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Trefilov and the media

About his Wealth

George Trefilov is a former president and owner of Marta Holding. After the initiation of criminal proceedings against him, under Article 159 Part 4 "Fraud" in 2010, he escaped from Russia to the UK. In 2012 Trefilov won the court case on his extradition, but was soon arrested at Gatwick Airport while trying to enter the country using a false passport. In the end he received 1.8 years of probation.

Assessment of Trefilov’s financial state in various sources: the Daily Mail calls him the “Retail Tycoon” with a net worth of 450 million pounds. At the same time BBC Russian Service names him a successful businessman with a 79th position in Forbes top 100 Richest Russian businessmen for the year of 2011. The Times tells a similar story, but is it all true?

Why would Georgy Trefilov need a fake rating?

 

Official max estimates of Trefilov’s net worth:
Indeed, in 2007 the magazine "Finance" stated Trefilov’s value at 680 million dollars. (before deducting debts)

 

In the same year magazine Forbes, in the 200 largest private companies list, shows revenue of "Marta" Holding for the year 2007 as 540 million dollars. Just before going bankrupt the holding occupied position 117 in the rankings. In 2008 Trefilov was unable to pay for his obligations, which resulted in said bankruptcy.   

In 2013, Trefilov himself, in a public interview, claimed the value of his company before the bankruptcy as 45-50 billion rubles (about 900 million pounds).

Official confirmation of this assessment does not exist, and earlier sources deny it more than twice over. In addition, according to the estimates of Raiffeisenbank and Uralsib in 2007, the Marta Holding showed clear signs of a financial pyramid.

No existing international or Russian rating has ever assessed Trefilov to be worth more than 18 billion rubles (350 million pounds).

Trefilov’s debts and mistakes from Uralsib review

Analysis of Raiffeisen Bank for 2005-2006 here and for 2006-2007 here.
See p. 6, 12, more details on p.44 and p.45.

Trefilov’s debts and mistakes from "Finance" magazine

After year having awarded Trefilov the 79th place in the rating of Russian billionaires for the year of 2007 (the only time when Trefilov placed in the rankings), the publication "Finance"  later wrote about all the major causes of bankruptcy and financial failure of George Trefilov as a businessman in an article called "The March misadventures". Among other things, the magazine has included huge debts, the conflict with M. Vasiliev, the revaluation (at an inflated price) of assets and the "non-transparency" of Trefilov’s businesses. 
"Finance" # 21 (256) June 2 - June 8, 2008

 

Below we publish the ratings as well as publications about the net worth of Trefilov in 2007-2008 from the magazines "Finance" and Forbes and show for comparison interviews Trefilov gave to the media, based on which this material was written.

Holding MARTA before its "departure" held 145th place in the Forbes Russia nonpublic companies ranking for 2008. The bankruptcy occurred 2 months after.

The rating of bankrupt millionaires from the Finance magazine for 2008-2009. Trefilov takes the 7th place, 3 places ahead of Sergei Mavrodi (financial pyramid MMM).

Nevertheless, the western media continues to make other conclusions, insisting that the bankrupt Trefilov even now is still a wealthy businessman, who was illegally persecuted in Russia and currently possesses serious assets and hundreds of trading platforms. Note that these assumptions were made while referring to unsubstantiated data and questionable defenders.

 

Double Standards

 

Shortly after his release from the Lewis city prison in March 2013, Trefilov gave several large interviews to Russian and British media. According to him, "after a long period of silence" he decided to "clarify things and tell the truth" - to tell about the true causes of his bankruptcy, his life before and after the "big business". The truth turned out to be not always convincing, but quite politically correct. 

  

Media Virus! Trefilov was not 79th in Forbes top 100 for 2011. Trefilov never even entered the Forbes top 100 list.

Forbes Russia TOP 100 richest people in Russia for 2011 - the 79th place belongs not to Georgy Trefilov, but Andrei Kosogov, "Alfa-Bank" shareholder.

While explaining to the International news that everything written about him in the last 5-6 years was no more than "dirt and untruth", Trefilov presents the now popular among scammers tale of bankruptcy. According to it Trefilov is a victim - honest businessman who simply was not allowed to live and work in his own country. It is possible to verify if this is true, by carefully reading what he said in 2013 and familiarising yourself with the materials presented on this site.
   
