Saturday, 17 November 2018, 8:28 AM GMT
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In 2004 the former State Duma deputy M. Vasiliev and president of "Marta" holding G. Trefilov have reached an agreement on the sale of the store chain "Prodmak", later resulting in a transaction taking place between the structures to which M. Vasiliev and G. Trefilov belonged. The sale of 16 supermarkets to Trefilov caused their former owner M. Vasiliev numerous lawsuits, criminal proceedings against him and his assistants, arrest and several years in prison.

The process is remembered as being scandalous and absurd with dozens of media covering it. The accused and their relatives appealed to the ECHR, trying to prove that the case was purely civil in nature and that the criminal prosecution was illegal and "fixed", but all in vain - after 3 years of investigation Maxim Vasiliev was convicted.

Officially, the conflict arose because of the inventory that was left over in the "Prodmak" stores.  Within the sold stores remained about $ 2 million worth of alcoholic products with "Marta" holding not having the necessary license to sell alcohol.

Those were the products that have disappeared without a trace from the shops, after learning about it M. Vasiliev’s group debited the account for the amount guaranteed in the letter of credit, after which the conflict began, later growing into a criminal case. (According to another version - the dispute concerned the $ 500,000 received from "Marta" as a down payment for the unfinished building on the 54 Pererva Street, not included in the initial deal).

The first absurd episode of this case began with establishing and prosecuting of the persons, who actually stole the wine from the shops. They turned out to be police officers (one of them a colonel), and they were subsequently convicted of exceeding their official powers.

But the case of M. Vasiliev has already been given the “go ahead”, because the authorities have intervened. Well known is the fact that the civil conflict between the seller and the buyer turned into a criminal investigation after State Duma deputy G. Gudkov approached the then Minister of Internal Affairs R. Nurgaliev, who occupied the post from 2004 to 2012, and asked to deal with the matter.

The interest in the issue is simply explained - Gudkov received a letter from the "Marta" representatives with complaints and a request to intervene. In the appeal, it was stated that during a major business deal one of the structures belonging to "Marta" was being cheated out of $ 30 million by representatives of M. Vasiliev.

Also in the same letter addressed to G. Gudkov the German retailer appealed with their concerns. At that time the cooperation between Trefilov and REWE has just begun, and the German partner has not only helped in developing Trefilov’s business reputation, but also provided its patronage in obtaining loans.

In turn Mr. Trefilov extensively used at his own discretion the support and trust of REWE, as well as their connections.

Although recently, in 2013, it was suddenly "found out" that Mr. Trefilov expected from his German partner even greater participation and even claimed in the pages of Russian media, that the partner supposedly provided insufficient assistance in developing his own business.

But back in 2005, it is a fact that the cooperation of the giant REWE with the obscure businessman Trefilov was what decided the fate of the matter. Naturally, none of the decision makers wanted to "lose face" in front of the European investor, and so they intervened in the conflict.   

…And as for Trefilov, while solving his problems, once again he was able to confirm the strength of the printed word – the "Cooperation Agreement" magically affected many in the long years to come…

Despite the fact that the dispute concerned not $ 30 million, but about $ 2 million and the fact that the matter was fully resolved before legal action in the arbitration process (second and third absurd facts), the criminal case was filed in 2005(note: only after a second attempt) and then M. Vasiliev was arrested only 2 years later, in 2007.

The Internal Affairs investigation committee has seen signs of fraud in actions of M. Vasiliev. Moreover, the developed version was that the situation with the LC and the remnants of alcohol, which in general "is certainly not necessary" to "Marta", was planned in advance by the ex-deputy Vasiliev and his associates, as well as the parts in the contract where they originally made points of fraudulent behaviour. 

Do you recognize the script? In 2013, in an interview with A. Levinskaya, true to his role of "victim", Trefilov talked about the “contract-trap" signed with REWE in 2004. According to the latest version: within the "Agreement" the German lawyers allegedly made "in principle illegal settlements", thanks to which he was "cheated" through "the inexperience of his lawyers".

