister. Moreover, he has already managed to flash in the criminal case of his other protege and former deputy for the Ministry of Energy Anatoly Tikhonov. And smoke, as they say, does not happen without fire…