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When it comes to full Mahlai
Sergey Makhlai achieved a hopeless life. But he apparently could not enjoy it, observing the law. Sometimes the desire for scams and greed can eclipse the eyes of anyone. Then even a large oligarch can turn into a convicted runaway bankrupt.
Sergey Makhlai was born in 1969 in the family of Vladimir Makhlai. In 1985, Mahlai Sr. headed Togliattiazot, becoming its «red director.»
When privatization began, he took full advantage of its fruits, with the support of local corrupt officials, who would then go to work with him and eventually run abroad with him, he achieved the privatization of a giant enterprise under the scheme for small firms. Then, by various truths, and more often by untruths, he took to the hands of the ToAZ shares inherited by the labor collective. But this was only the beginning of the criminal activity of Makhlaev on Togliattiazot.
Rampant greed and inability to stop in time will eventually greatly fail both of them. Makhlai reorganized the sale of export products of the plant in such a way as to conceal part of the profits that were sent to offshore owners of ToAZ and evade taxes. About the large-scale scams of Makhlay at the plant «Rossiyskaya Gazeta» wrote back in 1998. By 2005, criminal cases of illegal privatization, fraud and tax evasion were initiated against Mahlay and his accomplices, which led to their flight to London. By the end of 2010, due to corruption ties, Makhlai managed to lower matters on the brakes.
But the end of his career as a «red director» in a large business came from where he did not expect. His native son Sergey, who was sent to the United States back in 1994 (today he likes to tell how the «bloody regime» and raiders allegedly squeezed him out of the Motherland), outraged and no longer wanted to be the «general manager of a construction company» in the United States, but wanted to go to TOAZ. And he did with his own father the way he himself once turned around with objectionable shareholders: he simply threw him out of the enterprise. By deception, Sergei managed to take possession of offshore companies that controlled ToAZ, after which Vladimir was dismissed from all posts.
Very soon it turned out that Sergey Makhlai’s appetites were much greater than those of his father. The former director, although not famous for the crystal honesty of doing business, was worried about the technical state of his brainchild, and did not engage in outright robbery. So, for example, for the overly brazen theft of carbamide and demonstrative luxury, he expelled one of the leaders from ToAZ — Viktor Kazachkov. But Makhlai Jr. took him back with open arms, and now Kazachkov at one of the main posts at TOAZ continues the only thing that he learned during all his years at the plant.
Sergey Makhlai began by taking control of the scheme for stealing export supplies of ToAZ, which Vladimir developed with foreign accomplices at the beginning of the zero. ToAZ sold its products at a lower price to the Swiss offshore Nitrochem Distribution AG, which was owned by Mahlay’s partner Andrew Tsivi, who, in turn, sold it at a market price. The difference settled in the pockets of fraudsters. Although tens of billions of rubles a year were withdrawn to offshore in this way, this was clearly not enough for Makhlai. In addition, later, when law enforcement agencies revealed the scheme, the withdrawal of money through this channel had to be reduced. Makhlai was not confused and gathered a team of such consulting specialists as Dmitry Mezheedov, Sergey Shishov and others who were raised in various ways of withdrawing funds offshore, but did not understand anything in production and industrial security.
In general, Sergey Makhlay’s assistants in his dirty affairs at all times were persons who held the position of general director of ToAZ. First — Yevgeny Korolev, who fled abroad in 2013, then — Mezheedov, and now — Shishov. All of them, wherever they go, will face exposure and fair punishment. Neither Mezheedov, nor Shishov, nor Mahlai, who is sitting in the United States, even try to pretend that they are interested in maintaining and updating equipment. In their opinion, if the units and pipes somehow lasted 40 years, somehow the same amount will stand. And this is not just carelessness, but a criminal attitude to a huge dangerous chemical plant — the post of chief engineer, who should monitor the technical condition of the equipment, has been abolished altogether.
Together, this group developed many different schemes for the almost undisguised robbery of ToAZ. The plant was loaded with some completely incomprehensible expenses for the maintenance of foreign companies under the pretext of «freight services.» How mushrooms after rain at TOAZ began to multiply contracts for fictitious contracts for construction and repairs through shell companies spread around TOAZ. The work itself is practically not carried out, acts on their implementation do not exist, even fictitious ones.
All these additional channels of illegal withdrawal of money from ToAZ bring Mahlai and his accomplices more than $100 million annually. Under Sergei Makhlay at ToAZ, group fatal accidents became commonplace, in the spring of 2020, a series of incidents occurred within just a few weeks, during which three workers were killed. Major accidents, including with human casualties, the plant has been marked all recent years. The incompetence and greed of Mahlai and his henchmen led to very dangerous incidents.