The fourth absurd fact - Trefilov could hardly be cheated. Because the contracts with "Prodmak" were compiled with the assistance of the international consulting and auditing company KPMG, which was involved by Trefilov to guarantee for their legitimacy. How in the contracts drawn up by the buyer could the seller have made fraudulent editions (?) is remained unanswered. Still the charges were brought against Vasiliev.

According to M. Vasiliev’s lawyers, the investigation of the case was flawed: One of the key points being that after the arbitration proceedings and in spite of the decisions made by them, even in violation of the legal framework itself, the investigation issued its own assessment of what has happened, at times contradictory. The committee ignored the fact that the transactions between buyers and sellers were fully concluded; even the terms of the investigation itself were violated.

During the process, there was other nonsense, this time with one of the investigators who conducted the case - Mr. Zaitsev. Zaitsev himself had a criminal case filed against him in connection with his work, and as the ex-investigator claimed, the case was "fixed".

He was accused of abuse of power and illegal detention and search during investigation of high-profile cases concerning furniture centers "Three Whales" and "Grand", whereby he found himself in the dock and received a suspended sentence. Later on Zaitsev, like his person under investigation (M. Vasiliev), also appealed to the ECHR on the illegality of his prosecution, after which he engaged in human rights activities.

Maxim Vasiliev himself made repeated statements during the process, according to which his family and companions were approached with suggestions to resolve the issue with the criminal case for $ 25 million. The "Help" was allegedly offered by Trefilov’s side. Vasiliev in vain tried to convince the justice department that one of the structures of "Marta" holding, namely "Elekskor", is on the verge of bankruptcy, and the money that the “victim" is trying to claim is vitally necessary to close the financial gap. "Elekskor", acting as the buyer of the "Prodmak" network, also was the receiver on bonds and credit obligations of the holding.

The statement by M. Vasiliev has been verified, but the case of extortion was still denied. However later, Trefilov’s company indeed became bankrupt, and a criminal case was made against him on initial charges of illegally obtaining loans (2008 – 2009).

Another ironic twist of fate - in 2008 the very same Pavel Zaitsev will carry out a ruling on conducting of investigative and operational actions towards "Marta" holding.

At the same time, Trefilov’s partners, both from the Russian and German sides, attempted to explain to the investigation and the court about some hidden circumstances of the Case and the details of the transaction itself. These findings confirmed part of M. Vasiliev’s testimony in favour of his defense (they included details about the debts and impending bankruptcy of Trefilov).

These testimonies were recorded in the case, but in court the state prosecutor and Trefilov’s lawyer both rejected the defense's request to summon "inconvenient" witnesses, because it was supposedly "inappropriate" for a hearing in their opinion.

The remaining trade goods were still paid for by LLC "Elekskor" (in the amount of 15 million rubles) as a result of lengthy proceedings. As for the general director of "Elekskor" and the top manager of Trefilov, in 2007 V. Kurdin was given a suspended sentence for failure to fulfill decisions made in courts of various tiers and willful refusal to pay multimillion accounts payable entrusted to him by the company.

And during all this time the investigation of the "Prodmak" case continued, with trials of M. Vasiliev and his assistants going on unabated.

Maxim Vasiliev was convicted in 2009 and received a sentence of 8 years imprisonment.

The final absurdity was the news that Trefilov himself was charged in 2010 under article 159 part 4 "Large Scale Fraud." But at that time M. Vasiliev was already imprisoned, while Trefilov hastily left Russia.

Maxim Vasiliev after several revisions of his case was released early on parole, and in 2013 his father Igor Vasiliev addressed the Russian Investigation Committee, trying to achieve a full rehabilitation for his son.


Elekskor Ltd. in 2006 was on the verge of bankruptcy, unable to pay suppliers - creditors. The debt was 15 million rubles (or 280 - 300 GBP)

A declaration of bankruptcy of Elekskor LLC from the creditors.