Trefilov’s baseline for arguments: Allegedly corrupt investigating authorities opened a criminal case not on lawful grounds, but “on request" by raiders (raiding – an unscrupulous practice in Russia where a business is taken over by force). Huge unpaid bank loaned funds embezzled for years (!) by Trefilov’s top management (which he, President of the Holding, was unaware of for a long time). And then, at the moment deciding the fate of his business, bribed lawyers and company managers artificially "foiled" the big deal for sale of the main asset (Grossmart network), resulting in bankruptcy.

Noteworthy here would be the “for BBC version ", where Trefilov blames Russia for his misery (its structure, literally “forcing” to commit crimes, "the absence of a legitimate base" for business, greedy managers, officials “on the spot inventing their own laws ", crisis , etc.) . This position is taken by many fugitives and has proven to be especially effective for those hiding in UK.
Of the western partners Trefilov does not say a word. In the version for the RBC daily newspaper and TV program of A. Mamontov ("On the run") - the "raider seizure" is done in the interests of the Western partner, explaining why the "deal was broken” with him.

Without delving further, we can assume that the unfortunate businessman simply selects "convenient" versions for different audiences. What may seem plausible for ignorant in matters of business compatriots, could cause doubts and negative reaction in the International media like the BBC, the Daily Mail or the Times.

After all, the outdated and dubious information about former "great riches" of the King of supermarkets is based on his own words and ratings made by recently closed publications ("Finance" ceased to exist in 2011). Additionally, Marta Holding has never gone public, i.e. its actual financial performance was “classified information”. All of it put together does not give the necessary weight for Trefilov in the eyes of the British public.  

So it is quite dangerous to risk throwing accusations in UK, considering he already has a "tarnished" reputation due to a criminal record. Lies would inevitably collide with the authority and reputation of REWE and SPAR corporations, with whom Trefilov worked at different times, and naturally cause a negative response from society and new problems too.

Besides, he would lose his serious social trump card: in Europe Trefilov as a businessman is known only thanks to this cooperation (SPAR Group from 2001 to 2004, where it was discontinued due to serious disagreements with his partner) and the co-ownership of company BILLA Russia from 2004 to 2008.

 Another fundamental inconsistency: in interviews with international press Trefilov prefers to remain silent about the fact that, since the launch of his company in 1992 and up until its bankruptcy in 2008-2009, his whole business sustained itself solely through attracting large bank loans. But in Russia it is easy to discuss this topic. When talking to RBC daily’s A. Levinskaya he recounts not only that his business was completely indebted with loans, but that the deal itself, with the German REWE partner in 2004, was required "exclusively to get the ticket to cheap capital". He also recalls the total investment in Marta's business - $ 350 million worth of credit funds (note that with BBC these details are carefully avoided by Trefilov).

 

About his competence

 

Furthermore, to the Russian media the earlier "bribed management and lawyers" become just "inexperienced" and ignorant. Following is a quote from RBC daily - Trefilov: “My lawyers, unfortunately, were very inexperienced. They did not find the many traps hidden within the contract [with REWE]. Later on we realized that the agreement was not in our favor”. This was followed by complaints about "the lack of support” from the German partner: "I had hoped that REWE would send in highly professional managers to streamline the business processes and make my company more profitable" (in other words, cheap loans and professionals from Europe were to save Trefilov’s company from existing financial woes? The Germans were the ones to end up with a “cat in the bag”, as can be seen from publications at that time... As early as 2006 rumours started to circulate the retail market that representatives from REWE expressed doubts about the Russian partner, due to the large volume of its debts and investment obligations.
 
Aside from that, Trefilov signed the contract with the REWE Group himself. The contract’s details had been prescribed with all the conditions and obligations of the parties, including those that Trefilov personally violated at a later date. This begs the question: To what extent were his lawyers (and himself, a businessman with a 12-year track record with previous foreign deals) "inexperienced", if it was not understood that his assumptions about cooperation may differ from the actual conditions negotiated and signed in the "Framework Agreement of Intent" from 2004? Apparently, the answer was already given - "ticket to cheap capital" resolved all doubts... 

At the beginning of cooperation between Marta and REWE, thanks to the bigger partner’s involvement, there was influx of some of the largest loans provided by European banks in the Russian retail market, which were set at a European interest rate and with a term of 12 years (Raiffeisenbank, Austria). It was obvious that the cooperation was especially favourable towards Trefilov.

