Tax schemes of the Tyumen “Arsib”
Did the structures of the Stepanyan family evade taxes due to ties with the ex-deputy governor? In Tyumen, the process of bankruptcy of commercial structures affiliated with the Arsib holding, controlled by the large Stepanyan family, continues at full speed. In a number of cases, the Federal Tax Service comes forward with a claim for financial insolvency, trying to collect tax debts of hundreds of millions of rubles.
In particular, an application for bankruptcy of the Metallstroytorg company was sent to the regional arbitration. In 2021, the court already considered a similar claim and even introduced bankruptcy proceedings against the debtor, but in the end the case was dismissed, which was preceded by a statement by the manager Dmitry Sutormin about the resignation. Also at the end of last year, the arbitration received applications from the Federal Tax Service on the insolvency of Vershina LLC and the Tyumen Construction Company. Uprnabsbyt LLC is in the process of bankruptcy, whose bankruptcy trustee Oksana Ulitina is seeking to bring the former management of the company, as well as its co-owners Samvel Stepanyan, Sergo Stepanyan and Andranik Gabrielyan, to subsidiary liability. Litigation related to the liquidation of Metalloptorg LLC, the liquidator of which is Hrayr Stepanyan, continues. Previously, he headed the Aqua construction company associated with Arsib, which gained notoriety after the construction of the Gorizont residential complex in Tyumen, where residents revealed numerous violations committed in connection with deviations from the original project. According to experts, the bankruptcy of enterprises with significant tax debts has long been a kind of “tactic” of the beneficiaries of Arsib. Successful tax evasion could be facilitated by the family’s connections with influential Tyumen officials, in particular, the vice speaker of the regional Duma, Natalya Shevchik, who served as deputy and first deputy head of the region for almost 20 years and resigned after Alexander Moor was elected governor. The former husband of the official, Vladimir Shevchik, is a large Tyumen developer engaged in development, the general director of Sibintel-Holding. Shevchik and the Stepanyans could have had a common goal – to oust the Brusnika construction company, owned by former Tyumen City Duma deputy Alexei Krukovsky, from the region.
Tax bankrupt Metallstroytorg
The application of the interdistrict IFTS No. 14 for the Tyumen region on the bankruptcy of the Metallstroytorg company and the introduction of bankruptcy proceedings against the debtor was accepted for consideration by the regional arbitration court at the end of December. From the text of the court ruling, it follows that we are talking about the inclusion in the register of creditors of debt in the amount of more than 178.4 million rubles. A number of budgetary institutions, including the Tyumen Gostekhnadzor, Rosreestr, the FSSP Administration, and others, have been announced as third parties to participate in the process. The court session is scheduled for January 26.
The official owner and general director of Metallstroytorg LLC, which specializes in the wholesale trade of metal, is businessman Arsen Grigoryan. The latest data on the financial performance of the enterprise, available in open sources, are dated 2018: then, with a solid revenue of almost 266 million and an asset value of 9.7 million, a very modest profit of 777 thousand rubles was declared.
Meanwhile, according to Pravda URFO, the debtor company is affiliated with the management of the large Tyumen holding Arsib, which is controlled by the well-known Stepanyan family in the region. In particular, on the official website of ArsibHoldingGroup, Samvel Stepanyan is listed as the chairman of its board of directors.
Arsen Grigoryan himself acts as the owner or head of a number of commercial structures, including Enki Metallobaza LLC and Enki Trading House LLC.
“It is under the Enki brand that the holding sells ferrous metal products through a dozen branches in the region, entering the top 5 directions,” Pravda URFO reports.
But for the majority of de jure enterprises owned by Grigoryan, the situation with financial indicators resembles that of Metallstroytorg. For example, at the end of 2021, the revenue of Enki Metal Depot amounted to 345.8 million rubles, profit – 1.1 million. During the same period, Vershina LLC, which specializes in the construction of residential and non-residential facilities, declared a revenue of 438.4 million rubles and a profit of 2 million rubles. By the way, at the end of December, the tax department applied to the Tyumen Regional Arbitration Court with a claim for the bankruptcy of Vershina.
Last year, some of the companies previously controlled by Grigoryan officially changed ownership: Vardan Stepanyan became one, while the previous owner still retains directorships. However, their financial situation speaks for itself. Thus, the proceeds of Avangard LLC, which is engaged in renting and managing property, amounted to 177.4 million, profit – 451 thousand rubles. Perhaps the money is tritely withdrawn, and the companies themselves “merge”?
Hrayr Stepanyan, “Aqua” and the scandal in “Horizon”
It is indicative that an attempt to bankrupt Metallstroytorg has already taken place: in April 2021, the enterprise even introduced the bankruptcy proceedings, but a few months later, Dmitry Sutormin, appointed as the manager, wrote an application for release from his duties. There were no people wishing to take the vacant seat, and in May 2022, the regional arbitration issued a ruling to terminate the proceedings.
But it seems that the structure of Arsen Grigoryan is ahead of a whole series of bankruptcy proceedings. In addition to the aforementioned Vershina LLC, in December the same MI FTS No. 14 filed a lawsuit on the financial insolvency of Tyumen Construction Company LLC (TSK), until March last year, controlled by Grigoryan, and then re-registered to Sergei Prokoptsev. Let us note that at the end of last year, with a revenue of 1.2 billion rubles, the profit of TSK amounted to 6.5 million.
It turns out that even with such a solid revenue, the company’s owners preferred not to pay taxes, the debt for which amounted to about 14 million rubles.
