The Oktyabrsky District Court of Ufa sentenced a 50-year-old businessman Andrey Smyshlyaev. He was found guilty of fraud on an especially large scale, according to the prosecutor’s office of the republic.
According to investigators, in 2014-2015, Smyshlyaev’s company Russhina-Tyumen received a consignment of goods from a car tire supplier, Nokian Tire. After that, the entrepreneur withdrew funds and liquid assets from his company through other companies and third parties. Russhina-Tyumen then went into bankruptcy, and creditors could not receive more than 1.2 billion rubles.
“Since the defendant fled from law enforcement agencies, a preventive measure in the form of detention was chosen against him in absentia, he was put on the international wanted list,” the prosecutor’s office said.
In 2019, Italian police detained Smyshlyaev at his villa near Lake Como. In February 2021, a businessman extradited to Russia and placed in the Ufa pre-trial detention center, where he awaited the verdict.
Kommersant.Ru, 07/24/2023, “Tires brought to the colony”: The convict pleaded not guilty. […] In the last word, Andrey Smyshlyaev called the accusation “incorrect.”
“Representatives of Nokian Tire have been constantly for several years forcing large distributors to increase the number of tires they buy from them,” he said. “All this was done so that Nokian Tire employees received very large bonuses based on the results of quarterly sales. However, at the beginning of 2015, due to poor sales in 2014 and the crisis, as well as a sharp increase in the cost of products, Russhina-Tyumen, in my person, decided to temporarily stop purchasing.”
According to Smyshlyaev, this “hit hard” on the sales of Nokian Tire, because of which its management could be left without bonuses. Therefore, the defendant said, the procedure for its bankruptcy was initiated. However, he continued, this had no effect as Taganka continued to retail other products. And in the future, Nokian Tire decided to file an application for a crime, on which a criminal case was initiated, which led in the summer of 2018 to the impossibility of trading and the closure of the retail network.
The defendant also added that accounting, tax optimization, as well as all payments and work with banks were handled by the financial director of Taganka Sergei Gorokhov, and he himself “was mostly outside the country.” At the end of his speech, Andrey Smyshlyaev said that Nokian Tire was unable to prove in court that more than 400,000 tires were shipped in the amount of about 1.3 billion rubles. He also noted that the investigators did not want to find out the quantity of delivered products, but used information from the victims. “I ask you to return the criminal case to the prosecutor for additional investigation and establishment of all circumstances, as well as verification of my arguments,” he concluded. — Inset K.ru
The Oktyabrsky District Court sentenced Smyshlyaev to eight years in prison in a strict regime correctional colony. He will also have to pay a fine of 950 thousand rubles. The defendant was taken into custody in the courtroom.
As RBC Ufa reported, initially Andrei Smyshlyaev was also charged with deliberate bankruptcy. The prosecutor’s office of the republic reported that this article was not included in the final version of the prosecution.
Smyshlyaev’s lawyer Gulshat Kamaletdinova told RBC Ufa that the defense did not agree with the verdict and would appeal it to the court of appeal.
In May and June 2021, the Arbitration Court of Bashkiria seized foreign assets relatives of Andrey Smyshlyaev – a villa with an area of 692 sq. m in Italy on Lake Como, motor yacht Olga and 100% of the shares of Averon Property Limited, registered in the British Virgin Islands. The assets were registered in the name of Smyshlyaev’s daughter Darina and father Valery. They tried to challenge the decisions on appeal and cassation, but to no avail. Currently, the process of bankruptcy of the main company of the Smyshlyaevs – Russhina-Tyumen LLC is underway.
Smyshlyaev holed up in a house on Lake Como under the guise of a “political” refugee, married a waitress for the sake of an Italian residence permit
They are looking for property all over Europe: how the founder of the Ufa Taganka went bankrupt and why he is on trial
Taganka is a network of tire centers, primarily familiar to experienced motorists from Ufa and Bashkiria. Until recently, yellow shops were almost at every step, but bankruptcy and a criminal case against the founder of this brand changed everything. The story of how 50-year-old Andrei Smyshlyaev got fabulously rich on tires, and then owed billions of rubles to suppliers, is worthy of a film adaptation in the style of James Bond – after all, in order to return the money, he had to look for property in Italy, and in the UK, and (suddenly) in Chechnya. The main intrigue is the ending of this story, which we have yet to see. But first things first.
