Zhelezko "forges" his Da Vinci
Details of the activities of the "muddy" company named Da Vinci Capital of Oleg Zhelezko were revealed. How is the supply of Crimean grain to Syria related to the Calvey case and what does Pavel Durov have to do with it?
The Da Vinci Capital international investment fund became known to the general public after it announced in March that it intended to file a lawsuit against Telegram and claim damages for the TON project. As it turned out, this story is not the only reason to pay attention to the activities of the fund. However, as it turned out, this is not the only thing that interests Da Vinci Capital, which is run by a British citizen. According to The Moscow Post, the fund was involved in the supply of Crimean grain to Syria and is now under prosecution by British regulators.
Da Vinci Capital is an asset management company founded by Oleg Zhelezko in 2007. It specializes in direct investments in fast-growing mid-cap companies in Russia and Central and Eastern Europe. The Da Vinci Capital Group includes several funds.
High technology is not the only area of interest of the fund. Da Vinci Capital’s business also includes such conservative industries as agriculture. At the same time, transactions in this industry, as it turned out, were made by the fund in circumvention of EU and US legislation.
At the disposal of Lenta.ru there were documents showing that Da Vinci Capital, which is the majority participant of the ITI Asset Management holding company, ITI Funds, the Castle Rock company and a number of other structures, controlling 100 percent of the share in the authorized capital of ITI Commodities, provided the Slavyanskiy Export company with financing in US dollars for the purchase of grain in the Crimea and its subsequent delivery, including to Syria, through the port of Sevastopol and, moreover, it bought the rights to claim a number of contracts for delivery to Libya through the port of Sevastopol from Slavyansk Export.
Meanwhile, the last shipment of grain purchased in the Crimea to Libyan partners through the Euro Comm company in the summer of 2020, according to the documents, was sanctioned, financed and controlled personally by a British citizen Oleg Zhelezko, who by that time was reliably informed about this business.
Consequently, Da Vinci Capital used Slavyanskiy Export to supply grain to Syria through the port of Sevastopol, disregarding the sanctions provided both by the US Congress, which prohibits payments for such activities in US dollars, and the EU government, which does not recognize Crimea as the territory of Russia. According to Oleg Zhelezko himself, said in an interview with Forbes: "those investors who like to invest in both the venture market and the financial market, find their tools, they take on political risks, other risks and, accordingly, try to make money."
The Da Vinci Capital fund also has problems in the UK. According to British press reports, he owns a majority stake in ITI Capital, which in its turn bought the business from the British SVS Securities investment company. About £278 million of SVS cash and assets were transferred to ITI in June, after the regulator closed the business about a year earlier. Customers were told they would be able to get their money back by July 24, but this did not happen. Citywire publication wrote that "SVS Securities customers are still trying to get their money back seven months after it was transferred to ITI Capital."
According to Times, customer calls simply stopped being answered. As a result, in December, the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) banned ITI from accepting money from new customers.
Grain storage in the Sevastopol Bay
The ShareSoc investor protection group formed the SVS customer support group in 2020. In September, ShareSoc director Mark Bentley called the situation "scandalous" and actually accused the FCA of the fact that "the transfer of the asset to a murky Russian broker that seems unable to offer an acceptable level of service" was approved..
What does Calvey have to do with it?
Exactly the same manner of conducting business is attributed to the Da Vinci Capital fund in Russia. For example, the Banksta telegram channel, describing the activities of bankers, calls the managing partner of Da Vinci Capital Oleg Zhelezko "involved in fraud and embezzlement in the Vostochny bank and guilty of the detention of Michael Calvey."
