On July 29, the Central District Court of Togliatti upheld a motion brought by investigation and arrested 100% of shares of management company JSC Corporation Togliattiazot owned by affiliates of Sergei Makhlai - the co-owner and chairman of the board of directors of JSC Togliattiazot, a large producer of ammonia and carbamide.
The court found the arguments of the investigation substantiated. Investigators claimed that the property was used to continue the funding of an international organized criminal group that was suspected of embezzling more than $1 billion in revenue of Togliattiazot.
In December 2012, the Investigative Committee opened a criminal case into the fact of withdrawal of hundreds of millions of dollars of unaccounted income of the company to foreign accounts. Togliattiazot was selling its products at underestimated prices to trader NitrochemDistribution AG, a 100% subsidiary of Ameropa AG owned by Andreas Zivy, who also owns 12% of shares of Togliattiazot. The trader, in turn, was selling the products of Togliattiazot worldwide at market prices. In January 2013, then CEO of Togliattiazot, Evgeny Korolev, left for London "for a business trip," as people at the factory said. He has not returned from the trip ever since he left. The CEO was charged with fraud that caused the company the damage worth $550 million. Evgeny Korolev was arrested in absentia and is currently wanted internationally. In late 2014, a court arrested in absentia other directors of Togliattiazot as well: Chairman of the Board of Directors Sergei Makhlai, co-owner Vladimir Makhlai, the head of Ameropa Andreas Zivy and the head of Nitrochem, Beat Ruprecht. Currently, all five defendants are internationally wanted through Interpol.
In addition to the shares of the management company of Togliattiazot, custody was imposed on the shares of JSC Transammiak, owned by six Cyprus-based offshore companies. JSC Transammiak controls the Togliatti-Odessa pipeline, the main export channel for Togliattiazot products. The ammonia pipeline is a unique, almost 2,500 kilometers long engineering construction. Unfortunately, similarly to the equipment of Togliattiazot, the pipeline has never undergone capital repairs since the time of its construction in the Soviet period. Not that long ago, the ammonia pipeline appeared in the news again, when it ruptured in the Ternovsky district of the Voronezh region, entailing the evacuation of nearly 800 local residents. One of them was hospitalized with toxic burns of the lungs. Officially, five tons of ammonia polluted the environment as a result of the rupture. This is a very significant amount given that ammonia is a highly toxic substance. Environmentalists believe that the amount of ammonia that was released as a result of the rupture was a lot larger. The damage to agriculture, let alone natural environment, has exceeded 10 million rubles. However, Transammiak CEO Andrei Ivanov gave a puzzling interview shortly after the accident. Instead of apologizing and promising compensations to those who suffered health and property damage in the accident, he started boasting of coordinated actions of employees and the advanced warning system that supposedly made it possible to avoid casualties. The remarks in the interview contradicted to what eyewitnesses said. According to them, there was no warning given at all, and it was only thanks to quick actions and determination of the local authorities that allowed to avoid casualties in the accident.
Noteworthy, in February 2013, the Komsomolsk Court of Togliatti arrested Togliattiazot shares owned by the Makhlais and their Swiss partners as part of the investigation of the fraud case. In 2015, the entire complex of property of Togliattiazot was arrested, whereas on July 22, the Moscow City Court dismissed the lawyers' appeal against the arrest of the property.
On May 7 of this year, the Central District Court of Togliatti arrested shares of Sergei Makhlai's JSCB Togliattikhimbank. In the first quarter of 2015, the bank reported an unprecedented increase in accounts receivable by 43.1% - to 10.7 billion rubles. According to experts, this directly indicated the withdrawal of assets from Togliattiazot. In addition, an informed source in the bank mentioned the events from mid-December of last year, when shareholders of the bank had to cash out about $30 million. The amount included both shareholders' money and Togliattikhimbank's own funds. The money should have been directed to terminate criminal proceedings against majority shareholders of Togliattiazot.
The arrest of the property of majority shareholders of Togliattiazot says that the criminal investigation of financial crimes at the strategically important company is nearing completion. The case is to be submitted to court soon to be reviewed on the merits.
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