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Maslovsky's casus: sold his own - ended up in prison
One of the largest gold miners in Russia faces up to 10 years behind bars due to a banal commercial transaction.
The founder and, until recently, the general director of Petropavlovsk PLC, Pavel Maslovsky, will remain in jail until the end of May. A large businessman was arrested on charges of embezzlement and embezzlement of a large sum of money. Formally, the reason for the proceedings was an ordinary commercial transaction, but in this story, as it turned out, there are enough pitfalls. On questions to the investigation and "Petropavlovsk" - in the material of EastRussia.
Pavel Maslovsky is suspected of “misappropriation of funds on an especially large scale” - article 160 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, part four, appears in the materials of the criminal case. According to the investigation, the crime happened back in 2018. Then the son of Maslovsky sold the administrative building belonging to the family in Blagoveshchensk. The buyer was Pokrovsky Rudnik JSC, which was and remains one of the main assets of Petropavlovsk PLC - by the way, Maslovsky Sr. was the general director of the company at that time. The deal was checked by an audit company from London, it was recognized as legal, and the property - an office building with a land plot in the very center of the city - acquired new owners. According to official data, the purchase and sale agreement included an amount of about 218 million rubles.
However, at the end of last year it turned out that the business real estate object was allegedly sold at an almost double price - an illegal "addition" to the price of three thousand square meters of offices and land amounted to 95 million rubles, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation. The investigating authorities said that the real cost of the building with the site does not exceed 123 million. On December 25, Pavel Maslovsky was arrested.
BACKGROUND OF THE ARREST
Speaking about the prerequisites for the scandal, it is necessary to look at the beginning of 2020. In February, Petropavlovsk PLC acquired a new shareholder - the Yuzhuralzoloto group of companies, which is controlled by the family of Konstantin Strukov, a deputy of the Legislative Assembly of the Chelyabinsk Region. The share of the new shareholder is now about 24 percent (according to some data, we are talking about 22,37 or 24,39 percent - Ed.). Soon after Strukov's arrival, information appeared that a merger deal was not far off, but Maslovsky then officially denied it.
“… We can talk about something specific when the reserves and financial indicators are clear. First of all, stocks for me, as a manufacturer, and for everyone, for the market. Because if a mining company is without reserves and resources, there is nothing to talk about in essence. <…> In any such transaction, the main question is how long you can maintain your production. Strukov said that he was not ready for this, what JORC should do (JORC methodology - Australian Code of Reporting on Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves. - Ed.). But I never saw it, so far there is no information, ”the businessman said in an interview with the newspaper Interfax.
The first thunderbolt thundered already in the summer - at the annual meeting of the board of directors Maslovsky was deprived of the post of CEO in Petropavlovsk. In addition to him, several top managers were not included in the management team. At the same time, the shareholders of Yuzhuralzolot - the Slevin, Everest and Fortiana Holfings funds - voted for the change of the board of directors. Pavel Maslovsky, remaining in the position of Chief Operating Officer, found himself in the center of a corporate conflict: new shareholders expressed doubts about the efficiency of work and annual indicators of Petropavlovsk, and also offered to conduct an independent examination of the company's transactions for three years. The decisions, the legality and correctness of which were previously recognized by the London firm Deloitte - its experts had been running Petropavlovsk since 2009, and only two years ago, ceded their powers to PricewaterhouseCoopers, another representative of the Big Four audit and consulting corporations with a worldwide reputation ...
Maslovsky was forced to leave Petropavlovsk, and attempts by the head of Pokrovsky Rudnik JSC, Sergei Ermolenko, through the court to prohibit shareholders from re-electing the board of directors, ended in nothing. Then the Ministry of Property Relations of the Amur Region got involved in the situation. Ermolenko himself was accused of trying to interfere with a legal audit. Also, suspicions have leaked into the public space that the general director of Pokrovsky Rudnik is involved in gold smuggling.
The next high-profile incident was the story of the new acting. CEO of Petropavlovsk PLC - the position was taken by Maxim Meshcheryakov. Not all top managers of the company agreed with his appointment. The result was a scandal with an attempt to infiltrate the Moscow office of Petropavlovsk at the end of August: the new leader came to inspect the workers' front, accompanied by strange athletic people who took away the electronic keys from the guards, provoked the office employees into conflict, insulted and threatened them.
