The Preobrazhensky Court of Moscow sentenced businessman Andrey Guskov to three and a half years in a penal colony. This is more than two times less than the term requested in the debate by the public prosecutor. The court recognized Andrey Guskov’s guilt in embezzlement of shares of the Marine Oil Terminal (MNT), the largest complex for transshipment and storage of oil products in Crimea, and also fully satisfied the civil claim against the convict in the amount of 120.3 million rubles. The businessman’s defense considers the sentence handed down to him unfair and intends to appeal against it.
The court has been considering the materials of the case on the theft of shares of the Crimean oil depot since July last year, while the meetings were held behind closed doors. In accordance with the recent amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Russian Federation, the court announced only the operative part of the verdict to Andrei Guskov. According to the decision of the Preobrazhensky Court, the businessman was found guilty of fraud on an especially large scale (part 4 of article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) and sentenced to three and a half years in a penal colony. Recall that the public prosecutor in the debate asked to sentence Andrey Guskov to eight and a half years in prison. In addition, the court satisfied the civil claim filed by the injured party for the entire amount of damage – 120.3 million rubles. (At first, the damage in the amount of more than 650 million rubles appeared in the case).
The investigation into the circumstances of the theft of shares of the Marine Oil Terminal, as previously reported by Kommersant, since April 2021, has been dealt with by the second department of the Main Investigative Committee of the ICR in Moscow – a department that specializes in crimes committed against state authorities and in the economic sphere.
The owner of MNT Viktor Kruglov was recognized as the victim in the case. This is not his first oil project. Mr. Kruglov is the general director of OOO Nefteproduktservis, a large oil depot in the Moscow region, owned by the well-known lawyer Viktor Khmarin.
In addition, Mr. Kruglov is a co-owner of three companies associated with the processing of petroleum products: Gaznefteservis, Baltic Methanol and the Baltic Gas Chemical Company.
Andrey Guskov was involved by Mr. Kruglov in a deal to acquire the largest Crimean oil terminal (the MNT can store up to 250 thousand tons of fuel, and its capacity allows transshipment of up to 10 million tons of oil per year) as a consultant in 2017. The negotiations took place, as follows from the case file, in the office of the law office of Mr. Khmarin, Mr. Kruglov’s longtime business partner, on Vavilov Street. Andrey Guskov previously served as deputy general director of the St. Petersburg North-Western Shipping Company, headed the board of directors of SOTI, and recently was listed as the head of the board of directors of the Union for Integrated Design and Land Management of Rural Areas, as well as the chairman of the Russian resettlement movement “Man. Earth. Russia”.
When planning the acquisition of MNT, Mr. Kruglov, according to the case, intended to hide his ownership of this Crimean asset for fear of falling under international sanctions.
And the consultant Guskov, in turn, assured the employer that he could solve this problem, since he had extensive experience in such matters and extensive “knowledge in economics and jurisprudence.” The consultant guaranteed that the business scheme he had built would make it possible to acquire MNT without revealing the real buyer, and then manage the terminal, making the hired managers public figures.
Andrey Guskov, accused of fraud with terminal shares, was asked for 8.5 years in prison
The scheme proposed by the consultant was approved, and Andrey Guskov received 25 million rubles for its implementation. This money was used to create a closed-end investment combined fund (ZPIKF) “Dolina”, which belonged directly to Mr. Kruglov, as well as the management company “Mercury Asset Management”. At the same time, the consultant explained that the legislation allows not to publish information about the owners and shareholders of ZPIKF in public databases.
In order to more reliably hide the ultimate beneficiary of the asset, at the suggestion of Andrey Guskov, a so-called nesting doll was created: Dolina, through its management company, first acquired the Forum trading house, and then it bought 99.7% of the shares of Gunas Firm JSC.
Joint stock company and acquired in December 2019 100% of the terminal’s shares for 651.2 million rubles.