The story of Sergei Polonsky is an example of how a Russian architect in a few years became the owner of the multibillion-dollar construction holding Mirax (Mirax Group), which is building the first seven-star hotel and the tallest skyscraper in Europe in the capital, and in just a few days lost both business and billions of dollars capital, and a good name. This is an example of how a businessman who lived like a rock idol instantly ceased to be an object of admiration and was blamed for all the troubles associated with his business.
Forbes called Polonsky one of the nine most eccentric businessmen in Russia, this did not prevent the developer from entering the list of the richest people in the country with a fortune of $ 1.2 billion.
Of course, the entrepreneur was already known to the business public for his extravagant antics: he smashed a top manager’s phone against the wall, named his son after his company (Mirax), admitted that he spent a day in a coffin, and also that he had sex in his convertible in front of the surprised policemen.
However, Polonsky really deeply engraved himself in the people’s memory when, according to some information, at one of the social events in Cannes, he advised all those who do not have a billion to go to f *** off. This dictum was replicated as an example of the behavior of a billionaire who had become detached from reality and was repeatedly recalled by Polonsky. But, as the builder later lamented, the quote, if it existed, was uttered by him in a narrow circle of friends, and generally did not have that arrogant offensive subtext that was attributed to it.
Polonsky was called a genius from entrepreneurship, but after 2011 his reputation began to plummet. The developer was accused of fraud in the construction of the Zolotaya Milya luxury complex on Ostozhenka. As a result of legal proceedings and an international search, he ended up first in Cambodia, where he lived for more than three years, and then in the Matrosskaya Tishina remand prison.
Sergey Yuryevich Polonsky started his business in 1994 with finishing apartments for sale, for which he brought guest workers from Ukraine. Then, together with entrepreneur Artur Kirilenko, he created the Stroymontazh company, which also dealt with the decoration of residential premises. The success of Stroymontazh began after the construction of a house for Lenenergo.
After 2000 Polonsky moved his Stroymontazh branch to Moscow, and then renamed the company to Mirax Group. By 2011, this company had already built 12.5 million square meters. Polonsky’s triumph was his participation in the construction of the Federation complex in the sensational Moscow business district of Moscow City, one of the skyscrapers of which, prior to the construction of the Lakhta Center in St. Petersburg, was considered the tallest building in Europe.
When the financial crisis hit the development market in 2008, Polonsky was one of the first to recognize the problem and froze all projects, postponing the completion date. As a result of both economic and managerial problems, the entrepreneur closed the Mirax Group. Due to difficulties in obtaining funding, Polonsky refused to launch new projects and focused on completing those already started, renaming his company first to Nazvanie.net LLC, and then to Potok ∞.
Serious problems began for Polonsky after the Mirax Group debt of $ 241 million was bought out by Alfa-Bank from Credit Suisse, which then demanded to pay it and delay penalties as soon as possible. Prior to that, according to Polonsky himself, Mirax had long cooperated with the credit division of Alfa-Bank. Another unit dealing with the purchase of debts, while Polonsky was on a business trip, under the leadership of the head of the bank, Mikhail Fridman, acquired debt at a discount of 76%. Due to the combination of all these factors, Mirax Group was unable to complete the construction of two residential complexes: “Kutuzovskaya Milya” and “Rublevskaya Riviera”.
Polonsky was accused of embezzling funds from equity holders of the Kutuzovskaya Mile, thanks to which he acquired the reputation of a swindler. Initially, the “Kutuzovskaya Milya” facility began to be built in 2001 by the “Federal Center for Social Development” CJSC, but until 2005 the construction did not move. At the request of the Moscow Government, Mirax and Polonsky’s Avanta, an affiliate company, took over the reconstruction of the facility. Sergey Yuryevich’s company was unable to transfer the contract to itself for a number of reasons, so FTSSR remained the customer of the construction. After 2009, when Polonsky had already dealt with Alfa-Bank and took out a loan from Sberbank to complete the Kutuzovskaya Mile, FTSSR decided to unilaterally terminate the investment contract with Mirax, and then initiate legal proceedings against Polonsky’s company.
Polonsky was accused of raising 5.7 billion rubles from equity holders to complete the housing estate, and only 2.5 billion of them invested in the object, allegedly having appropriated the rest of the funds. According to the entrepreneur, the FTSSR used fake documents as evidence. According to the materials of the investigation, in 2007-2008, companies affiliated with Mirax sold apartments in the Kutuzovskaya Mile to equity holders under contracts that violate the law, so that the company could withdraw funds from the project for its own needs.
Thus, Polonsky invested the funds received from the Kutuzovskaya Mile in the restoration of the Kazan railway station (they were plundered) and in the construction of the Federation skyscraper complex in Moscow City. The entrepreneur himself is sure that he did not do anything illegal: the equity holders knew what conditions they agreed to, and his company had the right to use the funds at its discretion, since it received high income from other projects and did not jeopardize investments.
