Skeletons in the closet: What links Aleksey Golubovich with former owners of Yukos. Part I

Yukos skeletons. What links Aleksey Golubovich with former owners of the oil company. Part I

Russia's refusal to pay $50 billion to former Yukos shareholders will lead to new investigations.

On March 31, the Moscow City Court will consider an appeal, which was filed against the ruling to pay $35 million to former Yukos shareholder Alexey Golubovich by his ex-wife Olga Mirimskaya. Allegedly, she received the money for the sale of Yukos shares 15 years ago, and her ex-husband asked for his share as part of the divorce proceedings that have been ongoing for the last ten years. These are unusual demands as Mirimskaya has never owned shares in the oil company. In addition, Golubovich was not only its shareholder, but also served as the director for strategic planning and corporate finance at OAO NK Yukos and was aware of all information related to the financial dealings of the oil giant. A journalistic investigation conducted by Pravda.Ru showed that Alexey Golubovich likely still works in close collaboration with other ex-owners of Yukos.

Alexey Golubovich, a former shareholder of Yukos oil company, and Olga Mirimskaya, the chairwoman of the Board of Directors of BKF Bank, divorced in 2012, but the litigation over the division of their marital property continues to this day. Olga Mirimskaya is the founder of the Russian Product Company. She is also President of BKF Bank. Mirimskaya is charged with giving a bribe — two vehicles worth a total of 3.25 million rubles — to Yury Nosov, an investigator at the Moscow Region Department of the Investigative Committee in 2017. He handled the case, in which she appeared as a victim in connection with the kidnapping of her daughter. Nosov and Mirimskaya were arrested in the bribery case. They plead not guilty, claiming that the case has been initiated under false pretences with malicious intent.

"According to the defendant, the case was initiated by Alexey Golubovich, as well as by her former common-law partner Nikolai Smirnov, a co-owner of the Golden Crown payment system, as an act of revenge for the return of her daughter, in order to seize her property," Mirimskaya's lawyer Alexander Chernov said.

This story developed last week when a person named Sergei Sokolov was arrested. Sokolov, who had a previous conviction, was arrested for soliciting a bribe of 33.5 million rubles from Mirimskaya's lawyer Yulia Zhuravleva, who acts as the only representative of the accused in the civil case, in which she is suing her ex-husband.

Witnesses under attack

Olga Mirimskaya's story is intertwined in the case of the oil company, in which her husband worked.

"Mysteriously, two witnesses in the Yukos case started having serious problems with Russian law in 2021 and then in 2022,” the Versiya publication noted. "Tellingly, it was their testimony that served as the basis for Leonid Nevzlin's life sentence,” (Nevzlin, one of the former leaders of the oil company, is hiding in Israel. — Ed.)".

Leonid Nevzlin
Leonid Nevzlin

These witnesses are Olga Mirimskaya herself, who was arrested and sent to a pre-trial detention center on December 17 last year, and the owner of a small joint-stock company AO Yuzhno-Aksyutino, with is registered in Dmitrov, near Moscow. Since 2016, AO Yuzhno-Absyutino has been under the control of the Moscow Regional Tax Service. The Federal Tax Service claims almost 500 million rubles in unpaid taxes, which actually accounts for the company's assets.

Today, "everything looks like a new and powerful interested party has appeared in the case of AO Yuzhno-Aksyutino and Yevgeny Rybin. As a result, it became known that the Dmitrov Investigative Committee initiated a hefty tax evasion case against Rybin. It appears that a new player has emerged in the process to jail one of the witnesses in the Yukos case and skin them to the bone," the Versiya wrote.

During the trial in the Yukos case, Yevgeny Rybin testified that in 1998-1999 he fell victim to two attempted assassinations. Leonid Nevzlin was subsequently charged with organizing those attempts. online publication reported that Olga Mirimskaya testified against Nevzlin at court. She claimed that "Nevzlin suffers from an obsession for persecution." Allegedly, he collected compromising evidence against both the company's employees and other people and subsequently took advantage of it to make the decisions that he needed. When testifying in court, Mirimskaya said that two attempts were made on her life. The victim could only suspect the Yukos security service as perpetrators, which Nevzlin supervised. Yevgeny Rybin also then said that Nevzlin was obsessed with murder.

"This is a man of a maniacal character, an unbalanced personality, capable of anything, a killer in the truest sense of the word. Many people will be in danger until he is jailed,” Rybin said at the trial.

Many spoke about Nevzlin's vindictiveness.

