On this day, the conviction against Platon Lebedev was enforced by a concentrate

On this day, the conviction against Platon Lebedev was enforced by a concentrate

"He committed embezzlement to the total amount of $32 527 792.56". The episode of the misappropriation of means from the selling of apatite concentrate supplemented the case with Article 160 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. The website Prigovor.ru reminds its readers of what happened on February 17, 2004.

On this day 18 years ago, on February 17, 2004, the formula of the accusation against Platon Lebedev was enlarged with an "appetite concentrate", to be more precise, with the misappropriation of $30 million from the sales of it through sophisticated schemes with the basis of them being the artificially created price difference. According to the materials of the case, the schemes were created around the JSC “Apatit” and its products which are raw materials for the production of mineral fertilizers and other products of the chemical industry inside Russia.

(See also the article “The formula of the accusation against Platon Lebedev”).

To describe this formula roughly and briefly, it looked as follows: an organized group of persons, under the ideological leadership of Khodorkovsky and executive control of Lebedev, created around the JSC “Apatit” a scheme of controllable “firms-parasites”. It became possible after the privatization and after Khodorkovsky and Lebedev, from the position of the “main shareholders”, actually, stripped the management of the company“ of the possibility to independently dispose of the products of the company, it means, they had to sell it only the way they were told by the “main shareholders”.


The functions of the firm-parasites, or, as it was said in the case, “the nominal participants of the scheme”, included formalizing on its own account part of the products of the JSC “Apatit” at the maximum lowered price. Then came a resell of the same concentrate of apatite at a higher price to factories-consumers. Thereat, the “firms-parasites” were registered in the zones of preferential tax treatment, for instance, in Kalmykia. And employees, being workers of the JSC “Apatit”, were occupied only with formalizing of deals on paper, and, besides, they did it right on their main place of work – in the JSC “Apatit”, i.e. at the expense of the company. Some firms even did not have their own offices, not to mention facilities for preloading-loading-delivering.

The fact was that the JSC “Apatit” with its own facilities was occupied with logistics. But such shell firms with extremely “privileged” prices were called “parasites” not only because of that. Moreover, factories-producers, which without raw material would simply stand still, tried to buy them directly from the JSC "Apatit" but were insistently redirected to the firms-parasites. Witnesses pointed at that during the court proceedings. The enterprises tried to buy the products of "Apatit" without intermediaries, at normal prices, in order to hold the prices of their own products at an acceptable for the market level and "with the purpose of possible cost-cutting of the production".

Chemical industry – it's huge factories, but a limited circle of specialists where everybody knows each other and is in contact with each other. It turned out that in the industry no production factory could buy raw materials directly from the JSC “Apatit”, and everyone was directed to intermediaries. Some were forced to act according to the scheme “production on the side” and received the apatite concentrate from the shell companies CJSC “Apatit-Trade”, JSC “Agrokhimkorporaziya” and JSC “Forsmarket”.

From the materials of the case:

"Kraynov A.V., acting at the behest of Lebedev P.L. and Khodorkovsky M.B. whom he was subordinated in connection with his work in the joint-venture "RTT", being the deputy executive director of the mentioned joint-venture, organized actions of employees of the joint-venture "RTT" under his control with regard to carrying out of finance and promissory notes operations on behalf of shell commercial organizations and directed at the realization of the mentioned above scheme of selling the products of the JSC "Apatit". The submission to control of the shell enterprises – JSC "Fostreid", JSC "Formarket", JSC "Agrokhimtreid", JSC Agrokhimkorporatsia", CJSC "Gorkhimprom", JSC "Torgovy Dom Fosfatov", JSC "Varuag" – to Kraynov A.V., Lebedev P.L., and Khodorkovsky M.B. is corroborated by numerous documents. The fictitious character of the intermediary firms was established by way of questioning "directors".

So, according to the evidence of the citizen M., the general director of the JSC "Fostreid", until assuming this position, had worked as a salesman and driver. At entry into the position of the “general director”, he was told about the sphere of his responsibilities – to come to work one time a week to sign already prepared documents. While signing, he "did not enter into details of documents”. Apart from him, there was another employee of the firm  who dealt with “correspondence via e-mail”.


Apart from that, the "robber-barons" had a way out abroad. According to the materials of the case, the JSC "Apatit-Treid" had also foreign companies, in particular, "Apatit Fertilaizers S.A." and “Polifert AG, c/o Seestaat AG”, the turn over with which was big, although the company “Apatit-Treid” had only two employees – a general director and a secretary.

(See also the article “How the new Russian oil kings created a secret finance empire in Geneva”.

“In November 1997, a shell company “Apatit Fertilaizers S.A.” was created (account No 0251-654879, bank Credit Suisse), the purpose of which was to receive the apatite concentrate at understated prices and sell it to customers at inflated prices. The received value difference between the products value of the JSC “Apatit” at cost price and the money of the factual realization remained abroad, on accounts of the shell company under control of Lebedev P.L. and Khodorkovsky M.B. and members of the organized group, who converted it for their own use”, pointed out the investigation stressing that “Menatep” stands behind the firm.

According to the materials of the case, the work abroad was being made at an accelerated tempo.

“As of June 2003, in the existing structure of the Mineral group, the company “Appatit Fertilaizers S.A” belonged to 50% to the group of the shareholders of the company “Group Menatep” (Khodorkovsky, Lebedev, Nevzlin, Dubov, Brudno, Shakhnovsky, Golubovich) and a group of shareholders of “Phosco Industries”. 

“Lebedev P.L., acting as part of the organized group, as well as other members, provided the handing over of products of the JSC "Apatit", under the guise of sales and purchase transactions, to intermediaries under their control, which were the shell companies "Apatit-Treid", "Apatit Traid", CJSC "Gorkhimprom", JSC "Varyag", JSC "Fostreid", Swiss companies "Apatit Fertilaizers S.A." and "Polyfert AG, c/o Seestatt AG", as well as other companies, at understated prices – not more than 30-40 U.S. dollars for one metrical ton. Then, the mentioned companies were selling apatite concentrate to foreign enterprises at the price from 40 up to 78.5 U.S, dollars for one metric ton.

The description of the machinations, names of firms, indication of itineraries of products to customers, numbers of contracts, and, finally, witnesses’ evidence and accounts on which the price difference was siphoned, all this, in its totality, allowed to make conclusions that the "mineral” affairs of Lebedev and  Khodorkovsky deserve a separate Article of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

“On the whole, Lebedev, by way of misappropriation, has committed embezzlement to the total amount of 32 527 792.56 U.S. dollars, including together with Khodorkovsky M.B. – 2 831 302.25 U.S. dollars”, has it the resume of the episode under Article 160 of the Criminal Code of the Russian federation.

"Having considered the materials of the case, in May 2005, the Meschansky Court of Moscow held this episode as proved and sentences Lebedev under the mentioned Article to 7 years in prison", notes the website Prigovor.ru.

(See also the previous article “On this day, an anti-Russian “soap opera” was played out in Switzerland”. «Proactive» lawyers in Geneva demanded the cessation of the juridical cooperation between Switzerland and Russia. The website Prigovor.ru reminds its readers of what happened on February 16, 2005.

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