At the same time, legal proceedings are ongoing in Tyumen related to the liquidation of Metalloptorg LLC, owned by Varditer Nersisyan, and the liquidator – Hrayr Stepanyan (another representative of a very large clan). In October last year, the Federal Tax Service for the Tyumen Region filed a lawsuit to bring Nersisyan, Stepanyan, and Enki Stroy LLC to subsidiary liability, demanding from them the reimbursement of tax debts in the amount of 13.8 million rubles, plus 6.3 million fines. In November, the regional arbitration issued a ruling on the adoption of interim measures in respect of the property of the co-defendants.
And soon, at the end of November, Hrayr Stepanyan ceased to appear as the general director of the Aqua Special Construction Company, giving way to Tigran Soghomonyan. To date, Soghomonyan is the sole founder of Pioner-Agro LLC, which specializes in the cultivation of grain crops, whose managing organization is Slobodo-Turinsky Agroholding, co-owned by Mariam Samvelovna Stepanyan, presumably the daughter of the chairman of the board of directors of Arsib Holding Group Samvel Stepanyan. In addition, Mariam Stepanyan owns Tyumenspetstrans LLC, which is engaged in the rental and leasing of vehicles, and Hrayr Stepanyan, whom we already know, was previously among its founders.
The aforementioned development company “Aqua” built the notorious Tyumen residential complex “Horizon”. At the beginning of 2019, the media wrote that after the settlement of buildings 2 and 4 of house No. 2 on the street. Melnikayte, the residents complained about the numerous shortcomings they identified: leaking pipes, non-working ventilation, icing on the windows, non-compliance with fire safety standards, etc. Most of the violations, the authors of the complaints associated with deviations from the original project, which guided the developer when selling apartments to equity holders. But Hrayr Stepanyan, who was in charge of Aquay at that time, flatly refused to eliminate the shortcomings, shifting it to the tenants themselves and the management company.
Bankruptcy as a “favorite tactic”
It seems that today the “empire” of the Stepanyanovs and their business partners is beginning to burst at the seams. Uprnabsbyt LLC, which was engaged in the lease and management of real estate, is already in the process of bankruptcy, owned by Samvel Stepanyan, Sergo Stepanyan and Andranik Gabrielyan. In November last year, Oksana Ulitina, the bankruptcy trustee of the enterprise, initiated proceedings to bring to subsidiary liability for debts in the amount of 459.9 million rubles co-owners, as well as former managers Maxim Dudarev, Alexander Borovinsky and Idris Keloev (the latter is the official owner and current general director of LLC ” Enki Stroy, co-defendant for the debts of Metalloptorg). Mariam Stepanyan is also among the defendants.
As Pravda URFO reported, while the lawsuit was being considered, Ulitina achieved the introduction of restrictive measures: the court seized the property of these persons, leaving them money within the subsistence level and other incomes that cannot be levied by law. It is noteworthy that earlier, Tyumenoblsnabsbyt JSC, whose managing organization is MC Arsib Holding Group, applied for the recovery of 279.2 million rubles from Uprsnabsbyt.
It is worth paying attention to the financial performance of Arsib Holding Group Management Company LLC, owned by Levon Stepanyan, and earlier Andranik Gabrielyan, who was already known to us. At the end of 2021, the revenue of the management company, which is tied to a significant part of the holding’s structures, amounted to 57.4 million rubles, profit – 4.9 million, the value of assets – “minus” 71.3 million. Perhaps in the near future the company will also be doomed to bankruptcy, as is the case with other family-owned firms?
It should be noted that the media and telegram channels have repeatedly called the bankruptcy of enterprises with significant tax debts a “favorite tactic” and “constant practice” of Arsib beneficiaries, which it is high time to pay attention to law enforcement officers. But it is not excluded that numerous Stepanyans were supported by very influential representatives of the Tyumen political elite. Among these “patrons”, in particular, include the current deputy chairman of the regional Duma, Natalya Shevchik.
“Arsib” “under the wing” of Mrs. Shevchik?
Natalya Shevchik can rightly be called one of the political “long-livers” of Tyumen. Former head of the ideological department of the Central Republic of Kazakhstan of the CPSU, back in 2001 she became deputy governor, and in 2010 – the first deputy governor of the Tyumen region, having stayed in office until December 2019. Her resignation was associated with the arrival of Alexander Moor as head of the region, who first appointed Shevchik as his adviser on “strategic issues”, and then sent her to “honorary exile” in the regional Duma.
The ex-husband of the official, Vladimir Shevchik, is also a well-known personality: a businessman, the general director of Sibintel Holding, whose structures control a number of large objects, such as the Tyumen shopping centers Voyage Gallery, Goodwin, Premier, the Pyotr Stolypin business house ”, club house “Vivaldi”, water park “LetoLeto”. The press suggested that the divorce of the spouses could be fictitious and was caused, among other things, by the desire of the deputy governor to hide information about the foreign property belonging to the family. At the same time, Natalia Shevchik received a wonderful opportunity not to reflect in the declaration the income of her ex-husband, whom the Tyumen media call an “oligarch”.
Be that as it may, permits for the construction of Shevchik’s structure were obtained without any problems. Among the main competitors of “Sibintel-Holding” were “Arsib” and the company “Brusnika” ex-deputy of the Tyumen City Duma Alexei Krukovsky. But in the end, “Brusnik” was significantly “pushed”, and Krukovsky began to actively build up Yekaterinburg, in which he could be assisted by the governor Yevgeny Kuyvashev, who was once the head of Tyumen.
Of course, the Shevchik and Stepanyan families benefited from this alignment. The latter could use the “friendship” against “Cranberry” in their own interests: for example, ignoring the payment of taxes with impunity. But with the loss of the former administrative influence by Mrs. Shevchik, the tax department “remembered” the debts of the Arsib structures, and then the problems began to grow at an increasing speed. Considering the situation described above, the Stepanyans apparently still have to say goodbye to some of the companies.