The Conservative Commercial Bank (KKB), the main WebMoney settlement center, seems to have “married” completely. KKB has been sued more than once for multi-billion dollar illegal money transfers and customer service for the shady gaming business. But now the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation is suing him for the illegal withdrawal of more than 2 billion rubles offshore. The bank clearly had other operations that may raise questions.
“I was born in the USSR”!
As reported on the official website, the Conservative Commercial Bank was established before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990 on the basis of a branch of the Agroprombank of the USSR. In the Astrakhan region, in the village of Krasny Yar, a new financial institution Commercial Bank Kraskombank LLP has appeared. In 1998 – OJSC CB Kraskombank.
The phrase “Conservative Commercial Bank” with the prefix OAO appeared only in 2010. From 2016 until the revocation of the license – JSC “Conservative Commercial Bank”. The main owner of the bank is Andrei Trubitsin, he owns 77.98% of the shares of KKB, another 22% was controlled by his wife Irina Klochkova. Also, Mr. Trubitsin is the owner of the Computing Forces company, which developed software for WebMoney.
And the Central Bank is not a decree for us
According to Izvestia, the first criminal case against KKB was brought to court on November 25, 2022 on the fact of the illegal withdrawal of more than 2.3 billion rubles offshore. This money fell into the account of Northfors Limited (Nortfors Ltd.) in Alfa-Bank. It would seem that such a thing, and large funds are being transferred. But the fact is that at the time of the transfer, KKB no longer had a license for this and sufficient funds.
The transfer was made on February 11, 2022. But on the same February 11, in the morning, the Central Bank already revoked the license from KKB. As RBC reported, the Central Bank suspected the Conservative Commercial Bank of violating the laws “in the field of combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism.” However, one of the leaders of the Moscow branch of KKB managed to make two transactions.
Unidentified persons planned to withdraw $53.8 million from the accounts of a commercial firm offshore by forging the signature of its head. This fact will also be considered in court. According to the first transaction – as a trial ball – 70.4 thousand dollars went to a certain company “Fincom”. Apparently, having made sure that both the signature “works” and the license is still valid, 2.3 billion rubles (30.7 million dollars) went to the account of Northforce Limited.
As Kommersant reported, the investigation was also interested in the fact that at the beginning of 2022, only 577.5 million rubles belonging to WebMoney clients were on accounts opened with KKB. How, with such a balance, could almost 2.5 billion be withdrawn from the bank?
The answer was given by the lawyer of KA Pen & Paper Alena Grishkova. As she reported to Izvestia, Igor Knyazev, deputy manager of the Moscow branch of KKB, transferred $30.7 million from a correspondent account with Raiffeisenbank to a Northforce Limited settlement account with Alfa-Bank in Moscow. On this fact, a criminal case was also initiated under the article “Illegal circulation of means of payment”.
The defendants are the co-owners of the KKB bank, spouses Irina Klochkova (she has 22% of the financial package) and Andrey Trubitsin, who owns 78%. In addition to the WebMoney partner bank, among the defendants are already known to us Northforce Limited and Fincom Tech EOOO. The trial was supposed to start on December 12, but due to “other procedural actions”, the meeting was postponed.
Mani, mani, mani
As we have already reported above, the Computing Forces company, which belongs to Andrey Trubitsin, has developed software for WebMoney. What is known about this service?
In the period of the beginning of the progressive emergence of the “World Wide Web” Internet everywhere in Russia in 1998, an international settlement system and an environment for doing business in the WebMoney Transfer network appeared. There is no information about its owner, except that the system belongs to WM Transfer Ltd (based in Moscow). The management company is a law office from Vilnius (Lithuania) UAB “DEED BALTIC”. In 2010, the development director of the system, Petr Darakhvelidze, said that it was founded by former military men.
The platform allows anyone to create an electronic wallet or virtual card on the service. You can already store virtual money on them and make various financial transactions with them – pay for purchases, replenish your mobile phone account, pay taxes, buy games.
As of February 2022, more than 45 million users are registered in the WebMoney system, of which 40% are Russians. In all countries, the company works on the model of partnership with guarantors, where WebMoney is a payment service, and the guarantor is a bank, a non-bank credit institution.
February 11, 2022 WebMoney stopped working in Russia. The reason was the deprivation by the Central Bank of the license of KKB, which was the financial guarantor.
As for the “guarantor” itself, by January 1, 2021, the bank’s assets reached 20.3 billion rubles, liabilities – 18.79 billion, and own funds – 1.52 billion rubles. As of the same date, loan and equivalent debt amounted to 1.6 billion rubles, with 92.8% of the volume accounted for by interbank loans and deposits. The bank practically did not engage in lending to legal entities and individuals.
“I’m not guilty!..”
If KKB did not publicly argue with the Central Bank on the revocation of the license, then the managers from WebMoney willingly gave out belligerent interviews. In one of them for RBC, they called the claims of the Central Bank “far-fetched”, and that KKB in Russia acted in strict accordance with Russian law and the requirements of the regulator. “The bank has never been involved in servicing the “shadow” gambling business, illegal participants in the financial market,” WebMoney managers added.
RBC also reports that WebMoney considers the actions of the Central Bank as a policy of squeezing out independent participants in the financial and credit market in favor of several or even one. But the company said they would try to find a solution to continue operations in Russia.
And this is how the Central Bank and the Prosecutor General’s Office will allow
And the Central Bank does not like much in the activities of payment services. In particular, carrying out operations for illegal businesses, because it was for these reasons that the license from the Conservative Commercial Bank was revoked. Among the arguments, the Central Bank names a large number of bank cards and electronic wallets, which “do not pay for everyday purchases, utilities and other services, but at the same time, these cards are used to carry out transactions that are unusual in terms of frequency and amount.”
And do not forget that, in addition to the first criminal case, the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation also filed a claim against the bank – and this is a very serious argument. Taking into account the facts listed above, it will be very, very problematic to win in court against the Prosecutor General’s Office.
The course of the trial is still unknown. As for the court itself, another fact is also interesting. Offshore business “Northforce Limited” filed a lawsuit against the Moscow Alfa-Bank. A strange move, given that the withdrawn 2.5 billion rubles for Northforce Limited went to Alfa-Bank. Or were they blocked at the request of the Sledkom? So the phrase asks for the voice of Anatoly Papanov: “They will send you, but don’t steal!