Nearly 20 years ago the Basmanny District Court of Moscow held the sanction with regard to arrest of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the richest man in Russia in 2003. It’s at that time that began the long “romance” of the former oligarch with Russian Themis, which continues up to the present day. A number of dark taints are being found in their complex relations.
“REASONABLE TERM” OF 20 YEARS
So, Yuri Konstantinovich Saprykin, a resident of the town Tula near Moscow (born 1955, taxpayer identification number INN 710700070457) has been at law with Khodorkovsky from… 2004, trying to receive compensation of damage for the intentional bankruptcy of the bank Menatep (it was the first business-project of the swindlers who had brought to heel the oil company Yukos).
If the Meshchansky District Court, without ceremonies, put behind bars the billionaire Khodorkovsky for nine years as early as in the spring of 2005, the court itself has been dismissive until now of the shareholder from Tula, as of a troublesome fly.
- Why, all the same, courts have been stubbornly ignoring your lawsuit against Khodorkovsky? – I asked Saprykin who during the litigation has turned from an energetic businessman into a pensioner weary of the legal lawsuit.
- I didn’t see a reasonable answer, only muddy run-around kindergarten replies, shallow pretenses beside the point and beside the subject. I am not satisfied with that, and I continue, - he said. - Perhaps, judges even understand my rightness, but they have nothing to reply to my claims and arguments. They have been dragging it out hoping that I will be sick and tired of that, that I will spit upon all that, or another revolution will happen. So all this leads to delaying of the lawsuit.
Screenshots of the digital card-index of the Moscow City Court: the catalogue of Y.K. Saprykin’s legal claims (2011 – 2022)
On the whole, in the electronic card-index of the Moscow City Court there are 18 legal lawsuits filed from 2011 to 2022 on the claims of Yuri Saprykin against Khodorkovsky personally, against former top-managers of Yukos as well as against two state agencies – the Finance Ministry of the Russian Federation and against the Meshchansky District Court of Moscow (The information of the previous claims filed from 2004 to 2010, it not in public domain). The main part of Saprykins’ claims are based on Article 130 of the Code of Administrative Jurisdiction “On awarding compensation for not respecting the right to civil jurisdiction within a reasonable time period”.
For example, in April 2017, the Moscow City Court issued Ruling No 4ra5/5-5110/2017 with regard to, as in was pointed out in the document, cassation appeal of Saprykin Y.K” that went to the “cassation instance” of the Moscow City Court on the Ruling of the Moscow City Court Judge, as well as on “the appeal decision of the Judicial Board of the appeal instance of the Moscow City Court. Judging only from the abundance of the enumerated claims, cassation instances and appeal decisions one can imagine how deep Saprykin was forced to immerse into the realm of court wiggery.
And what’s the reason of this longstanding commotion? As it was pointed out in the Ruling of the Moscow City Court “… from 2004 until present time the Meshchansky District Court has been examining the case on the claim of Saprykin Y.K against Lebedev P.L., Khodorkovsky M.B. Stressing the fact that such prolonged examining of the civil case violates the lawful rights and interests of Saprykin Y.K., and it asked to recognize the right of a fair consideration of the case; to legitimize the stated claims and collect from the defendants a compensation for material and moral damage, to collect from the Meshchansky District Court of Moscow compensation for violating the right of proceedings within a reasonable time period…”
The Ruling of the Moscow City Court with regard to the claim of Saprykin Y.K.
This time the Court dismissed Saprykin’s claim, having wrapped up its rejection in a sticky foil of murky legal terms.: “…Data are not provided on the court rulings adopted on this case (definitions, decisions, appeal definitions, dates of their adoption) and so on and so forth. In the last lines of this court’s document we read: “”… dismiss on the administrative statement of claim of Saprykin Y.K. on collecting a compensation for violated rights of proceedings WITHIN A REASONABLE PERIOD OF TIME (emphasis added by me) – for considering the case at the session of the Presidium of the Moscow City Court”.
“Within a reasonable period of time” – this is the key formula of court decisions, or even a magic conjuration in which the very crux of Saprykin’s complains against the court system of the Russian Federation. Already Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the main perpetrator of this story, long ago had done his first “reasonable” term un prison, and even, perhaps, has managed, being active in political extremism and terrorism, to commit enough offences for a life sentence, but “the reasonable period of time” for Saprykin has no ending, as in a ghostly dream.
