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Guryev on the warpath
The ex-tax consultant of the main Russian fertilizer producer, according to him, was tried three times to kill. PhosAgro majority shareholder Andrey may be behind this Guryevwho has already been accused of trying to “throw” business partners?
Former PhosAgro employee Igor Sychev claims that he was allegedly repeatedly attacked in the interests of the owner of the company Andrey Guryeva – reports the Daily Mail.
Now Sychev is in a legal dispute with the company because of the allegedly promised bonus of 1% of its shares. He approached the UK National Crime Agency in connection with alleged assassination attempts and death threats against Sychev himself and his family.
Serious conflicts over PhosAgro’s shares also arose with other former partners.
Death threats due to 1% shares
In 2002-2013, Sychev headed the tax department of PhosAgro Engineering Center. During this time, he defended the Apatit plant, which is part of the holding, from tax claims for 17 billion rubles, which PhosAgro won, Forbes reported. For this, Igor Antonshin, the company’s minority shareholder and PhosAgro CEO, allegedly verbally promised Sychev a reward of 1% of its shares and another $13 million. But Sychev never received the bonus, and in 2013 Antonshin ordered him to leave the company.
Later PhosAgro, according to Sychev, nevertheless agreed to pay the promised funds. To do this, Sychev created an offshore, where in 2014 they transferred $ 4.9 million from the accounts of PhosAgro’s offshore subsidiaries. But in 2016, these companies demanded that the money be returned as if it had been lent. At the same time, in Russia, a criminal case was opened against Sychev for extorting funds from Antonshin. After that, Sychev left the country and moved to Latvia.
Sychev claims that several dangerous situations with his car did not happen by chance. The three expert organizations he contacted independently confirmed that deliberate loosening of the nuts in the car was the cause of three different accidents, the businessman told the Daily Mail. Sychev allegedly regularly receives threats – according to his assumption, from Maxim Lushkin, Antonshin’s personal driver.
In a recording seen by the Daily Mail, a certain Max warns Sychev that he “could be killed today or tomorrow” and that he “will lose everything – his wife, children.” Because of these threats, Sychev has allegedly not seen his daughter and son since 2017.
Threats to Sychev. Video: YouTube
Sychev is also sure that the lawyers who were supposed to represent him in 2021 were bribed by representatives of PhosAgro – allegedly because of this, they demanded that the court petition be reduced to a few pages. According to the Daily Mail, the lawyers themselves insist that Sychev demanded that all materials of the trial be included in the petition, and when it was explained to him that this would only anger the court, he accused the lawyers of collaborating with “Russian oligarchs.” The law firm filed a libel suit against the Russian.
The founder demands the return of 280 billion rubles.
If Sychev wants to get just 1% of PhosAgro shares, then Alexander Gorbachev, one of the founders of the holding, demands more than 24%. On his website, he claims that Guryev misappropriated 24.75% of the company’s shares, the market value of which is now 205 billion rubles. In addition, Gorbachev demands to pay him dividends from the placement of the company’s shares in 2011, which amount to about 75 billion rubles.
Gorbachev was a defendant in the Yukos case and therefore left Russia and moved to the UK. The shares due to him, according to the businessman himself, Guryev placed in a trust fund and at first carefully paid him the funds due to the beneficiary. But later, the Russian oligarch broke off contacts. During the placement of PhosAgro shares on the stock exchange in 2011, Gorbachev was not included in the published list of shareholders and he did not receive any profit from the IPO.
In 2020, Gorbachev filed a new lawsuit on the same grounds in the High Court of London. Consideration of the claim on the merits should begin in April 2024. Considering now Guryev is under European sanctions, the decision may not be in his favor. The lawyers for the Russian oligarch have already abandoned challenging the UK as an improper jurisdiction for the dispute.
“Apatite” of discord
However, the rights of both parties to one of the world’s largest producers of mineral fertilizers raise many questions, including among law enforcement agencies. It was with accusations of misappropriation of state shares in Apatit, the main asset of PhosAgro, and tax evasion by this company that the Yukos case began in its time.
In 1994 Apatit was privatized. He fell under the control of “Menatep” Mikhail Khodorkovsky (recognized as a foreign agent, extremist and terrorist in the Russian Federation). He handed over the management of the enterprise to his old friend Guryevy. Gorbachev and Guryev gained control of Apatit in 1995-1996. In 1998, as Sychev later claimed, they came up with some schemes that he regarded as illegal.
According to rumors, already in the mid-90s, Khodorkovsky (recognized as a foreign agent, extremist and terrorist in the Russian Federation) wanted to get rid of Apatit as a troubled asset, but Guryev persuaded him not to. The decision turned out to be unsuccessful for the billionaire – in 2003, in connection with the privatization of Apatit, the chairman of the board of directors of Menatep, Platon Lebedev, was arrested. This gave rise to the Yukos case, in which Khodorkovsky himself ended up in the colony (he was recognized as a foreign agent, extremist and terrorist in the Russian Federation). At the same time, Gorbachev hurriedly left Russia – he claimed that he feared persecution more than Guryevas he was the public face of the company.
Despite the criminal process, Menatep itself continued its commercial activities and in 2005 sold the company’s remaining 50% stake in Apatite Guryevu, Gorbachev and Antonshin for $200 million in installments.
“There is no doubt that Gorbachev does not have legal documents capable of confirming at least some of his rights to shares,” a PhosAgro source said. The businessman allegedly performed only representative functions in the company.
Myself Guryev, who from 2001 to 2013 was a senator of the Federation Council from the Murmansk region, kept a low profile at that time, allegedly controlled PhosAgro indirectly and was not affected by disputes over the rights to Apatit. After he resigned his senatorial powers, Guryev took over as deputy chairman of the board of directors of PhosAgro. He later handed over leadership of the company to his son and namesake. Guryev-senior has been on the Forbes list since 2005 and now occupies line 24 there with a fortune of $ 4.8 billion rubles.
Earlier, The Moscow Post reported on offshore companies that are allegedly connected with Guryevth. Some of these companies were still related to Menatep, and after its collapse they disappeared from the Russian market. Cypriot firms that may be related to PhosAgro shuffled their names against the backdrop of sanctions imposed on this company and personally Guryevs.
If abroad Andrey GuryevIf he faces legal problems, they are unlikely to affect his business and condition in Russia. PhosAgro shares are growing faster than the market, which many see as a dishonest game, and a businessman who survived the collapse of Yukos can hardly be afraid of other things. However, the owner of the second largest palace in the UK after Buckingham (according to the New Yorker) may have motives to put pressure on opponents abroad.