For now one year, a criminal case is under investigation in France with regard to the use of the Bank « St Petersburg » of forged documents in order to mislead the French justice and obtain fraudulently court decisions against Vitaly Arkhangelsky and his family.
The case is that reports of expert graphologists in Russia and in France allow considering that Mr and Mrs Arkhangelsky have never signed personal guarantee agreements submitted by the Bank « St Petersburg » to the French court.
On January 19, 2011, M Arkhangelsky files a complaint with the Public Prosecutor of the Tribunal de Grande Instance (the First Instance Court of general jurisdiction) of Nice concerning the facts of use of contracts with falsified signatures and the attempts to obtain, in a fraudulent manner, court decisions to the benefit of the Bank.
On February, 2012, within the framework of the case initiated on the basis of this complaint, the investigation authorities summoned some of the witnesses named in the list provided by Vitaly Arkhangelsky.
For now 12 years, Vitaly Arkhangelsky is the head of Oslo Marin Group, a holding company with various activities in St Petersburg specialized in port activities, investment and finance, development and construction. In the middle of 2008 (at the top of its development) the holding was capitalized at about 1 billion Euros.
After a raider’s attack carried out in the beginning of 2009 (Vitaly Arkhangelsky is persuaded that, behind this attack, there were the governor ot St Petersrbug Valentina Matvienko and the Bank of St Petersburg in the person of the Chairman of the Board and his deputy Sergey Matvienko (the son of the ex-governor), the major part of the business was captured, and Vitaly Arkhangelsky, for security reasons, had to leave to France for permanent residence, and further he obtained the protection of the French Republic and the refugee status (the first Russian businessman who obtained this status in France).
Two years ago, Russian human rights defendants published an appeal to democratic States : «the Russian government abuses of mechanisms of
international treaties on extradition and legal aid…to persecute innocent people – its political opponents or those whose assets Putin’s officials captured or want to capture, or just those with whom they settle personal accounts. We appeal… until efficient mechanisms are developed… to install a moratorium for… execution of requests for extradition…”.
Vitaly Arkhangelsky’s story is a one more story of an attempted creation of an honest business in Russia. With a natural result: attempted extortion, a cascade of forged cases, searches, threats, attempted raider’s attacks on the business.
From Arkhangelsky’s letter to the Head of the General Administration of the Ministry of Home Affaires for St Petersburg and the Region of Leningrad Mikhail Sukhodolsky [at present, Sukhodolky with his family has to stay in Israel]: «…For two years I have been living in France and I’m on international and federal wanted list… My story begins in October 2005 when, being a successful businessman, I was a victim of an attempted murder. … I filed a complaint with the RUVD of district Primorsky of St Petersburg… As a result… the Head of the GU MVD V.Piotrovsky suggested that I paid a colossal amount of money to a private security company he recommended for my protection and my defence against the police.
As an honest businessman… I refused. Since then, I lived under the avalanche of permanent blackmailing and threats from agents of the GUVD for St Petersburg and the Region of Leningrad. The Investigation Officer Yu. Levitskaya , since the beginning of 2007, initiated new and new criminal cases… under the coverage of personal instructions of Piotrovsky and the support of the governor Matvienko.
...In Spring 2009, my business was subjected to a raiders’ attack by the Bank « St Petersburg » JSC… In response to my disobedience and resistance to the raiders, at the instruction of V.Piotrovsky (according to his closest agents) they decided to put me in prison. Having received this information, in June 2009, I left Russia… My appeal to the President of the Russian Federation made the raiders in uniform even angrier.
…I ask you to examine the situation and to punish the culpable persons, and to let me a possibility to come back to my Motherland to continue my business projects».
All Arkhangeslky’s « fault » remains in problems with repayment of a loan to the bank of St Petersburg. His situation is traditional in modern Russia: the party which has a « power resource » transforms a litigation under civil law into the litigation under the public law via initiating a criminal case on the basis of article 159 of the Penal Code of the Russian Federation, « fraud », which is exceptionally
« elastic » [it is only comparable in this regard with anti-extremist article 282 and anti-drug article 228].
In 2009, Vitaly Arkhangelsy’s companies owed to the Bank “St Petersburg” about 2.5 billion roubles, but, in the depth of international financial crisis, they could not pay the money back fast. After that, the Bank “St Petersburg” claimed the complete repayment of the loan in infringement of its obligation to extend the loan. As a result of active measures of law-enforcement structures, «St Petersburg» obtained control over certain OMG (Oslo Marin Group) assets.
