Governor Drozdenko’s “wallet” donates Russian assets to offshore companies?
The investment company Euroinvest, co-owned by the infamous St. Petersburg billionaire Andrey Berezin, has left the founders of Regional Electronic Mass Media LLC (RESMI). Registered in 2015, this commercial structure soon bought out at an inflated price a blocking stake in the Leningrad Regional Television Company (LOT), which belonged to the government of the Leningrad Region. Considering that Berezin is in the close circle of the governor Alexander Drozdenko and even received the nickname of his “purse”, “RESMI” could be created to participate in the development of the budget millions allocated for the development of the LOT, as well as the contracts it receives. The Euroinvest company itself has been declaring multimillion-dollar losses in recent years, and besides, today Berezin is liquidating a number of commercial structures belonging to him. The money of unprofitable companies can “settle” in the accounts of affiliated offshore firms, such as “registered” in Cyprus “Raquelfar Holdings Limited”.
Earlier, there were reports in the media that the billionaire became a defendant in a criminal case on the withdrawal of $ 23 million from Russia, as part of the investigation, searches were carried out in the offices of Euroinvest and related companies back in 2019. Berezin himself categorically denied the possibility of bringing him to criminal responsibility, making every effort to “cleanse” the Internet from negative information about himself. The businessman owes much of his “unsinkability” to the governor Drozdenko, thanks to whose patronage he could for years run schemes for buying up agricultural land located on the territory of the Leningrad region with a subsequent change in the category of their purpose and resale. Berezin pays special attention to the Vsevolozhsky district, which is headed by Drozdenko’s henchman Dmitry Nizovsky: here the billionaire is implementing a number of development projects.
Berezin left RESMI
Last week, Euroinvest Investment Company withdrew from the list of co-owners of LLC Regional Electronic Mass Media (RESMI). However, from the official reporting data, we can conclude that for a long time “RESMI” did not conduct any activity: according to the results of last year, the company’s financial indicators are zero, the value of assets is “minus” 29 thousand rubles. In 2020, with zero revenue, the profit was a meager 3 thousand, assets were estimated at minus 31 thousand rubles.
Even at the peak of their very conditional financial “rise” in 2016, the owners of RESMI declared a profit of only 10 thousand rubles. One gets the impression that the company was, as they say in such cases, “a suitcase without a handle” – and it is inconvenient to carry, and it is a pity to throw it away. But the Euroinvest IC itself, owned by Andrei Berezin and his business partner Yuri Vasiliev, is far from the best: in 2021, with zero revenue, its losses amounted to 20.8 million rubles; a year earlier, there was also no revenue, losses were estimated at 16 million.
RESMI LLC was registered in July 2015. The partner of the developer Berezin in this project was the head of the expert council of the Civil Society Development Fund, political scientist Leonid Davydov. Both were in the close circle of the head of the Leningrad region Alexander Drozdenko, and in addition, Berezin gained fame as one of the sponsors of the governor’s election campaign. Already in November 2015, RESMI bought out a blocking stake (25% + 1 share) of the Leningrad Regional Television Company (LOT), which belonged to the government of the region, for 9.1 million rubles.
At first glance, LOT was a fairly promising asset: according to the publication Delovoy Peterburg, in 2015 alone, the volume of government contracts for the television company was about 12.8 million rubles. But despite the generous budget funding, it turned out to be unprofitable. The cost of the blocking stake in LOT, bought out by RESMI, was called inflated in the press.
As for the transaction itself, as Kommersant wrote, the fact of the sale of the stake was not advertised: information about the auction appeared just a week before it was held. The second participant LLC “Terminal” did not bargain, and as a result, the shares went to the companies of Berezin and Davydov, who increased the price by only one step from the starting one.
Where is the co-owner of Euroinvest really?
Perhaps “RESMI” was created with a specific goal – to develop budget funds: in 2016 alone, subsidies in the amount of 118 million rubles were allocated for the development of LOT. According to the Rusprofile portal, the total volume of contracts of the TV company as a supplier is almost 70 million, and as a customer – more than 606 million rubles. Apparently, the owners of “RESMI” got a solid “piece” of the information “pie”.
It is significant that in an interview with a Kommersant correspondent, Leonid Davydov admitted: RESMI does not invest in LOT, which is financed exclusively from the budget. As we know, there was nothing special to invest – RESMI didn’t have any money, and still doesn’t. Euroinvest declares multi-million dollar losses. In addition, the big question is who owns the television company today – there is no information about this in open sources.
Added to this are the reports that Andrey Berezin has serious problems with the security forces. Recall that back in February 2019, searches were carried out at the offices of Euroinvest in St. customs in December 2018. Investigative actions were also carried out against the affiliated companies “Complit” and “Auditekspert”. It was about the withdrawal of 23 million dollars abroad.
On the network, you can find publications from which it follows that a check on this fact was launched several years ago by law enforcement agencies in Switzerland and Germany, and Berezin himself allegedly became a defendant in a criminal case. Last March, the media and telegram channels actively discussed his departure from Russia, which was called nothing more than “flight”. But soon the messages on this topic began to be cleared, as well as other negative (and perhaps objective?) Information about the owner of Euroinvest.