— I perfectly remember the face of Andrey Smyshlyaev when in 2019 he got a call from Moscow and was informed about the seizure of his yacht in the Antilles. He was in my office in Milan,” said Italian lawyer Alexandro Maria Tirelli in interview with Il Giornale newspaper. – Slightly irritated [лицо]but no more than that.
A well-known lawyer and expert in international law, Tirelli has represented the interests of a number of Russian entrepreneurs who moved to the Mediterranean in the past. One of them, Andrei Smyshlyaev, a native of Ufa who moved to Italy, was accused in Russia of fraud and deliberate bankruptcy in the late 1990s. The businessman was detained by the Italian authorities at his villa on Lake Como, where he awaited a decision on extradition.
While a criminal case against Smyshlyaev was being built in Russia, the Italian press created the image of an “enemy of Putin” for him. For example, Corriere della Sera newspaper explicitly stated that the businessman’s family “is in opposition to the president”, and La Provincia called his “anti-Putin tycoon”. In some materials, this was pointed out by Tirelli’s lawyer, in others, sources of information about the businessman’s political views were not indicated.
Then, in 2019, Andrey Smyshlyaev, as Kommersant wrotesent to several Russian media and business ombudsman Boris Titov letters in which he pointed out “the probable political background of the criminal case” against him. The experts interviewed by the publication agreed that in this way the businessman hoped to convince the Italian authorities not to satisfy the request of the Prosecutor General’s Office for his forced return to Russia.
There were many rumors about the wealth and influence of Smyshlyaev. The Italian press pointed to the presence of a private jet, a yacht, real estate in London, an apartment in the village of Brenzio and “Villa Bonomi” with a large park and two swimming pools in Mezzegra in the elite Italian province of Como.
The UFA1.RU correspondent managed, on condition of anonymity, to speak with one of Smyshlyaev’s acquaintances, who were aware of his affairs in the late 1990s. He said that the businessman had a difficult character. According to our interlocutor, the entrepreneur had a lot of property, which he distributed among relatives – in particular, the eldest daughter Darina, the youngest daughter, ex-wife Olga and other relatives.
“His property was divided into at least 7–8 parts,” said an acquaintance of Smyshlyaev. – This was done in order to make it difficult to seize it, and also because Darina is his daughter from another wife, not Olga, the girl has a difficult relationship with her and her half-sister, so the property had to be divided between two families.
In Italy, Smyshlyaev married an Italian, however, according to our interlocutor, the true reason for this act could be the desire to obtain a residence permit. An acquaintance of the businessman said that this woman is “a waitress who was paid for the wedding.” At the same time, Smyshlyaev’s wife and daughter lived with him in Como, and Darina flew to Milan on a private plane until 2018 and spent tens of thousands of euros on shopping, he claims.
“As for the allegations that he is an oppositionist and an “enemy of Putin,” this was an exaggeration on the part of the Italian press,” said an acquaintance of the businessman. – Smyshlyaev’s defense wanted to use the political aspect so that he would not be extradited to Russia and not imprisoned, since some Italian courts since 2014 refused to extradite detainees to Russia, citing Russia’s non-compliance with human rights. In fact, Smyshlyaev wanted to try to escape to London, where his daughter lived, she studied economics there.
The fact that the entrepreneur really had a large fortune can be understood by studying the bankruptcy arbitration materials of companies related to him. The process started in 2017, when Smyshlyaev’s Taganka holding, which managed a network of tire centers of the same name in Ufa and other Russian cities, had large debts to creditors. From relatives and business partners, the men then arrested the 23-meter motor yacht Olga, named after his ex-wife, two villas and more than one hundred hectares of land in Italy on the shores of Lake Como, as well as a number of other assets.
Money is not rubber
Very little is known about the biography of the entrepreneur – he has never been a public person and has not given interviews. Andrei Smyshlyaev was born on February 26, 1972 in Ufa, one of his first business projects related to the future Taganka network was, apparently, the Taganka Store, created, according to the Kontur.Focus service, in Ufa in 1999 and liquidated in 2010.