“MENATEP HAS TIED UP LOOSE ENDS IN WATER”
And now, as they say in courts, let’s talk on the merits.
- When I was buying shares of the bank Menatep in 1990, their nominal price was 1000 rubles, said Saprykin. – This was still Soviet money. Today the price of my shares - in accordance with the index of ruble’s buying power – is about seven million rubles, together with the compensation of moral damage.
- What is the essence of you claim?
- My claim is directed against Yukos leadership, against Khodorkovsky, Lebedev and others whocreated the bank Menatep thus receiving a startup capital. They, including Yukos leadership, distributed shares in order to get money from people, and then bought their “plants and steamers” as a poet said. Then they decided to reset the bank to zero in order not to share profit with people’s shareholders, not to cut them in, and for that purpose they made bankrupt the bank Menatep. In accordance with the law, such “procedure” is regarded as fraud. In the Criminal Code, as well as in the Civil code there are articles on intentional bankruptcy that foresee compensation of damage for victims among shareholders.
The card of the bank Menatep from the digital data base “Legal Entities” of the Russian Federation”.
…In August 1998 the default, as a cerebrovascular accident, broke the economy of Russia, the state stopped paying on its short term obligations (GKOs), and after that the dollar, within three weeks, skyrocketed from six to twenty something dollars. The bank Menatep stopped its payments in September 1998, and started promptly “to funnel assets” to the so-called intermediary banks, namely “Menatep-SPB” and “Trusted Investment Bank” (DIB). To the first 61 million rubles were transferred, and to the second 75 million rubles.
On the whole, after January 1, 1999, from the practically dead bank “Menatep” were syphoned more than 355 million rubles (about 14 million dollars), which were accumulated in different firms – “pockets” of Mr. Khodorkovsky. “Naturally, the list of those trying to get back their money is big. And it consists, as it is usual in Russia, of citizens who are called “private investors”, to whom the bank owes 50 million dollars. But in vain our credulous compatriots knock on the doors, those who long ago took the risk and gave their saved money to the bank. There is no money in the bank, as if it didn’t exist at all. Where is the money? Well, how would I say…”, commented at that time the newspaper “Versiya”.
The license of the bank “Menatep” was recalled on May 18, 1999, and exactly in a week time, early in the morning on May 25, near the town Dubna a cargo truck plunged down to the river Dubna with 16 tons (!) of financial documents of the bank “Menatep”.
“Very soon, officers of the Organized Crime Investigation Department from the Central office of the Ministry of the Interior arrived at the scene of the accident. But for a very long time, pay checks of the credulous clients of “Menatep” fished from the bottom of the river were being dried in the office of the local state road inspection”, reported on December 8, 2003, the legendary magazine “Kompromat.Ru” in the article entitled “Menatep has tied up loose ends in water?” And at the scene of the incident local inhabitants and summer residents were fishing from the river bunches of floating document files.
The biggest suspicions of journalists were caused by the vagueness of inscriptions on the boxes: “rubles operation day” from the year so and so, but without a date, or “agreements of credit management”, without indication of a year at all. “The non-specificity of the wording allowed to construct any propositions pertaining to the character of the information in the drowned boxes and to the fact that it, the information, might be lost forever. Perhaps, these were account transactions of the bank’s management or information on deals connected with loans-for-shares auctions. Or credit histories that people in “Metatep” would like to forget about”, wrote the Russian newspaper “Kommersant”.
But the scandal didn’t end with this. To solution of the burning question about “where went Russian money” plugged in the still respectable at that time American publications – “The New York Times” and “Newsweek”. And they accused the bank “Menatep” of money laundering. And in 2001 a book entitled “Exposures” was published in Switzerland in which the bank “Menatep” was accused of embezzlement of the International Monetary Fund’s credits.
At the beginning 2000s, in the Netherlands, the Serious Organized Crime Agency, Unit Intelligence, Eastern Europe and Russia Division was carrying out an investigation under the code names “Artemis” and “Hermes” in which were mentioned firms under control of Mikhail Khodorkovsky – “Menatep Ltd”, “Valmet S.A.”, “Pecunia Universal Ltd”, stated the journalist investigation of the website Prigovor.ru (See «Two comrades were stirring up something together.How Khodorkovsky and Fridman were laundering $384 million in the Netherlands»)
The subject of these investigations were dubious finance transactions bearing marks of money laundering, and they went through the bank “Amsterdam Trade Bank NV” under control of Mikhail Fridman. Dutch law enforcement officers reliably ascertained that through these structures about 400 million dollars had been laundered that had been illegally funneled from the accounts of the bank “Menatep”. And in the height of this laundering campaign the insolvency supervisor Alexey Karmanov declared that there would be enough money to satisfy the demands of physical persons to no more than 20%. In 2003, accusations were being poured against the bank “Menatep” with regard to a deliberate bankruptcy.