However, the FCSR ceased cooperation with Mirax and decided to independently complete the construction of the Kutuzovskaya Mile. Sharp disputes over the residential complex began in 2011, when employees of the private security company “Vityazi-R” entered the facility, who tried to take control of the construction site in the interests of CJSC “Federal Center for Social Development”. The FTSSR transferred the object in accordance with the order of the Moscow administration, which demanded that the houses be completed as soon as possible and the apartments be handed over to equity holders.
Polonsky came to a construction site, organized a tent camp there and went on a hunger strike to protest the breakdown of the investment contract and the fact that they are trying to blame his company and himself for the long-term construction. The entrepreneur claimed that his company completed 80% of the work on the construction of buildings, but people from the FTSSR began to interfere with it, who wanted to get all the profits from the sale of apartments. On the part of the FTSSR and the Moscow administration, there were complaints that Polonsky, in the middle of the construction of houses, began to make some “improvements” to them, which made the process of registration and transfer of housing to equity holders more complicated.
Polonsky lost the courts with the FCSR and decided to hide from persecution and persecution in Cambodia. He lived there until 2015, until after several scandals in the territory of an Asian country he was extradited to his homeland, where he was put on the wanted list as a defendant in the case of fraud with funds of equity holders of the Kutuzovskaya Mile. Shareholders themselves have already turned to the prosecutor’s office with a demand to investigate how Polonsky’s companies spent the funds received from them. So Polonsky ended up in the Matrosskaya Tishina pre-trial detention center.
According to Sergei Yuryevich, under the investment contract with the FCSR from the Kutuzovskaya Milya project, his company Avanta, which invested in construction and organized the construction of residential premises, should have received 65%, FCSR – 5%, and the city – 30%. However, the general director of the CFSR Peter Ivanov turned out to owe the city about $ 30 million for another project. Termination of the contract with “Avanta” automatically made him the owner of the “Kutuzovskaya Mile”, which was already 50% ready, and the apartments in it were already 30% sold. Polonsky in an interview with Novaya Gazeta said that in 2011 he offered Ivanov to give it 5% immediately, and not upon completion of construction, but he refused.
Polonsky says he took up the Kutuzovskaya Mile project before the passage of Law 214, of which he was accused of violating. Therefore, I did not consider it necessary to observe it. Moreover, so that investors’ funds would not depreciate, he decided to invest them in other projects, which was not a violation of any laws. The entrepreneur is sure that if he had committed illegal actions with the funds of the equity holders of the Kutuzovskaya Mile, he would have been imprisoned immediately, Sberbank would have had no business with him in the Federation towers project, and in order for him to give the construction site to the FTSSR one call. Moreover, Polonsky himself sent requests to the prosecutor’s office to investigate the problems around the Kutuzovskaya Mile. He did not agree to a tripartite agreement with equity holders and the FCSR, considering it unfair, and demanded that his share in the residential complex be registered with the Avanta company.
In the course of all the proceedings, the media played a separate role, which in every way denigrated the image of Polonsky, trying to portray him as a half-insane fraud. The publications relished the details of Polonsky’s life in Cambodia, and his hunger strike at a construction site and an attempt to declare a strict fast in a pre-trial detention center in protest against the lawlessness against him was presented as a subject for irony.
The final courts put an end to the Polonsky case in 2017, although they were full of surprising coincidences and events. The key witness for the prosecution, the head of the CFSR, disappeared, while other witnesses gave testimonies that would rather prove Polonsky’s innocence. The defrauded equity holders did not come to court hearings. Experts have calculated that the funds that Mirax invested in the construction site would have been enough for the CFSR to fulfill its obligations to the equity holders, but it did not. Also, studies have shown that the documents with which the CFSR supported its claims were fake, which Polonsky spoke of back in 2015. Even the business ombudsman of Russia took the side of the entrepreneur.
As a result, on July 12, 2017, despite the fact that the court found Polonsky guilty of embezzling 2.6 billion rubles and even sentenced him to 5 years in prison, the entrepreneur was released from the courtroom, since the statute of limitations for his crimes had expired. And Ivanov is still wanted.
Now Polonsky lives in a town house overlooking Moscow City, and is making plans to build unique business cities. However, there are still no people willing to invest in the name of Polonsky. Former partners, he said, stole Sergei Yuryevich’s business piece by piece. Dmitry Bosov was ready to help restore control over the assets of the former Mirax Group, but this year he died under mysterious circumstances. Fightraids wrote about this suicide and the raider story that followed.
Polonsky plans to contact the prosecutor’s office to find his assets. He continues to insist that he was right and had no malice. But the label of a builder who has defrauded equity holders has firmly stuck to the reputation of a successful developer.