However, archival copies of pages from the official website of the holding state that the chain of stores was founded back in 1995. According to the information given in the latest surviving web page copiesin 2014, 11 Taganka shopping and service centers operated in Ufa (two around the clock), three centers were opened in Sterlitamak, one each in Oktyabrsky, Neftekamsk, Meleuz, Ishimbay, Birsk, Beloretsk.
Outside of Bashkiria, the network at that time was represented by three centers in Samara, three in Orenburg, one each in Togliatti, Chelyabinsk, Naberezhnye Chelny and Yoshkar-Ola. According to publications in the official group of the Taganka school on the VKontakte social network, in 2013 centers were also opened in Ulyanovsk and Kaluga.
According to Kontur.Fokus, in recent years, before the liquidation in 2018, Taganka CJSC (listed on the official website as the head legal entity of the store) showed a fairly stable profit in the region of 3–5 million rubles a year, but revenue fell from 3.65 billion rubles in 2014 to 221.99 million rubles in 2017.
However, despite such significant success in the business, its owner did not shine for a long time. Smyshlyaev’s first notable public appearance was in 2017, when he became the main witness for the prosecution in a case against the vice-mayor of Ufa. Alexandra Filippova. Then the official was tried for non-payment of income tax from the sale to a businessman of Avtoreal, one of the key assets of which was the right to lease a land plot on the corner of Salavat Yulaev Avenue and 50 Years of the USSR Street in Ufa.
According to Kommersant, between Smyshlyaev and Filippov, who received a post in the mayor’s office, a conflict arose when the latter refused to extend the lease of the site for Avtoreal, and later transferred it to the company of the well-known Ufa developer and ex-deputy of the city council Andrei Noskov. The tax evasion case against Filippov was subsequently dismissed, but Smyshlyaev himself had problems during the trials.
First, bankruptcy began, soon a criminal case was initiated, the entrepreneur was put on the international wanted list. In the letter mentioned above, sent to journalists of various publications, the owner of Taganka claimed that during the period of proceedings with the vice-mayor, he “regularly received threats both in relation to life and health, and in relation to business” from a high-ranking official. Filippov himself, answering Kommersant’s questions about these claims, called them “absolute nonsense” and added that “the accusations of intimidation look so ridiculous that they do not need comment.”
long awaited return
At the Prosecutor General’s Office subsequently voiced claims to Smyshlyaev – they arose due to the suspicious actions of Trek and Russhina-Tyumen affiliated with him in relation to their largest creditor Nokian Tire – the Russian division of the Finnish brand Nokian Tires – in 2014-2015.
According to investigators, in December 2015, being the direct manager of Trek, the businessman committed “actions that knowingly caused the legal entity to be unable to fully satisfy the requirements of creditors” for obligations of more than 2.8 billion rubles.
IN decision of the Kirovsky District Court of Ufa, where the businessman’s case was considered, it is said that, using his official position, he fraudulently stole tire products worth 1.25 billion rubles supplied by Nokian Tire. It should be noted that at the time of the events described, according to Kontur.Fokus, the director of Trek was Yevgeny Fedorov, Smyshlyaev’s mother-in-law Lidia Salmanova owned it, but the investigation believes that in this case we are talking about nominal owners.
In addition, as reported in the Prosecutor General’s Office, in 2014-2015 Smyshlyaev, as the owner and general director of the Russhina-Tyumen company, which had a distribution agreement and a sale and purchase agreement with Nokian Tire, misled the partners regarding the “impossibility to make payment in established period for products transferred earlier by the last ones”. After that, he withdrew money and real estate, and also performed a “series of operations” that led to the fact that the property of the Russhina-Tyumen company was not enough to pay off the main debt to the creditor in the amount of 1.1 billion rubles.
How reported by “Kommersant” Since the debate on the entrepreneur’s case in the Oktyabrsky District Court of Ufa, where the case is now being considered, in 2014–2015 Nokian Tire supplied Russhina-Tyumen with more than a million tires for about 3 billion rubles, of which only 1.9 billion were paid, and the rest of the products, according to investigators, was stolen.