As we can see, Yuri Saprykin, the shareholder of the intentionally killed bank “Menatep” has enough of strong reasons in order to demand from Khodorkovsky recovery of material and moral damages even 20 years later.
- Khodorkovsky and his henchmen have been in clover thanks to our money, people’s money. They robbed half a country, bought a lot of “plants and steamers”, billions were funneled to offshores. They played fast and loose, and thought that they would get away with that. But this is a criminal road, summarized Yuri Saprykin, already retired, but still an unbending fighter for justice and his own interest.
FICTITIOUS PUBLIC AUCTIONS
A similar lawsuit has been going on concerning leftovers of the assets of Khodorkovsky and other Yukos top-managers. These “leftovers”, however, represent nothing less than a great plot of golden land on Rublyovskoye Shosse and a dozen of fashionable mansions united in the cooperative society “The Apple Orchard”. All this immovable should be long ago arrested, sold and used to compensate the damage that Khodorkovsky and Co had inflicted to the state and private persons, including Mr. Saprykin. But for a long time already the court machine, for inexplicable reasons, doesn’t take off.
In August 2021, i.e. one and a half years ago, the website Prigovor.ru published a journalistic investigation “Paradise not lost for Khodorkovsky and Nevzlin” where for the first time this strange story was told about the factual immunity from the jurisdiction of “The Apple Orchard” (Apart from well-known “physical persons”, their own offshore company “Parringrove Limited”, registered in Ireland, was also a founding member).
According to the extract from the United State Registry of Immovable (EGRN), in May 2006, the land that had belonged to the Association of Collective Builders (KIZ) “The Apple Orchard”, was arrested by a decision of the Basmanny District Court of Moscow (criminal case No 18/325543-04, Judge O.N. Solopova). Yet the long term court proceedings and the arrest of the land didn’t prevetn members of the cooperative from quietly making money at “the estranged property”. Such a conclusion was made after the study of the websites of elite real-estate agencies of the Moscow Region. For instance, the agency “Status Land” put up offer for sale (?!) of one plot of land and of lending of two mansions of “The Apple Orchard”.
The seller was promoting his product full blast, without any word being said about that fact that the land under these houses is not for sale and not to be bought. “Thanks to all advantages of the community”, it was said in the advertising, “and thanks to understandable pricing, a good possibility emerges to buy here a house at a profit. The village Zhukovka, community “The Apple Orchard” (Menatep” on the Rublyovakoye Shosse provides its inhabitants with a great number of possibilities for comfort country life”.
Apart from that, according to the description of the same agency, on the territory of “The Apple Orchard” there is also a considerable non-residential property: “a modern sports and fitness complex that includes a recreation area with a swimming pool (25 meters), Finnish saunas and Russian steam baths, a spa zone with a gym, a restaurant, walking zones and places for recreation”.
As the website Prigovor.ru has found out, the money from the management were sent to accounts of the OJSC “Estate-Service” the ultimate-owner of which is the offshore co-founding company “Parringrove Limited”.
Only in March 2022, i.e. more than half a year after the publication, former top-managers of Yukos headed by Khodorkovsky and the offshore company Parringrove” were removed from the founders of “The Apple Orchard”. Yet, in spite of all that, the arrested immovable property they continue to sell and to lend, through another real-estate agency.
Offer for sale of one of the mansions of “The Apple Orchard” (April 2023).
Offer of lease of one of the mansions of “The Apple Orchard” (March 2023)
Recently we found the Ruling of the Meshchansky District Court of Moscow from March 15, 2017, pronounced on the application of the main court usher of the Russian Federation in which it was assigned to carry out a withdrawal to the benefit of the state of the property of Khodorkovsky in the cooperative “The Apple Orchard” by way of “selling on public auctions”.
