Money grows on trees for Nikolay Levitskiy | The keeper of sanctioned assets

The enterprises of his less fortunate “colleagues” come under the control of Russian businessman Nikolay Levitskiy, who escaped sanctions. Another asset was reregistered to the businessman. This time it is the Tuloma Marine Terminal in the Kola District of the Murmansk Region.

Money grows on trees for Nikolay Levitskiy | The keeper of sanctioned assets
Nikolay Levitsky. Photo: Alexey Nikolsky / RIA Novosti

It was bought by the Axioma Investment Company, belonging to Nikolay Levitskiy and Boris Aleshin, Chairman of the Rosnano Board of Directors. For the first time, Levitskiy appeared as a public figure, the holder of assets of persons under sanctions, in December last year, when Axiomi Consolidation, his newly created offshore company, purchased a controlling stake in the IRC mining company from Gazprombank in a very strange transaction for $ 96 million.

Then, the Donalink Company, which owns the Primorsky regional power station, was transferred to Mr. Levitskiy in mid-April. Previously, Donalink was owned by billionaire Andrey Melnichenko.

In late 2021, the financial market was stirred up by a very strange series of transactions in which the largest consolidated stake in the IRC iron ore company (29.9%) was transferred from the previous owner, the Petropavlocsk gold mining holding, to the offshore Axiomi Consolidation, which belonged to Levitskiy according to documents. Axiomi Consolidation acquired these shares on December 30, 2021 from the offshore Gazprombank Cerisier Ventures Limited and Major Mining Partner, the organization of billionaire Dmitry Bakatin, for $ 96 million. On December 10, 2021, 20 days earlier, the same shares were bought from Stoken Board for $ 32 million. A week earlier, on December 3, Stoken Board acquired these shares for $ 10 million from the gold mining company Petropavlovsk.

The fact of multiple resale of the stake with a price increase by an order of magnitude did not go unnoticed by market participants and traders. Experts considered the «pile of consecutive deals» either as a protection of further judicial challenge (for example, in case of bankruptcy of the seller), or as a way for the management of Petropavlovsk in January 2022. The controlling shareholder of the gold miner demanded to prohibit the deal, but the management sold the company 6 times cheaper than the stock exchange value of the shares.

There was no doubt in the market that Nikolay Levitskiy was only a representative of the real beneficiary of the purchase, who is in the shadow of the offshore Axiomi Consolidation – Andrey Melnichenko. He’s the one that most likely financed the deal. In reality, the funds provided by Axiomi to buy the IRC could have come back to the buyer from the offshore of Gazprombank, which is in the middle of the chain of re-purchasers because Levitskiy himself, who is experiencing financial difficulties due to the bankruptcy of his last asset, Novgorod’s Deka kvass factory, hardly had $ 96 million of spare cash to buy IRC stock when his creditors have been unable to get several times less than that for the fourth year.

The media wrote repeatedly about the IRC shares deal and the personality of Mr. Levitskiy. Note that Nikolay Levitskiy was employed by several commercial companies, including EuroСhem, where he was even listed as the head of the holding for a while.

In the Tyumen region, Nikolay Levitskiy is known for Geotech Holding, an oilfield Services Company created with loan funds, on the basis of which IG Seismic Services (IGSS) was then formed. By the way, at one time Levitsky’s partner in IGSS with a 25% share was Gennady Timchenko. In the summer of 2017, Levitskiy, the company’s key shareholder and manager, was forced to exit the business by selling or, to be more precise, giving up his share to creditors. By that time, IGSS had debts of approximately 20 billion rubles ($ 33.19 mln.) Otkritie Group and Sberbank were the main creditors of the holding. Only thanks to their joint efforts, these FIGs managed to recover at least some of the funds issued to Levitskiy.

The default on loans by Agan-Burenie, a member of the holding company, was Geotech’s biggest scam. In 2010-2012, Sberbank issued loans worth a total of 957 million rubles ($ 31.9 mln) to the enterprise and accepted the company’s contractual revenues as collateral. However, some of the contracts turned out to be fictitious, and the debt of the contractors to Agan-Burenie was doubled «on paper,» from 600 million ($ 20 mln) to 1.2 billion rubles ($ 40 mln.) A total of 174 million rubles ($ 5.8 mln) were paid to Sberbank out of the nearly one billion debt, after which Agan-Burenie was sold to Investment Alliance and filed for bankruptcy in 2013.

Sberbank applied to law enforcement authorities for fraud, but suddenly Geotech’s debts in the amount of almost 800 million rubles ($ 26.6 mln) with the tacit consent of the management of the West Siberian Bank of Sberbank of Russia was bought out by a certain MC Alta for 100 million rubles ($ 3.36 mln.) It turned out that the funds in MC Alta came from Geotech Holding via an intermediary company, immediately liquidated after the deal. Thus, Levitskiy purchased his debt of 790 million rubles ($ 26.3 mln) for 100 million rubles ($ 3.36 mln.)

After Geotek, Mr. Levitskiy’s directed his attention to the above-mentioned Novgorod-based Deka. Once Deka was the largest «kvass» producer in Russia, for the purchase of which PepsiCo was ready to pay up to $ 200 million. After Levitskiy appointed himself CEO and ran the company for some time, the business began to suffer losses and the case logically came to bankruptcy. Once again, the creditors filed a complaint with the law enforcement authorities that indicated fictitious deals of Deka with companies of Levitskiy amounting to almost half a billion rubles. The bankruptcy case of Deka is now being considered in the arbitration court.

After the start of the war in Ukraine and the imposition of sanctions against Gazprombank by certain countries, Levitskiy’s participation in the IRC purchase deal gained new meaning. As a direct result of the whole chain of transactions, IRC, listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, was freed from sanctions risks in case the real owner is under direct sanctions of the USA, the EU or the UK as Levitskiy himself is not currently on any sanctions lists.

It is likely that this is why Levitskiy again acted as a professional holder of other people’s assets in April. According to Interfax, Donalink International Company, a resident of the Special Administrative Region in Primorye, changed owners on April 8. Donalink Ltd. was formerly a Cypriot company, redomiciled in the SAR in 2019.

The company was originally owned by Andrey Melnichenko’s Cypriot-based AIM Capital plc. According to the Unified State Register of Legal Entities, Nikolay Levitskiy, Alexander Ageenkov, Oleg Kovalev and Yuri Kryukov became equal shareholders in Donalink as of April 7, 2022. On the same day, the shares were pledged to AIM Capital plc. In doing so, Melnichenko, who is under sanctions, retained control over the asset without being formally linked to it.

Exactly the same story, similar to the smallest detail, happened with Tuloma Marine Terminal. According to the plan, the port terminal was to be launched in the next year, with a cargo turnover of 5-5.5 million tons per year at Tuloma. The transshipment of fertilizers, primarily produced by Phosagro, owned by the sanctioned Guriev family, is the main profile of the terminal.

Prior to the sale, Tuloma was equally owned by former Russian Deputy Transport Minister Viktor Olersky through his subsidiary Cruise and Transport Investments (CTI, Moscow) and Capstans Holding Limited (Cyprus). Earlier, Olersky’s share belonged to Gleb Frank’s Rockwell Capital.

The nominal value of 100 percent of Tuloma’s stake for the buyers was 5 million rubles ($ 69,160) with investment estimates of 12 billion rubles ($ 165,985). The deal to «sell» the terminal was made on April 29. There was a pledge agreement between IK Axioma, KTI and Capstans Holding Limited from the same day. Tuloma Marine Terminal is the pledged property.

Incidentally, Gleb Frank is the son-in-law of Gennady Timchenko. Both businessmen are under sanctions.