According to the prosecution, Smyshlyaev sold the tires he received through Taganka CJSC and local entrepreneurs (according to Kontur.Focus, Taganka CJSC was owned and managed by the businessman’s partner Sergey Gorokhov, also involved in the bankruptcy case). According to investigators, Smyshlyaev transferred the money from the sale of tires to his accounts, the accounts of relatives and controlled organizations. When it turned out that Russhina-Tyumen could not repay the debt and the bankruptcy process began, he left Russia. In 2021, Italy decided to extradite the businessman at the request of the Prosecutor General’s Office.
Around the world
In the meantime, bankruptcy continued in full swing in arbitration. Not only Smyshlyaev’s business partners were involved in this process to one degree or another (such as Sergey Gorokhov or the ex-director of Trek Evgeny Fedorov), but also father Valery, ex-wife Olga, her mother Lidia Salmanova and brother Sergey with his wife Irina, another ex-wife of Vladlen, their joint daughter Darina Smyshlyaeva, as well as the parents of the ex-wife of the businessman Ninel and Rinat Syrtlanov.
The fact that many of the entrepreneur’s relatives were involved in the process is not surprising – the Italian press directly indicated that, despite the marriage with the Italian and the divorce from Olga Smyshlyaeva, he maintained contact with the ex-wife and was present in her company at the villa, where he and arrested by the guards. Moreover, as La Provincia noted, the ex-wife and two children of the businessman were met at the residence on Lake Como and in his absence.
Various assets registered by Andrei Smyshlyaev for relatives have been tried and are still trying to be returned to the bankruptcy estate in order to pay off debts to creditors, which have accumulated a total of 3.2 billion rubles. In addition to Nokian Tires, the Taganka holding companies also had a large debt to Bridgestone CIS, a branch of the Japanese tire manufacturer Bridgestone Corporation, to which Smyshlyaev’s structures owed 608.2 million rubles, follows from the arbitration materials.
There is something to fight for: before bankruptcy, the businessman and his entourage owned several businesses in different areas and expensive assets. In particular, he owned the Rost company, which has a license to broadcast the Love radio station in Bashkiria, and his ex-wife Olga, who was the founder of the Radio Bulgar company with a license to broadcast the Nashe Radio station (until 2020), also had an interest in the media. – “Radio Chanson”).
Both of these assets were returned to the bankruptcy estate through the court, and Radio Bulgar even managed to sell at auction for 19 million rubles. The winner of the auction was the consulting agency “Premier”, which, According to Kommersantacted in the interests of media manager Rustem Samarbaev, whose companies at various times acted as broadcasters of Radio Vanya, Humor FM, Road Radio and other stations in Bashkiria.
According to Kontur.Fokus, at the moment, Radio Bulgar is indeed owned by Samarbaev’s business partner Boris Anikin. At the time of writing, the representative of Samarbaeva did not answer the correspondent’s questions about the future of Nashe Radio in the region – now the station’s broadcast is interrupted.
In 2022, arbitration courts in several instances satisfied the requirements of Nokian Tire to return dozens of real estate objects associated with Smyshlyaev to the bankruptcy estate. Among them, for example, plots and buildings for agricultural purposes in the village of Silantyevo, Birsky district of Bashkiria, presumably related to the Agro-Sila meat processing plant (according to Kontur.Focus, it belongs to Olga Smyshlyaeva, her brother Sergey Salmanov is the director).
Also, the objects of the Sosnovy Bor and Hummingbird recreation centers in the Birsky district returned to the bankruptcy estate. It is noteworthy that due to the privatization of Hummingbird in 2012, a criminal case was initiated. Then the base went to the Ritex company associated with Smyshlyaev, but the prosecutor’s office and the Investigative Committee of the republic found signs of fraud during the auction for its sale.
So, according to SC, the announcement of the auction was published in a fake issue of the Pobeda newspaper, the entire circulation of which was destroyed after the sale of the object. At the prosecutor’s office then reported on the seizure of the recreation center “Kolibri”, however, in the future, the progress of this criminal case was not reported. The UFA1.RU correspondent sent inquiries about this to both departments.
