The dispute between close and distant relatives of the late billionaire is about to reach the court higher judicial authority. If it turns out that Maxim Repin is just a nominal owner of the assets, then is the same true for Timur Frank? The division of Shchukin’s inheritance is under Russian jurisdiction, despite the fact that he obviously has a lot left in offshore.
July 19 marks two years since the death of Alexander Schukin, the former co-owner of the Sibuglemet holding and an iconic figure in latest history of Kuzbass. In 2011, Forbes included him among the 200 richest people in Russia, estimating his fortune at $1.8 billion. It’s funny, but the deceased continues to be the owner of two dozen companies in a variety of industries – from property management and deer breeding to the sale of cars and medicines. The reason is simple: the businessman’s widow disputes his “last” will.
The document appeared under extremely strange circumstances. He points out that almost all family assets should go to Maxim Repin, a distant relative of Shchukin. It was Repin, along with Timur Frank, who became the owner of a number of Shchukin’s assets against the backdrop of a criminal case against their real beneficiary, who spent 4.5 years under house arrest.
As we remember, in 2016, Alexander Shchukin, together with two deputies of Aman Tuleev, at that time the permanent governor of the Kemerovo region, was accused of extorting shares of the Inskoy coal mine. In court, Shchukin admitted that he was interested in this enterprise, but had no idea what methods the officials would use to take the deposit from the former owner. He did not hear the verdict – neither accusatory nor acquittal. It was reported that the cause of death of a businessman was the consequences of COVID-19. Shortly before this, 70-year-old Shchukin underwent heart surgery and, as we have already said, allegedly excluded close relatives from the will.
Before suddenly becoming a co-owner of a dozen companies, Mr. Repin, apparently, had no experience in big business and is believed to have been a simple driver. The widow of a businessman, Yevgenia Shchukina, previously stated that a few days after the funeral she received a call from Olga Siksina, a former legal adviser, and now the head of a number of companies in which Maxim Repin received shares. According to the widow, Siksina asked her to come to the office and sign the documents. It so happened that an elderly woman, clearly under the influence of stress, issued a waiver of inheritance. Now she’s trying to win back everything.
Whether the billionaire died by his own death is a question to which no one seems to have an answer. Litigation, initiated by his widow, looks like the only obstacle on the way of the nominal owner to the sale of enterprises. It won’t take long to find buyers for them.
Reissued to themselves
Just the other day, the Kemerovo Regional Court received a cassation appeal against the decisions of lower courts that refused Evgenia Shchukina to cancel the will. Parallel to this process, the widow is challenging the “restructuring” of the family business. Here it came to filing a complaint with the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation. A date for its hearing has not yet been set.
Among other things, Evgenia Shchukina demanded to invalidate a number of transactions involving Absolut-NK LLC. This firm has 20 subsidiaries and has become something of a core family asset. The head is Olga Siksina, the founders at the moment are Maxim Repin (90%), Evgenia Shchukina (8%), Alfacapital LLC (1%) and Andrey Skopintsev (1%). So, according to the case files in arbitration courts, it turned out that the persons acting by proxy on behalf of Evgenia Shchukina made a number of buildings and land plots belonging to her as contributions to the property of Absolut-NK LLC. As far as can be understood, the contributions were made free of charge and did not affect the distribution of shares in the company’s capital.
In addition, the businessman’s widow demanded to invalidate the alienation transactions in favor of Absolut-NK LLC of 95% of the shares in Parking LLC, Victoria LLC and Norma LLC, as well as 100% of the shares of Omega LLC. The last of the listed companies, owned by Evgenia Shchukina, should be considered separately.
LLC “Omega” holds in trust management of shares in 14 enterprises that Alexander Shchukin retained. In most of them, 80% of the capital belongs to Maxim Repin, 20% – to the late Alexander Shchukin. The general director of three such firms is Olga Siksina, two more are managed by L.V. Repin and Yu.V. Repin – apparently, relatives of Maxim. All these details may seem tedious, but they are important, since the list of companies with the participation of Omega LLC includes owners of expensive real estate, for example: Usgaz LLC, Grand Motors LLC, Invest-NK LLC and Bayern LLC -KarAvto. Such assets are clearly worth a two-year litigation.
Among the companies in which the shares of Maxim Repin and Alexander Schukin are distributed in proportions of 80/20, there is also Yeti House LLC.
This company, among other things, manages a luxury hotel in the Sheregesh ski resort (Tashtagolsky district of the Kemerovo region). Mr. Repin appeared among its founders in 2021, that is, at a time when Shchukin was already under investigation.
Around the same time, a new director appeared at Yeti House LLC – Olga Zalesskaya. In 2016, she was the head of Magma TEK LLC, which supplied large batches of fuel under government contracts. The co-owner of Magma is Maxim Nesin, the former founder of Kuzbass Fuel and Energy Company LLC (declared bankrupt in 2020). According to publications in open sources, this man was friends with the son of the current Deputy Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, Sergei Nazarov, who is considered by some to be a lobbyist for the interests of Mechel Group of Companies, billionaire Igor Zyuzin. Prior to his appointment to the federal ministry, Sergey Nazarov worked at the representative office of Mechel OAO in the Southern Federal District.
If so, then Olga Zalesskaya could represent several interested parties at once in the purchase of the “former” assets of Alexander Shchukin. In addition to Yeti House LLC, in 2020–2021 she was the CEO of Parking LLC and Victoria LLC, which we have already mentioned. We don’t know why her employment with these firms ended so quickly. But, it is likely that potential buyers of the Shchukin business were disappointed by the protracted lawsuits over the division of the inheritance.
Maxim Repin was not the only one who got the assets of the coal king when he was under investigation. In 2018, Alexander Shchukin accused his lawyer Timur Frank of taking over the business. Being a hired employee, he pulled off several transactions, as a result of which his boss parted ways with JSC “ITEK”, which acted as a holder of shares and shares in other businesses. In particular, “ITEK” through LLC “Alfa” owned 44% of LLC “Razrez Kuznetsky Yuzhny”. As a result of the multi-way combination, Frank’s company Adonis LLC became the owner of almost 70% of Alfa LLC. The structure of this business subsequently changed. Now Timur Frank owns 15% of Open Pit Kuznetsky Yuzhny LLC, 36.82% and 33.18% of the company are held by Karbotech LLC and Romena LLC, 7.5% of the coal mine belongs to individuals – Ivan Pavoroznyuk and Artyom Akivaev .
With all this, until the death of Alexander Shchukin, many in Kuzbass believed that public accusations against Timur Frank were a front and in reality he allegedly remained only a nominal owner of assets. Until 2018, he was mentioned in the press only as a lawyer who represented the interests of Shchukin when considering the claim of JSC “ITEK” against JSC “SHTK” and JSC “SHTU”. He does not participate in the lawsuit between Evgenia Shchukina, Maxim Repin and Olga Siksina. However, it is Timur Frank who can be considered the most knowledgeable person about the offshore part of the empire of the late coal magnate.
In the suit of Evgenia Shchukina to cancel the will, which was considered in the first instance by the Zavodskoy District Court of Novosibirsk, Elena Alexandrovna and Olga Alexandrovna Shchukin appeared as third parties. At the same time, according to the common version of the biography of the billionaire, Elena was his only daughter. More than 10 years ago, she married Ildar Uzbekov, the son of the former top manager of Gazprom structures, Fuad Uzbekov. The couple settled in London, where Elena Shchukina is known as the owner of an art gallery in the prestigious Mayfair area. Ildar Uzbekov, according to media reports, managed a number of offshore companies of his father-in-law, pumping the profits of Russian companies into them.