"It was scary to talk to Nevzlin at times,” Olga Kostina, who worked under Nevzlin's direct supervision, told the Izvestia newspaper. He is obsessed with the superpower and super opportunities of special services. His credo: fear is the most effective way to manipulate people." Kostina quit. She went to work at the Moscow mayor's office. "Nevzlin was constantly harassing me, he was trying to find out what I was doing, why I wasn't telling him what was happening in the mayor's office,” Kostina continued. — I would say: "I no longer work for you." But he would say: "No, you're wrong. You always work for me."
In November 1998, a bomb blew up at the door of Kostina's apartment. In addition, it was proved at the trial in Pichugin's first case that it was him, who, on Nevzlin's order, organized the assassination attempt on the former employee.

On August 1, 2008, the Moscow City Court sentenced Leonid Nevzlin to life imprisonment. The verdict was brought down in absentia, the ex-owner of Yukos was on the run. He currently resides in Israel, and his powers in Russia are obviously limited, but not in everything. According to lawyer Alexander Chernov, Mirimskaya's ex-husband Alexei Golubovich could be involved in initiating the case against her.

"Even though they divorced a long time ago, they still share property. Not that long ago, Golubovich filed a lawsuit to share Olga's jewelry items that were acquired during their marriage,” Chernov said.

The defense lawyer added that on December 16, during the course of investigative actions taken as part of the bribery case, investigators seized all of her client's jewelry items without justification.

"Currently, Smirnov's and Golubovich's lawyers appear in various civil and criminal cases against Mirimskaya. Apparently, they have combined their efforts," the lawyer concluded.
The jewelry items that were seized from Mirimskaya in December as part of the bribery case in Moscow, now appear in a divorce case in London. This is an amazing coincidence that is impossible to believe. The "coincidence" occurred in order to obtain the jewelry inventory for a hearing in the High Court of London, where Golubovich hopes to claim a share of Mirimskaya's jewelry.

The editors studied the documents of the trials, including the trials of Mirimskaya and Rybin, and came to conclusion that Olga Mirimskaya's ex-husband could be a possible "partner" of Leonid Nevzlin and other former top managers of Yukos in Russia. We found many other strange coincidences and inconsistencies, the possible beneficiary of which was none other than Alexey Golubovich and Yukos ex-owners.

A unifying thread

Aleksey Golubovich stated on many occasions that he had had nothing to do with the ex-owners of Yukos after 2001. However, the facts prove otherwise.

In December 2016, the Kommersant reported that Aleksey Golubovich was going to build a factory for the production of polyester fiber for the needs of light industry in the Ivanovo region. He is the sole owner of JSC Ivanovo Polyester Complex JSC. Vnesheconombank (VEB) gave the entrepreneur's company a loan worth 20.4 billion rubles.

VEB CEO, Sergei Gorkov, reported to Vladimir Putin in February 2017:

"In December, we approved several projects, such as the Ivanovo Polymer Plant, for example, for he production of technical textiles. There was no such plant in Russia, this is a big investment worth $500 million."

It increases to 30 billion rubles.

In August 2017, economist Nikita Krichevsky suggested on his blog on Ekho of Moscow that part of the VEB loan, which was raised for the construction of the Ivanovo Polyester Complex (IPC) could be absorbed by the structures controlled by Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Михаил Ходорковский
Mikhail Khodorkovsky

"The cost of the IPC construction is going through bizarre changes," MK noted with reference to Krichevsky's publication on Ekho of Moscow. "The amount of the loan provided by VEB has grown from 20.4 to 30 billion rubles in just a couple of months.”

In the spring of 2015, the Governor of the Ivanovo region, Pavel Konkov said in an interview with RIA Novosti that the construction, which was lobbied by Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Viktor Evtukhov, was estimated at 17.7 billion rubles. Noteworthy, Gorkov, the then chairman of VEB, comes from Yukos too.

According to the Vedomosti newspaper, the IPC was bought out by Cypriot company Honson Management Limited, whose ultimate beneficiaries are Sergey Presnyakov (a bit more than 50 percent), Alexei Golubovich (25.1 percent), Alexei Prudnikov (about 15 percent) and Ruslan Kryazhev (about 10 percent). During the 1990s, Kryazhev, like Golubovich, worked within the Yukos structures, the newspaper said. The discrepancy in the data led Krichevsky to assume that Golubovich was the nominee shareholder. According to him, in the Czech Republic, Khodorkovsky is associated with businessman Dushan Novotny, who, as the Komsomolskaya Pravda wrote, "ensured Khodorkovsky's interests in a number of development projects of such companies as Panorama, Unistav Holding and Novodevelop." Czech holding Unimex Group is connected with them through Unistav International. It was Unistav that became the contractor for the construction of the factory in Ivanovo. Strangely enough, the initiators of the project — Alexey Golubovich, VEB and the Ministry of Industry and Trade — did not find Russian construction companies that would be ready to implement a budget of more than 100 million euros.