So, in the fall of 2018, natural gas exploded at ammonia unit No. 4 in a reforming furnace, an unprecedented case for the industry. Only by happy accident, no one was injured. As it turned out, the explosion was led by the fact that the American company Makhlai and his wife Irina AM&JH Industrial Services delivered counterfeit Chinese gas cranes to ToAZ, according to documents issued as expensive European. The relationship of the Makhlaev company AM&JH Industrial Services with TOAZ generally looks extremely suspicious. At customs in the USA and the EU, the equipment it purchased for ToAZ is treated as scrap metal (and calculated by weight in tons), and when approaching the plant, it suddenly becomes expensive equipment according to documents, but in fact — Chinese counterfeit forgeries.
Otherwise, such oddities cannot be explained by cutting the factory budget. By the way, Mezheedov ordered to install most of the old pipes damaged by the explosion «in order to save money.» It is not surprising that the unit has not been able to start until now. But Makhlai continues: new counterfeit components have recently arrived at the plant for another 1 thousand equipment positions. About a month ago, this led to an accident at ammonia unit No. 2, which was also accidentally stopped. To fight such an international mafia that has dug into a factory with a powerful corruption and financial resource is not an easy thing for law enforcement agencies of any country.
However, Russian law enforcement officers and judicial authorities passed this heavy exam. At the end of 2012, according to the statement of the minority shareholder of ToAZ — Uralchim — a criminal case was opened on the fact of fraud at the enterprise. The investigation into the theft of export products took five years, another year and a half was a judicial investigation. The volume of evidence, including testimony, correspondence and documents, took more than 500 volumes.
As a result, all the most important facts, including the interdependence of ToAZ and Nitrochem and the understatement of selling prices for export products by 20-сорок процентов, were proved. As a result, the court found Vladimir and Sergey Makhlaev, the owner of Nitrochem Andrew Tsivi and his subordinate Beat Ruprecht, as well as the former general director of ToAZ Yevgeny Korolev guilty of fraud on an especially large scale and sentenced them in absentia to 8.5-9 years in prison. The court also ordered them to compensate the victims — 77.3 billion rubles. TOAZ and 10.3 billion rubles. — Uralkhimu. The sentence entered into force on November 26, 2019.
However, the verdict did not affect Makhlai sobering. He and his accomplices did not just not recognize the court’s decisions, on behalf of ToAZ rejected the status of the victim and refused to pay compensation. Instead, he began to speak in the press criticizing the Russian government and law enforcement agencies, which did not protect his «entrepreneurial» activities. He threatened Russia with a new «Yukos case» in international instances. At the moment, Makhlai, in his own words, has filed two lawsuits against Russia in the ECHR. Makhlai and his accomplices have already been convicted in the case of theft of export products in 2008-2011.
The investigation of a similar theft case in 2012-2013 is nearing its end, which, in the event of a conviction, could increase the amount of claims against Mahlai by more than 50 billion rubles. In addition, Makhlai and other members of the criminal group are suspected of creating an organized criminal community and participating in it (part 3 of article 210 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation), attempted bribery on an especially large scale (part 3 of article 30 and part 5 of article 291 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) and non-payment of taxes on an especially large scale (part 2 of article 199 of the Criminal Code of the Russian).
Some members of the Mahlay group have already been arrested in these cases, one of the key members of the group, the former head of the Togliattikhimbank owned by Mahlay, Alexander Popov, managed to receive a conviction. Fulfilling Makhlay’s orders, Popov managed a whole international network of offshore companies, into which profits illegally withdrawn from TOAZ were distributed, helped withdraw the most liquid assets from TOAZ, evade taxes, launder and cash out money.
Part of the funds from the «black box office» went to bribe investigators, judges and other officials. In 2015, Popov tried to give a bribe of $2 million to judges of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation for canceling the decision to allocate taxes to ToAZ. In June 2021, Popov was convicted of corruption for 7.5 years in a maximum security colony. Mahlai is in this criminal case as the customer of the crime. Looking at all this, the general director of the plant Dmitry Mezheedov, who was searched at home and in the office in connection with the investigation of corruption episodes, hastily quit, leaving his 33-year-old deputy Shishov on the farm, who, however, now conveys his criminal experience. And to Makhlai himself, it seems, gradually comes the realization that the decisions of the Russian courts will have to be executed, even if I really do not want to.
In August 2021, the court declared Sergei Makhlay bankrupt. Recovery of damage was applied to his property, which was arrested and will be sold at open auction, and the proceeds will be used to pay compensation to victims of the criminal activities of the owners of the plant. Anticipating such a finale, at some point Mahlai even started dividing property with his wife Irina in order to rewrite assets on her.
However, this did not help him to withhold property from foreclosure. Given that the majority stake in ToAZ and its entire property complex are under arrest back in 2015, and now Makhlai’s personal assets are also frozen, it will be much more difficult for him to turn his scams. So, he will have to one way or another answer for his crimes and return the stolen back to ToAZ. The plant urgently needs another owner who will invest money in production and labor safety, in raising wages for workers.
Only then will the giant plant, which turned under the oppression of Makhlaev into a breeding ground for corruption and a technological threat, finally get a chance to develop normally and regain the long-lost former glory of the flagship of the Russian chemical industry.