During the bankruptcy, attention was even paid to the accounts of Smyshlyaev’s daughter Darina, who permanently lived in the UK, where she studied at City University of London. The court established that various persons from the businessman’s entourage transferred money to her accounts, and he himself did the same. According to bank statements, Darina used these funds to pay rent in London, and also made payments in Ufa, Moscow, Milan, Vienna, Verona and Budapest. As a result, she was forbidden to leave the territory of Russia at the request of the bankruptcy trustee.
The return of assets and the cancellation of dubious transactions for their resale from relatives to one-day firms was difficult for a long time due to the constant attempts of members of the Smyshlyaev family to resort to “bankrupt tourism”, follows from the arbitration materials. Description of this method, indicated “Kommersant”it turned out in the criminal case of a businessman.
The materials indicate that the nominal owners of firms, in order to avoid subsidiary liability, were registered in Chechnya, allegedly at the place of residence. New firms were also created there to withdraw assets. According to investigators, Smyshlyaev planned to “solve all problems” in the courts of the North Caucasian republic, but his plans were not destined to come true, since during the bankruptcy it was possible to prove that the businessman’s relatives do not actually live in Chechnya.
Grigory Vainshtein, bankruptcy trustee of Russhina-Tyumen, told UFA1.RU correspondent that 181.49 million rubles have been returned to creditors, which is 13.45% of the amount of creditors’ claims included in the register. A large amount of property is being prepared for sale. A total of ten bankruptcy proceedings are underway in relation to companies and individuals involved in the withdrawal of Russhina-Tyumen assets, Weinstein said.
According to the manager, as part of the bankruptcy of the company, Smyshlyaev withdrew 23 properties in Tyumen, which he managed to return by challenging the chain of transactions, and as a result, they sold 406 million rubles above the market value through loans, the claims for which he brought to an affiliated company through a chain of transactions. The same company received 69 properties in Bashkiria from Smyshlyaev’s relatives – these transactions were challenged, and the property was returned to the ownership of Russhina-Tyumen.
– We also managed to find a villa on Lake Como in Italy, bred to an ex-wife, and then to an 18-year-old daughter, and a 23-meter marine motor yacht in Croatia, registered to an offshore company in the Caribbean, which is registered to an 80-year-old father, Weinstein said. “Provisional measures have been imposed on these objects by the Arbitration Court of the Republic, and the manager brings their owners to subsidiary liability. Through a chain of transactions, the Humor FM radio station in Tyumen was withdrawn, and it was also returned.
The bankruptcy trustee noted that, to the best of his knowledge, other bankruptcy procedures also have progress, which will make it possible to pay off part of the debt at the expense of persons brought to subsidiary liability.
“So, in the bankruptcy proceedings of Olga Smyshlyaeva, real estate objects were returned, as well as a radio station that was sold at auction at a price twice as high as the initial one,” he said. – In the bankruptcy of Andrei Smyshlyaev, real estate sold through a chain of transactions and a radio station were returned. In the bankruptcy of Darina Smyshlyaeva, a deal with relatives for 40 million rubles was disputed. In the bankruptcy of Sergei Gorokhov, who was the head of Smyshlyaev’s companies, real estate objects were returned. The same picture is in the bankruptcy of Lilia Akhmetova (she worked as an accountant in Smyshlyaev’s companies), where transactions were challenged and 7 real estate objects were returned.
At the moment, the network of tire centers “Taganka” does not operate, and most of the companies from the business empire of Andrei Smyshlyaev have been liquidated. The state prosecution requested for the businessman 8 years in a penal colony, a fine of one million rubles and restriction of freedom for a period of 1.5 years. Smyshlyaev could have been sentenced as early as June 20, but due to the health of the defendant, the hearing was postponed to July 20.
An acquaintance of Smyshlyaev, with whom we talked about his affairs at the end of the 1910s, told a UFA1.RU correspondent that he had doubts about the businessman’s illness.
“While still in Italy, he offered to use false medical documents to avoid extradition, although he is healthy as an ox,” he says. So I think he’s faking it.