As Vitaly Arkhangelsky says, the Chairman of the Board of the Bank of St Petersburg Alexander Savelyev summoned him and, in a form of an ultimatum, requested to sign an agreement for sale an purchase of shares in the share capital of « Western terminal » LLC (99%) and « Scandinavia Insurance Company » LLC(100%) to the benefit of certain companies and for the price which was several thousands times (!) lower than the par value of these shares. In addition, the value of both companies considerable exceeded the debt to the bank. The businessman had to cede. Later, Scandinavia insurance company (one of the assets) lost its clients and its licence, and « Western Terminal » (another asset) lost its clients and the status of a customs zone. Almost all their assets were sold. For example, Scandinavia’s real estate was bought at an auction for 10 million roubles by an obscure « Solo » LLC, former shareholder of the Bank « St Petersburg ». OMG obtained loans in several banks, including the bank « Vozrojdenie ». Differently from its colleagues from the bank “St Petersburg”, in May 2011, “Vozrojdenie” expressed its readiness to continue its cooperation with Arkhangelsky and stressed out that the parties fulfil all their undertakings and continue implementing the project with regard to the development of the infrastructure of the Port of Vyborg. It is clear that if Arkhangelsky was a dishonest man, the bank would not support him.
In the meanwhile, persecutions against Arkhangelsky, his family and his employees continued. About twenty (!) criminal cases were initiated against Arkhangelsky, his mother-in-law and his wife. On July 19, 2010, Vitaly Arkhaneglsky was put on the wanted list and Russian authorities requested his extradition.
Arkhangelsky is persuaded that Russian authorities infringed the law and, as a result, the major part of his business, including port terminals in St Petersburg, was unlawfully appropriated. The businessman denies personal responsibility for the loan amounting to almost 2.5 billion roubles (76 million USD) granted by the Bank “St Petersburg”, that his Oslo Marine Group company (OMG) was unable to pay back in the conditions of the economic crisis in 2009. All the potential of the administrative resource was used for the raiders’ attack. Persecutions were
organized against Arkhangelsky, his family members and employees of his holding. Police officers, officers of the Federal Service of Bailiffs of Justice, public prosecutor’s office and courts took part in this attack. Falsified documents were used. Unlawful searches have been carried out. There have been threats and direct violence.
Vitaly Arkhangelsky asked the French court to interrogate, in his case, the head of the Bank « St Petersburg » Alexander Savelyev, the ex-head of the GUVD of the city V.Piotrovsky, the deputy pubic prosecutor of St Petersburg A.Kikot, V. Matvienko, who was then a Governor of St Petersburg... The businessman affirms that the bank have simply appropriated his company using the administrative resource. The court of Nice joined the businessman’s request to the file. Arkhangelsky has also found defendants amoung his compatriots.
The ex-head of Nevsky district of St Petersburg Andrei Kortchagin took his side. Earlier, the ex-commissionaire for human rights in St Petersburg Igor Mikhailov stroke a blow for the businessman and ascertained the unlawfulness of searches in Arkhangelsky’s companies, the sabotage of examination of his complaints to higher instances and the reasonable nature of Vitaly Arkhangelsky’s and his family’s departure from Russia for surety reasons.
On November 10, 2011, in its first decision, the court of Aix-en-Provence explaining its refusal of extradition pointed out the existence of “serious doubts in the faireness of court proceedings initiated against Vitaly Arkhangelsky, as well in fundamental guarantees of carrying out of the acts of procedure to which he is entitled and in efficient exercise of his right of defence".
According to one of Arkhangelsky’s lawyers, William Bourdon, « the court of appeal made its decision based on general considerations with regard to the state of justice in Russia, and these considerations have not changed », but Russian authorities continue persecuting his client.
Having received the refusal of the court of appeal of Aix-en-Provence to extradite Vitaly Arkhangelsky, the Russian businessman residing in Nice, Russian authorities sent another request for extradition. W. Bourdon based his statement onon this: « the new request concerns the facts we ignore for the moment », and witness « a manifest contempt of the French court ».
In January 2011, Vitaly Arkhangelsky filed a civil claim in Nice against the Bank « St Petersburg » for « use of forged documents and attempted fraud on judgement ». Requests have been sent to the European court of human rights and to the Council of Europe.
A well-known Russian journalist and human rights defender Grigory Pasko says: «When I studies all the circumstances of the case and met those who initiated the case, bankers from the Bank St Petersburg, I wrote about my opinion about all this. In particular, I wrote that about 100 thousand persons in Russia are in prison « for economic crimes ». Since 2000, about 15% of all businessmen in Russian were subjected to criminal prosecution ».
"No other social stratum since koulaks period had not been subjected to such repressions as Russian businessmen today », - said the retired judge of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation Tamara Morschakova at the meeting of the Council of the President of the Russian federation for development of civil society and human rights on July 5, 2011. She quoted the information from data polling, according to which, in 2010, 45% of Russian businessmen stopped their activities and 52% are considering emigration or have already decided to emigrate: "this figures show clearly that it became impossible to do business in the country, and the main obstacle is the law-enforcement authorities”.
Today, the number of Russian businessmen who went abroad (fled, left on a provisional basis, waiting for extradition …) achieves tens of thousands. Vitaly Arkhangelsky is one of them.