The situation was difficult to assess other than a banal power seizure, and it logically received a huge response. At the end of October, Meshcheryakov became a suspect in a criminal case of arbitrariness and moved to another leadership position. And at the end of November it became known that Denis Aleksandrov had been given the post of CEO of Petropavlovsk PLC.
At the end of December, the day before Pavel Maslovsky's arrest, security officials came to the Pokrovsky Rudnik office - the investigation issued a search warrant. Even then, some media began to circulate rumors that the current situation was the peak of the conflict between the founder of the gold mining enterprise and the new shareholder. And at the end of January it became known that the reason was the appeal to the FSB of one of the members of the board of directors of Petropavlovsk - Maxim Kharin, who represents the interests of Yuzhuralzolot and Strukov.
In his statement, Kharin asked law enforcement officers to check one specific transaction involving the ex-CEO of Petropavlovsk PLC for embezzlement and fraud. Pavel Maslovsky was arrested 10 days after this complaint.
SUBJECT OF DISPUTE
The building in question still bears the sign "Petropavlovsk". Four floors at 140/1 Lenin Street - the office of a gold mining enterprise in the Amur Region. This area is the center of Blagoveshchensk, its "red line": a few blocks from here is the regional government, nearby bank offices, legal offices and large hotels. The favorable location, as expected, forms the price threshold for the cost per square meter of commercial real estate: from 100 thousand and more. There is enough real evidence: just go to one of the popular ad sites.
One of the proposals is a premise with a rough finish: 187 square meters are asking for 18,7 million rubles. By the way, the building is located two buildings from the Petropavlovsk office, across the courtyard. A ten-minute walk from this place, on Komsomolskaya Street, offers premises for 110 thousand per square meter. And there are a lot of such proposals, despite the fact that prices are stable: unlike residential real estate, commercial real estate is not so popular, and businessmen more often prefer to rent premises, rather than buy.
The market value of the four-storey office of the Petropavlovsk company, which has become the object of claims by the investigation, is now estimated at about 300 million rubles, excluding the site. According to Roskadastr, 716 square meters of land are now estimated at 4 million 976 thousand 400 rubles and 48 kopecks.
Thus, if the transaction had been drawn up not in 2018, but in February 2021, the purchase and sale agreement would have had a figure much higher than the one that Pokrovsky Rudnik paid - and almost three times higher than the cadastral value, because we are talking about the real market. By the way, the story is the same with residential real estate - the actual price of an apartment will never coincide with the estimated one.
THE AGE OF ALEXANDROV
The new General Director of Petropavlovsk, Denis Aleksandrov, officially took up his duties on December 1, 2020, but he arrived in the Amur Region, where the main capacities of the gold mining enterprise are located, only by mid-January. We must pay tribute to the new manager: he traveled to all subsidiaries, including mines in remote areas of the region.
“The new CEO has already visited the enterprises of the group, got acquainted with the teams, highly appreciating the professionalism of the employees. We are working on a comprehensive analysis of the company's activities, management structure, budget and plans for 2021. All production facilities of Petropavlovsk continue to operate within the current production plans. The implementation of the main investment projects of Petropavlovsk continues - preparation for the launch of the flotation plant at Pioneer and the expansion of the flotation capacities of Malomyr, after the commissioning of which production growth is expected in the coming years, "the Petropavlovsk Management Company told EastRussia.
However, behind the public statements about stability and maximum retention of valuable personnel, to which the new CEO was very generous, some saw a banal goal - a radical reorganization of the enterprise on paper, and in fact, liquidation with the transfer of assets. In the Telegram channel, which is presumably conducted by ordinary employees of Pokrovsky Rudnik JSC, since August 2020, anonymous speculations have appeared about what is actually happening in the company after the cardinal rearrangements at the top. The authors did not ignore the visit of Denis Alexandrov to the Amur region.