Recall that the international investor, founder and managing partner of the private equity fund Baring Vostok Capital Partners, specializing in investments in Russia and the CIS countries, Michael Calvey was detained in February 2019 on suspicion of embezzling funds of the Vostochny bank in the amount of 2.5 billion rubles, and in April of the same year was sent under house arrest. The investigation then believed that Calvey and his business partners convinced the shareholders of Vostochny Bank to vote for the conclusion of an agreement on compensation, on the basis of which, instead of paying back the debt, 59.9 percent of the shares of International Financial Technology Group (IFTG), estimated at three billion rubles at a real value of 600 thousand, were transferred to Vostochny. But according to the lawyers of the accused, the market value of the disputed package of securities is not 600 thousand rubles, but 3.8 billion.
At the end of 2016, IFTG’s net assets reached $37 million, net profit — $22.7 million, and its beneficiary at that time was the founder of the Da Vinci Capital Fund Oleg Zhelezko. Before the deal with the bank, Da Vinci Capital owned 40.1 percent of IFTG shares. In 2019, after the arrest of Michael Calvey, both Zhelezko, to whom journalists had many questions, and representatives of the foundation refused to comment on the situation to the media.
Koen van Weel
In November 2020, after the conclusion of a settlement agreement with the bank by the decision of the Supreme Court, Calvey and other defendants in the case were released from house arrest. The trial continues, but none of them pleads guilty.
It is worth noting that this case has caused a great international response, and many Russian politicians and entrepreneurs have come out in support of Michael Calvey, in the detention of whom Banksta accuses the British citizen Oleg Zhelezko. So, according to Oleg Tinkov, the founder of Tinkoff Bank, he "has known Michael Calvey for over 20 years and has not met a more professional and honest investor in Russia." And Yandex founder Arkady Volozh noted that Calvey and Baring Vostok "have always been the standard of decency and legality for the market."
Return the investment
And, finally, the activities of the structures of Zhelezko also affected the business empire of Pavel Durov. After the US authorities banned the TON blockchain project, which was implemented on Durov’s Telegram platform, it failed. However, he managed to collect $1.7 billion of investments before the lockdown. As a result, the Disruptive Era Fund, recently managed by Da Vinci Capital, sent a notice to the founder of Telegram that it plans to sue TON and Telegram in London with a demand to compensate for the loss of $20 million.
Commenting on the media claims of Da Vinci Capital to Telegram for compensation, the Alpari information and analytical centre was surprised by such actions of the fund. According to Vladislav Antonov, an analyst at Alpari, "a year has passed, and only now the investors of the Da Vinci Capital fund have demanded compensation. Why in 2021?" Analyst "is sure that there is another aim behind this claim. There is an assumption that someone wanted to get a share in Telegram, and TON is just a reason for lawsuits."
According to Delovoy Peterburg, "threats were received only from one investor — Disruptive Era Funds (DEF), which is managed by Da Vinci Capital." At the same time, lawyers from the American company Skadden, according to the source of the publication in Telegram, "believe that these claims have little chance of success, since both the costs and the risks of investments were clearly outlined in the contract."
Never ends well
At the disposal of the Krot Durova telegram channel there appeared an agreement between the investors of TON and Telegram. One of the key points of the agreement allowed Telegram to close the TON project at any time, returning only the remaining money to investors, and not one hundred percent of their investments. This was done in relation to the Disruptive Era Fund — it received 72 percent of its investments in May 2020.
It is noteworthy that TON investors were also asked to convert their investments into a loan and receive 110 percent of the initial investment on April 30, 2021, instead of 72 percent. The VTimes publication wrote that Telegram had concluded such loan agreements with investors for a total of $448 million. According to the Krot Durova channel, Da Vinci Capital refused to provide a loan to Telegram and receive 110 percent of the investment. However, a year later, it expressed its intention to fight in court for a chance to get 100 percent.
According to Head of the Analytical Department of AMarkets Artyom Deev, "due to the unprofessional behavior of such players, people like Pavel Durov, who inspire confidence among international investors, may refuse money from any Russian funds altogether in the future ."
In the end, it remains unclear what Da Vinci Capital sought with its claim to Telegram — to return the lost opportunity to earn extra money on investments in the project or to create a loud "informational reason", the discussion of which will distract from the really important problems of the company.