"The IPC program turned out to be unprecedented in terms of the arrogance of the scheme to withdraw public funds, not somewhere abroad, which unfortunately is common practice, but rather for the benefit of (…) Mikhail Khodorkovsky," Krichevsky stated.

In fact, the construction cost much less than 20 billion rubles. Czech company Unistav estimated the construction of the plant in the Ivanovo region at $140 million, or 8.4 billion rubles. However, after the scandal, the project was scrapped.

One can make another comparison. The capacity of the IPC was declared at 175,000 tons of fiber per year with the project cost of 25-30 billion rubles. After the closure of the Ivanovo project, the government of the Rostov region announced the construction of a similar plant with a capacity of 75,000 tons per year and a cost of only 3 billion rubles. That was 4-5 times cheaper than the IPC project, taking into consideration the capacity and the cost in rubles (it is even cheaper in foreign currency). Was Nikita Krichevsky right that the project was designed to withdraw VEB funds abroad? This appears to be a rhetorical question.

It is worthy of note that not all participants of the scheme with the IPC and Khodorkovsky feel as good as Alexey Golubovich, the manager of the Arbat Capital fund, and Viktor Evtukhov, who still serves as the Official Secretary of the Ministry of Industry and Trade. Former Governor of the Ivanovo region Pavel Konkov was arrested in 2019 and still remains under house arrest as part of the criminal case on corruption offense. This is a whole different story, though.

Buddha Witnesses

One can trace Golubovich's connection not only with Mikhail Khodorkovsky, but also with other former top managers of Yukos. In 2020, it became known that the daughter of Alexey Golubovich, Nataliya, filed a lawsuit at the High Court of London. She accused her estranged father of stealing sculptures worth more than £4 million during a series of overnight visits to her home, The Daily Mail reported.

"Mother-of-two Nataliya Golubovich, 26, claims Alexey Golubovich 'systemically' took a substantial part of a collection of 349 sculptures from her £10-million London house, according to documents filed in the High Court," the British publication reported.

Between 2012 and 2016, he was said to have visited the Hammersmith mansion on several occasions and used suitcases to carry the art pieces away.

"It is understood the art collection includes several statues of Buddha alongside a range of rare pieces from the Far East. It was amassed by Mr Golubovich's ex-wife, Olga Mirimskaya, to furnish the family home in London, according to the court claim. Russian retail tycoon Miss Mirimskaya is said to have bought the artworks from sales in London, Paris, and New York, and had a personal account at auction house Christie's," the British newspaper wrote.

It is not even the lawsuit itself that is curious in this case as this is essentially a family matter. The case is to be heard this year, and it is worth paying attention to the list of witnesses, which Aleksey Golubovich prepared for the upcoming court sitting. There are several Yukos ex-employees among them, including, for example:

  • Yuri Beilin, former vice-president of the oil company, who is on the international wanted list,
  • Nina Gorbonosova, former subordinate of Alexey Golubovich,
  • Svetlana Romanova, auditor of Yukos's Cypriot companies,
  • Gitas Anilionis, the right-hand man of Platon Lebedev, the former head of the Board of Directors of Group MENATEP,
  • Andres Baumgartner, a lawyer who represented Golubovich in all transactions with GML (Group MENATEP Limited), at least in 2003-2009, that is, at a time when Golubovich allegedly had no contacts with former shareholders of Yukos.

It appears that even in the process against his own daughter, Alexey Golubovich could not do without the Yukos "human capital".

Can this confirm that Alexey Golubovich is still in contact with Yukos former shareholders? At least quite recently, the Rossiyskaya Gazeta suggested that Alexey Golubovich, the former director of strategic planning and corporate finance of OAO NK Yukos, could become a defendant in new investigations of criminal cases against the former shareholders and persons associated with them. This relates to their $50 billion lawsuit against Russia pending in The Hague.

It is worth remembering that in 2020, the Court of Appeal in The Hague upheld the 2014 arbitration award, in which the Russian Federation was ordered to pay $50 billion in compensations to three former large shareholders of the Yukos oil company — Yukos Universal, Hulley Enterprises and Veteran Petroleum Ltd. that had filed a lawsuit through GML (Group MENATEP Limited). In November 2021, the Supreme Court overturned the final decision of the appeals court, as well as the court's previous decision. The Supreme Court upheld one of the grounds for the Russian Federation to appeal. The case was submitted to the Amsterdam Court of Appeal for a new decision on this ground. Given this decision in the Netherlands, the knowledge that Golubovich obtained and concealed funds for the sale of shares to former Yukos shareholders or for other reasons could be of particular importance to subsequently dispute their improper claims against Russia. In this case, apparently, it is beneficial for someone to keep Olga Mirimskaya behind the bars so that she does not have a chance to say anything about this case.

Continue reading Part II of the article here.

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Author`s name Andrey Mihayloff