The head of Sberbank was attacked by a number of unfounded accusations that began to pour in from the other side of the ocean. A lawsuit was filed in an American court with accusations against the largest bank in the Russian Federation – Sberbank. The alleged defendant believes that this case has a number of facts that attribute it to fraud. Will Sberbank lose?
The official position of German Gref (head of Sberbank) is that the lawsuit filed is a complete fraud and an act of raiding.
Sberbank has taken a confident and well-grounded position, the obligations under the loan agreement are subject to indisputable performance.
What is the claim?
The amount of the claim is $ 750 million. In the civil case, there is an attempt to “raider seizure” of the oil production company – “Pavlovskgranit”. The claim was filed by a bankrupt entrepreneur in the Russian Federation.
By the way, the profit of Sberbank according to the statements of 2016 was about 500 billion rubles. And the demands of a Russian entrepreneur are equal to the amount that the government wants to receive from the Central Bank as dividends from Sberbank shares. The amount is about 50 billion rubles.
The claims were made in Delaware. The law firm that filed the claim is PPF Management represented by Poimanov and Podgornaya. In their hands were the main stakes in the firm. The defendants in the claim are German Gref, Sberbank, Promsvyazbank, co-owner of NNK Yuri Zhukov, Sberbank Capital, its general director Ashot Khachaturyants, NEO Center and its director Oleg Gref. Both the number of defendants in the case reaches 22 individuals and legal entities who have passed state registration on the territory of Russia.
PPF Management has been charged with conspiracy to raid Pavlovskgranit. The company believes that in 2008 a loan agreement was concluded between Sberbank and the major owner of Pavlovskgranite, Poimanov. The amount of loan funds is just over 5 billion rubles. The purpose of the loan is to acquire 48 percent of the company from Poimanov’s partner Mamedov. A year later, Poimanov did not have the opportunity to deal with the debt obligations, and Sberbank received a proposal to conclude a refinancing agreement at 15 percent per annum, provided that the controlling stake in Pavlovskgranit was sold. However, the businessman did not agree to the terms and in March Sberbank made a retaliatory move to the refusal, demanding a refund of 4.5 billion rubles.
After a while from Zhukov Poimanov received an offer to combine assets together with NOC. When NNK refused, all obligations from Sberbank were transferred to Sberbank Capital. The latter sold them under the hammer. But PPF Management believes that a raider takeover is taking place here, since the buyers are affiliates of Zhukov’s company.
In the text of the statement of claim, there is an indication that since 2010 Poimanov has been a victim of corporate bullying. Administrative cases and 1 criminal case were initiated against him due to charges of premeditated bankruptcy of the Pavlovskgranit company.
It is alleged that Poimanov made several attempts to challenge the loss of Pavlovskgranite in domestic courts, but they were unsuccessful. As a result of the transaction, the rights of claim were transferred to PPF Management, according to the company. For the first time, the hearing will take place on 20.04.
Also in 2011, the Poimanovs made attempts to bankrupt their company, depriving creditors of a possible way to sell property on collateral and return the debt. At that moment, criminal cases were opened in the courts of Voronezh and Moscow under the article for large-scale fraud.
German Gref comments on the situation in such a way that the bank got out of the situation in 2011. The situation is a commonplace fraudulent act. Banking is directly related to the fact that they often have to strictly protect interests in such situations.
Prior to that, Sberbank gave comments on the claim. The bank has information that Poimanov is constantly looking for attempts to avoid prosecution. The bank’s legal advisers take action within the framework of the law.
Promsvyazbank did not stand aside, which is also accused. They were notified of the claim, but were extremely surprised when they saw themselves among the defendant. The stated requirements do not have any justification. A clear abuse can be seen in the fact that claims are filed with the New York City court, which refer to 2011, and in the Russian court for filing claims, the statute of limitations has long expired.
Why an American court?
There are several grounds for litigation in America. Firstly, a similar case has already been considered on the territory of Russia, which was lost by Poimanov. Since the result was not achieved, the plaintiffs went further – to use foreign judicial instruments. This is a direct abuse of the right, according to Pavel Ivchenkov (lawyer at Delovoy Fairvater bureau).
The choice of the States was dictated by the fact that in the case there had already been a cession of rights towards the American company. Therefore, the court is held at the location of this company. It is assumed that the firm in the states bought the rights of claim from Poimanov, and is now trying to get rich on this. This is the opinion of Olga Ponomareva, managing director (a group of legal and auditing companies).
Ponomareva believes that Poimanov’s political goals are not excluded. Through deeds, the entrepreneur is trying to make himself an image of the victim, who is being persecuted by the authorities. This situation can be enlisted in the West, as often happens.
The fact that the claims are filed in America increases the chances of the claimant’s victory. Also, according to Kozlov (Law Office of Fedor Kozlov & Associates), certain US rules make it possible to apply the extraterritorial principle if proceedings are underway on transactions of a foreign nature. Pavlovsk Granite is a large European manufacturer of nonmetallic materials. Therefore, the conflict may be the main change in the dynamics of quotations. According to Kozlov, the chances of the companies are equal in this case.
On the side of the plaintiff, there are signs of affiliation between Sberbank and Atlantika, as well as NEO Center. The latter carried out an examination of the company’s assets. Also, the testimony of the plaintiff that the situation is related to figures who are attributed to the law enforcement agencies of the Russian Federation (investigative bodies, courts, etc.) will also matter. The situation can reach the point that a raider seizure is revealed, which will significantly aggravate the circumstances of the case.
A lawyer for the company from Chicago believes that it is necessary to recognize the actions of Sberbank not contradicting the laws on securities of previous years (1934 and 1933). It was these acts that formed the basis of restrictions on the activities of raiders in the United States.
Other representatives of legal circles do not give Poimanov a chance, unless the political background of the case is revealed.
If the circumstances of the case remain up to date, then Sberbank is in a well-grounded and indisputable position. According to all norms, obligations under the loan agreement must be properly performed. If this does not happen, then sanctions are introduced, including the loss of the property of the pledged property.
The point of Sberbank is very convincing and due to the early consideration of the situation in the Arbitration Court of the Russian Federation, the decision was not in favor of Poimanov. And the opinion of the plaintiff, which was announced in the media, does not seem reliable.
And to involve more than 20 subjects as defendants is a direct dilution of responsibility. And there is no clear direct evidence base. Yes, Sberbank sometimes shows aggression in business and fails because of this, but not in this situation.
The plaintiff’s claims are focused on the fact that Sberbank became the founder of a situation in which it was impossible to objectively fulfill the loan obligations. And in all the actions of a businessman, one can see an attempt to escape from prosecution for non-payment under the contract. As the saying goes, the best defense is offense. Poimanov must understand that it is unlikely that it will be possible to win anything in this situation.
But even if the American court satisfies the claims of Poimanov and PPF Management, there is no need to pay millions every second by the plaintiff from Sberbank. After all, the decision made will need to be brought to legalization on the territory of the Russian Federation by passing through the Arbitration Court. Then it can only be performed, and this is not a minute procedure.
The domestic court may refuse to execute the decision made by the US court if there are good reasons for doing so. And given Poimanov’s past unsuccessful experience in such cases, it will not be difficult to find such grounds.