At the same time, as if on cue, materials of a directly opposite – positive – nature began to appear. For example, the Krasnoye Znamya agricultural cluster, owned by Berezin, bought out assets in the Pskov region and now intends to expand the volume and range of dairy products. And no further, as last May it was reported that Euroinvest Development could become the leader in terms of housing under construction in 2022.
Millions of Berezin “dissolve” in offshore?
Simply put, it creates the effect of Berezin’s presence in Russia and his vigorous entrepreneurial activity. At the same time, however, he liquidates part of the commercial structures belonging to him. So, in the process of liquidation is specializing in the lease and property management LLC “Impulse”. At the same time, at the end of 2021, with zero revenue, the company’s profit amounted to 5.5 million rubles. For comparison: a year earlier, in the absence of revenue, Impuls declared a loss of 2.6 million.
The company Auditekspert is also being liquidated, allegedly being at the center of attention of the security forces during the searches in 2019. This commercial structure has no revenue and operates exclusively “in the red”: in 2020 alone, its losses amounted to 28.8 million rubles. The co-founder of Auditekspert, the unprofitable LLC Megacenter, and its parent structure LLC Graviton Investments are in the process of liquidation.
Recall that officially the multi-million dollar losses are also declared by the widely advertised company Euroinvest. Here you need to pay attention to the following circumstance: Mr. Berezin’s business is tied to offshore companies. For example, since 2015, the co-owner of Impuls LLC, together with Euroinvest, is Rakelfar Holdings Limited, a company registered in Cyprus. She is also one of the founders of three more commercial structures – Primorsky Trust, Building Systems and Inprojectrechtrans.
Perhaps the finances of unprofitable companies “settle” in offshore accounts for years? In this context, it is worth recalling the searches related to the withdrawal of 23 million rubles from Russia. Let’s add here the liquidation of a number of enterprises, the exit of Euroinvest from among the co-owners of RESMI … From the outside, what is happening really resembles the preparation of a businessman for a possible departure “for the cordon”.
“Purse” Drozdenko buys land
The reason for Andrey Berezin’s many years of “unsinkability” and his “invulnerability” to the security forces is called connections with high-ranking officials of the northern capital and the Leningrad region. First of all, we are talking, of course, about the governor Alexander Drozdenko: the businessman is called not only the “gray cardinal”, but also the “purse” of the head of the region.
Mutually beneficial “cooperation” between a businessman and an official began in the mid-2000s, when Drozdenko was the head of the Leningrad Regional Committee for State Property Management. This useful acquaintance made it possible for the “investor” to buy agricultural land around St. Petersburg for a small price, with their subsequent transfer to the category of land for settlements and resale at a huge markup.
One of the publications of Nezavisimaya Gazeta tells about the withdrawal in 2011 from the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Defense and the sale of the territory of the Rzhev military training ground with an area of about 500 hectares: the plots bought out for 75 million rubles were then sold for 3.3 billion. Oddly enough, but such a “successful” transaction was ignored by the employees of the competent authorities.
According to the Vek publication, in 2006, Berezin, by agreement with the director of the agricultural CJSC Ruchii Alexander Trafimov, received ownership of a territory of more than 3 hectares near the village of Murino. After prompt transfer from the agricultural category, the land was transferred for the construction of 10 residential complexes.
But perhaps the most resonant was the construction of the Devyatkino transport interchange hub (TPU), the opening of which was planned to coincide with the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The project included the construction of intercity and international bus stations, a railway station and a metro station. But in the end, the land allocated for the TPU was bought out and resold by Berezin. How did this become possible? It was rumored that with the “blessing” of the governor Drozdenko.
Business jet and wedding on the Cote d’Azur
Berezin pays special attention to the Vsevolozhsk municipal district, whose head Dmitry Nizovsky is the governor’s protégé. As the authors of Nezavisimaya Gazeta write, the Vsevolozhsk district is “Golden. Here is the most expensive land, it is the closest to St. Petersburg. It is no coincidence that the activities of the heads of this district were accompanied by numerous scandals, revelations, even criminal cases. As a result, in the person of Nizovsky, not only Drozdenko, but also Berezin received the right post, whose company began implementing a number of development projects in the area, including the construction of the ID Murino residential complex, the ID Kudrovo residential complex, etc.
The owner of “Euroinvest” was noted in the struggle for the “garbage” monopoly. In particular, Berezin was associated with the Management Company for Waste Management in the Leningrad Region (JSC UKOOLO), which received the status of a reoperator in 2018. The scale of its activities is best illustrated by the portfolio of government contracts: 766.8 million rubles – as a supplier and 14.4 billion – as a customer. The businessman himself, however, categorically denied any relation to Ukoolo.
However, Berezin should feel great even without “garbage” contracts: in 2020, the Business Petersburg publication estimated his fortune at 10.9 billion rubles. Note that the billionaire, who has been “hilling up” the Leningrad Region for many years, regularly demonstrates gratitude to his political patron. And it’s not just about financing his gubernatorial campaign.
It is known that in 2015 Alexander Drozdenko married his daughter Yulia. The wedding was celebrated on a “patriotic” scale in France, on the Cote d’Azur at the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. There were reports on the network that Berezin could also contribute to the organization of the celebration. For example, by providing the official’s family with their own business jet. Without a doubt, gratitude is a good quality. But given the partial liquidation of the business, the sale of assets and the possible interest of the security forces, the St. Petersburg oligarch himself may soon need a business jet.