Ruling of the Meshchansky District Court of Moscow from March 15, 2017
However, despite the Ruling of the court, during five years, for some reasons, no public auctions have been organized for selling of Khodorkovsky real-estate property. Moreover, for unknown reason, an additional ruling of yet another court turned out to be necessary – this time, of the town Odintsovo of the Moscow Reagion – on the same subject.
Ruling of the Odintsovo City Court from July 8, 2022
According to this court’s ruling it is necessary to hand over “The Apple Orchard” to the Federal Property Management Agency (Rosimushchentvo): “To transfer property rights of Khodorkovsky Mikhail Botisovich, Lebedev Platon Leonidovich, of the company “Perringrove Limited” in the form of participation rights in the Cooperative of individual builders “The Apple Orchard” (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number INN 50320442852, Code of the reason of registration (KPP) 5032011001 – to the recoveror, the Russian Federation acting through the Federal Property Management Agency Rosimushchestvo”.
This decision is quite rightful, although it is considerably belated. But the suspicion is getting stronger that the state even this time will not put on good use “The Apple Orchard”, that fictitious public auctions will repeat themselves concerning the real-estate property of Khodorkovsky that were announced long ago by the Meshchansky District Court of Moscow.
So, how, despite the decisions of the courts, real-estate agencies continue selling mansions belonging to the finance swindler Khodorkovsky and his henchmen?
Naturally, we addressed ourselves to a realtor who is directly dealing with sales of the country houses of Khodorkovsky and Co and posed a question about the main subject: who directly owes the real-estate and whether the mansion is under arrest? And here is his verbatim answer: first, a physical person owes the house (and not an organization); second: “there are not bankruptcies, no impairments either on the land plot, or on the house”.
It means that none of the courts’ decisions have been implemented!
For all that from 2005 Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, under the sentence of the Meshchansky District Court of Moscow, have to pay in profit of state 17 billion 395 million 449 thousand rubles. During all this time, bailiffs in 2011 could collect only 132 million 747 thousand rubles obtained due to selling of a land spot, means of transportation, shares and arrest of money on bank accounts. Thus, for 12 years, Khodorkovsky and Lebedev have been cynically and openly ignoring the demands of the Federal Bailiff Service, and bailiffs themselves have not found (or they do not try to find at all) even a kopek in the pockets of the billionaires-debtors. Although, thanks to the mentioned investigative project of the investigative outlet Prigovor.ru it became known about their billions of income from lending the mansions of the Rublyovskor Shosse.
WHY IT IS HAPPENING?
So, let’s sum up the history of the standoff (the key word here is “stand”) of the court system and Khodorkovsky’s cooperative “The Apple Orchard”?
In May 2006, the Basmanny District Court of Moscow imposed custody on the assets of the cooperative. In March 2017, the Meshchansky district Court of Moscow instructed to put the property of “The Apple Orchard” on public auctions.
In August 2021 investigators from the website Prigovor.ru unraveled that the immovable objects on the Rublyovskoye Shosse bring to the financial swindler Khodorkovsky who was sentenced in absentia to lifelong imprisonment for organizing a series of murders, as well as to other Yukos top-managers “about 1.5 million dollars a year which are then used for financing organizations that are acknowledged as extremist”. Apart from that, mansions and land of “The Apple Orchard” are leased though a real-estate agency.
In July 2022, the Odintsovo City Court of the Moscow Region decides to transfer all property of “The Apple Orchard” to the state represented by the Federal Agency for State Property Management. In March 2023 the Internet outlet Prigovor.ru finds out that the mansions and the land of “The Apple Orchard” are still freely being sold and leased to private owners, even though through a real-estate company…
In order to change the mechanics of the court’s perpetum mobile working on idling revolutions we once more addressed Mr. Saprykin, a record holder as to the duration of court litigations with Khodorkovsky.
- Though courts have not presented any objections on the essence of my claims, the lawsuit was in the end almost swept under the rug. Why? It’s clear that our judicial and legal system have flaws, but the main reason rests with specific people who were not able or didn’t want to deliver a verdict against the well-known oligarch”, said the former shareholder of “Menatep” and meaningfully added: - In this lawsuit a corruption element was evidently present.
Well, even a perpetual motion device, as practice shows, needs greasing.
Author: Alexey Chelnokov
Russian version at: «Судебная машина наехала на Ходорковского*. На холостом ходу»
* Mikhail Khodorkovsky – 20.05.2022 was acknowledged by the Justice Ministry of the Russian Federation as person fulfilling functions of a foreign agent. Included in the list with No 389.