In October 2008, operatives of the Moscow militia, entered the office building on Prospect Vernadskogo, 29, to verify information about possible tax evasion, and rushed to the door 703 "A", that could hardly be opened. They operatives might not have fully realized that encroached on the interests of the people much more powerful: namely, the partners of Vladimir Putin’s childhood friend - a St. Petersburg lawyer Victor Hmarin. As well as they could not have known that their check, which ultimately ended by nothing, nevertheless raised a whole layer of companies supplying equipment for Gazprom, and a network of "fly-by-night" companies, through which the money had been transferred.
Based on the materials of the stopped inspection, "Novaya gazeta" found at least 16 associated companies, controlled by people from the surrounding of Victor Hmarina. Since 2003, they had been engaged in the supply system of Gazprom, and had been defeating in its contests with suspicious frequency. In 2008, the total revenue of those offices exceeded 20 billion rubles. Some of them continued to win Gazprom's competitions in 2009 and became a supplier in 2010 ... In general, the operatives could never reach such a level, even those from the capital.
The policemen did not manage to check other offices, which, according to the inspection records, might have contained the documents. According to the reports, they were interested in the premises located at the Moscow addresses: Leninsky Prospekt, 63 / 2, and Vavilov Street, 79, 1, where the St. Petersburg Bar Association had been located; however the lawyers' offices cannot be simply searched during the initial inquiry. The lawyers have a special status.
Coincidentally, Vavilov Street, 79, 1, is the address at which three companies had been registered - the winners of Gazprom's competitions for an equipment supply in 2005-2008: “Real Invest”, “Trade House Cosmos Neftegazdetal", and" Pipeline Fittings”. The firm "Hmarin & Partners” created by Victor Hmarin was also listed there; yet he has a valid attorney's status and is a member of the St. Petersburg City Bar Association.
Operatives supposed that the status of the St. Petersburg Bar Association could be used in Moscow to cover the activities of “Yamal Inves”. They noticed another coincidence in the reports - a member of the Board of Gazprom and the director general of “Gazprom configurations” Igor Fedorov used to work in the St. Petersburg Bar Association (as well as Hmarin).
The Moscow firm "Hmarin and partners" appeared in 2004. Hmarin Victor and Vyacheslav Kupriyanov were among its founders; the latter worked as general director of "Yamal Invest”. Starting from 2003 Gazprom supplied the equipment through this company to itself; that is a subsidiary of Gazprom -"Centrenergogaz" supplied spares and repair parts to the companies of “Gazprom” through "YamalInvest" (as stated in the report of "Centrenergogaz). Until 2008 a subsidiary of Gazprom “Gazkomplektimpex” (now “Gazprom complication "), being responsible for the supplies in the group’s enterprises, owned 75% of "Yamal Invest ", and then sold that share to "Yamal Investu”. However, in 2008 and in 2009, that wonderful structure continued to win competitions and still was a “Gazprom's” supplier.
Hmarin’s partners had relation to people well known in Gazprom. The co-founders of "Hmarin and partners" were two Muscovites - Alexander Kazakov, and Nikolay Yakovenko. In October 2008, in response to a request from the law enforcement agencies “Gazkomplektimpex” reported that Yakovenko had visited them to represent the interests of "Yamal Invest”.
Kazakov and Yakovenko owned a firm “TelBiKo", registered on Leninsky Prospect, 63 / 2. One should be reminded that in the cold autumn of 2008 policemen went to this address to search for documents and contractors of “Yamal Investa” and failed, as there were offices of St. Petersburg Bar Association located. "TelBiKo" passed through pipeline fittings and wellhead equipment for wells to “Gazprom”. Until September 2008, that company controlled 70% of "Trading House VMZ (Vyksunsky Metallurgic Plant)”, a multiple winner of the “Gazprom” competitions.
Information by “Novaya Gazeta”:
The founders of “TelBiKo" had long-standing relationship with the gas giant. George Dutov was listed as a co-founder of the firm; he headed the Board of Directors in the company of the former board member of “Gazprom”, Valentin Nikishin ( "Quorum-H"). Nikishin once was so powerful that in 2001 he was even considered a rival to the current head of “Gazprom” - Alexey Miller. In 2005, Nikishin died in a car crash.
In addition to "TelBiKo" the partners of Victor Hmarin - Kazakov and Yakovenko - established the companies which were suppliers to “Gazprom”: ZAO “Fittings Pipeline”, and together with Kupriyanov - OOO" Real Invest”. Both companies were listed at the same address with "Hmarin and partners”. The first one cooperated actively with the Taganrog factory "Red Kotelschik” and the Chelyabinsk factory "Trubodetal ", while the second one is a part of “United Metallurgical Company".
The supplier of Gazprom - "Trading House Space-Neftegazdetal" (formerly "TD Neftegazdetal") - was also registered at the same address with "Hmarin and Partners, at the time it had been created by the Voronezh NPO “Neftegazdetal" producing oil and gas equipment. According to SKRIN (system of complex information and new disclosure), the enterprise owned 30% of the company. CEO of the Firm was Alexey Vivcharik. According to the letter by “Gazkomplektimpex” to the law enforcement agencies, Vivcharik also represented the interests of "Yamal Investa”. Up to 2007 he headed the supplier of “Gazprom"– "Trading House VMZ” as well.
judging by the letter of “Gazkomplektimpex”, another person who also represented the interests of "YamalInvest" was Damir Sitdikov; he was a founder and director of such suppliers of “Gazprom”, as "GazInterAvto", "Water Engineering Limited" and "Our product trading”. The latter company was an operator of "Gazprom" on horticultural production.
The winner of the competition on “Gazprom's” supplier of materials, equipment and general ship components to “Gazflot” under the program of 2010 "Water Engineering Limited” in the past had one phone number with the operator of horticultural operator, and half controlled the tire supplier of “Gazprom” – the company "LiderTransServis”. In turn, a regular winner of “Gazprom's” competitions since 2005, "GazInterAvto” owns a half of the batteries supplier of "Gazprom” "-" Trading House Bank”. All the attempts to contact Sitdikov through the secretary have failed.
According to the audit, various firms take part in the scheme of equipment supply from “Gazkomplektimpex” to the enterprises of “Gazprom”; they act as agents and principals, which have agency contracts concluded with "YamalInvest". All the money passed through the agents, including promissory notes. The taxable base consisted of agency fees only, which, according to the operatives, was underestimated, thus the main amount was held by the agents without paying taxes, and products for enterprises of Gazprom were shipped directly from factory to customers. "Yamal Invest" was listed as an agent as well. It never registered any product on itself. A number of companies in a scheme got shut down before the tax reporting period, and the tax was not paid.
After considering the results of "Yamal Invest" audit, the criminal case initiation was dismissed. At the same time the dismissal order contained reports on understatement of the tax base, "fly-to-night companies", and black accounting; and also the fact that the CEO Kupriyanov had been unable to explain anything. They even did not manage to obtain documentation on the financial and economic activities’ management in "Yamal Investa”.
Source: "Novaya Gazeta" on 22.03.2010