“Now Petropavlovsk is Highland Gold 2. All the chiefs of directions presented by Aleksandrov come from there. Petropavlovsk Management Company will be abolished so as not to “deal with a complex legacy”, and all employees, on the basis of employment contracts, will be transferred to Aleksandrov's new office - Atlas Mining. Details about the future management structure, which will obviously be radically rebuilt, are not yet available. Apparently, it will be built by new chiefs, each in his own area, according to his plans and programs. The enterprises of the group are completely deprived of independence - the boards of directors of the mines will be abolished, and their managers will work under the power of attorney from the “high management” of Petropavlovsk PLC. Blagoveshchensk loses the status of a management center and is transferred to the category of a "service office" executing commands from the center. We believe that in the near future we can expect a reduction in administrative workers in the Amur Region ", - summed up the employees of the gold mining enterprise in their Telegram channel.
According to unknown authors, who call themselves “the Internet representation of the labor collective of Pokrovsky Rudnik JSC,” in the near future the new director will be engaged in the so-called clearing, eliminating all possible traces of Pavel Maslovsky in the main and subsidiary structures. It is possible that people who openly supported the founder of the company and those who directly or indirectly defend his interests at the corporate level will also be hit: the example of Sergei Ermolenko is more than indicative.
Meanwhile, at the head office of Petropavlovsk PLC, all inconvenient questions, one way or another related to Maslovsky's person, are rejected. A company representative, commenting on EastRussia personnel changes, limited himself to a streamlined wording.
“The Board of Directors of Petropavlovsk PLC has appointed a new CEO of the company following a thorough recruitment and selection process. Denis Aleksandrov, who previously headed Highland Gold Mining, was selected for this position as a high-class leader with extensive experience in the mining industry, including in Russian gold mining companies. In addition, Denis Aleksandrov has a very good reputation in the investment community, ”said a representative of Petropavlovsk PLC.
In his new position, Mr. Aleksandrov is expected to apply his extensive experience “in improving the operational efficiency and transparency of the companies he heads in accordance with best corporate governance practices, which resulted in record revenues and production growth, and business development contributed to the good all interested parties ".
After the high-profile story with Maxim Meshcheryakov, which turned into the initiation of a criminal case on arbitrariness, such a significant position was obliged to take the most "clean before the law" specialist.
The new CEO will also be assisted in his work by his management team. But one should not write off the "old guard" - specialists whom Maslovsky brought to "Petropavlovsk". Among them is Ulyana Levanova, who has been with the company since 2004. She rose from the position of a lawyer at Pokrovsky Rudnik OJSC to the position of Deputy General Director for Public and Social Issues of Petropavlovsk Management Company. Ms. Levanova was in charge of corporate communications, and with the appointment of Alexandrov, she became the head of the office of a gold mining company in Blagoveshchensk. In fact, Ulyana Sergeevna will most likely continue to protect the corporation's reputation from scandals and create an attractive image for Petropavlovsk, but now as far as possible from the former leader, under whose wing she built a career: she refused to comment on the possible damage to the company's reputation after Maslovsky's arrest ...
For the Amur Region, the personality of Pavel Maslovsky is associated not only with gold mining. The name of the entrepreneur who, at the end of the crisis 90s, built his first mine from scratch in the taiga, and then developed it to the level of the leader of the Far East mining of precious metals, is a brand. These are thousands of jobs for permanent specialists and shift workers, scientific research, a geological exploration network, own educational areas and employment of students.
From the hands of Maslovsky, the gold mining enterprise became the founder of the Petropavlovsk fund of the same name. It has been operating since 2010 and is engaged in targeted support of socially oriented projects and programs for the development of cultural, economic and scientific potential in the Far East. Already in 2012, the fund was included in the top 10 rating of corporate philanthropy in Russia. In 2015, thanks to the support of Petropavlovsk, the Albazin archaeological expedition received a grant from the Russian Geographical Society for research - the certificate was presented to the program manager personally by President Vladimir Putin. At the end of 2019, Petropavlovsk allocated 61,1 million rubles of voluntary contributions and donations for targeted financing of the fund under six strategic programs, and about 50 thousand Far Easterners took part in key projects.
The gold mining business behind Maslovsky's shoulders experienced crises, but coped with them, and the founder led his business forward for thirty years. And against the background of all the achievements and contributions to public life, which the businessman managed to note, his arrest looks at least incomprehensible.
“It is strange to judge a person for buying or selling something at the market price,” the businessman's lawyer Andrei Lyakhov explained in an interview with RBC.
By the decision of the Tverskoy court, Pavel Maslovsky will remain under arrest until May 23. EastRussia will follow the further development of this story.