One more citation from RBC: "... We were sent reports done using German Accounting Standards, which no one understood, and that made business completely opaque for me". It is necessary to explain the following: the main business of the JV was conducted by companies in Russia (LLC "Billa", LLC "Billa Realty", LLC "ReMa Immobilien"), created in Russia according to the legislation of the Russian Federation... Accordingly, accounting in them was carried out to the Russian Accounting Standards.

And even assuming that the co-owner of the business top management would not send (?) intelligible accounting reports, under the legislation of the Russian Federation, he could have easily requested it from the statistical agencies...

As can be seen, Trefilov demonstrates blatant disregard for even the quality of his excuses, imagine what he did with other people's money? It turns out that a large company, numbering some 10,000 employees, had no opportunity to find the necessary specialists in the field of international law, auditing and consulting… 

But REWE, as an international company, was obliged under EU directives to provide consolidated IFRS statements every six months, certified by auditors of the Big Four. In connection with the above, REWE’s partner (Trefilov) is simply obliged to have staff of high-level professionals. 

To hold such a position for the President and Beneficiary of a diversified holding is rather surprising. How, in this case, was the joint venture created and how did it work and conduct deals, which attracted huge sums of money over the years?

Objectively, these "facts" are impossible to believe, because the legal form of a Joint Venture (JV) with a foreign partner requires a developed structure and legally transparent documentation, subject to following certain standards and having regular joint audit. Complex activities of such an enterprise can not be conducted in the absence of a competent base structure.

Meanwhile, this particular JV worked for almost 5 years... And it is worth recalling that in the interviews of 2005-2007 Trefilov himself often emphasized that he was confident in himself, as a manager, and in its management, in fact insisting that his company is ready for the most ambitious projects

 

Trefilov ran active PR-campaigns in Russia from 2005 to 2007, during a period of particularly active lending and when one of the business structures entered IPO (in 2007).

And which of his claims is to be considered false, and which is true? It is obvious, at the very least, that the "successful", if not "super successful" position was demonstrated during the active lending period, and now, when it came time to pay the bills, in all senses, he is but a graduate of Bauman, who can’t make heads or tails of the situation.

So, we can assume that George Trefilov is deliberately trying not to look like a serious businessman for RBC, unlike what he wants to show himself as in the BBC studio. Apparently, the Russian version of the PR-scenario assumes that Trefilov poorly understood what he did, was not fully aware of the consequences for his actions, did not delve into the operations of the business, lacked in courage. This reasoning entails that he could have been deceived... (QED - Victim).

 And all his "confessions" made to RBC pursue, as it seems, one goal - to convince that he was mislead. Otherwise what is the alternative to explain this attitude to his own CEO duties, which from his words were done by a few managers, who controlled the Holding and carried out work in his absence for over 5 years (?).

“No luck” with partners (although, Trefilov himself admitted that the deal with REWE in 2004 "allowed to pay back the accumulated debts for that time in the amount of 100 million euros"); supposedly unacceptable for Trefilov "contract - trap" was impossible to cancel or challenge on the "unfair terms", and so he "could only wait for developments...” Finally, why is it that the allegedly “paid-off" employees and illiterate lawyers could not be changed?

Coming back to the BBC, we find another contradiction: the transaction for the Grossmart sale in 2008, which is so important for Trefilov, at least according to the Russian version, for some reason did not require presence of international lawyers. "We do not do that when it concerns your partner," - explained Trefilov to O. Antonenko. Supposedly, it would have been awkward... And only after two months, reading the Russian newspaper RBC daily, we learn of apparent "tensions rising" in the relationship with REWE and how high, it turns out, was the level of "distrust" towards the partner after the conclusion of the first contract in 2004 (see interview).

Finally, according to his explanations, the most important decisions about the company were made in the absence of the CEO (source - RBC). 
We would like to recall that we are talking about attracting tens and hundreds of millions in dollar and euro credit! Furthermore, Trefilov was the sole guarantor for all of the loans, since he was the face of the company. Thus, Trefilov’s stories are full of incompetence, ostentatious "helplessness" and contradictions. At the same time, his role as organizer and leader of the informally created holding "Marta" and illegal receipt of funds from banking institutions was established back in 2009. 

This gross mismatch between the stated personas: one a major player in the Russian retail market, the King of retail, if you may, and the other a billionaire with wild "revelations"; it clearly indicates a policy of high risks undertaken by the ex-head of "Marta”, collectively identifying and confirming the true causes of his bankruptcy.

 

Throwing dust in the eyes

 

We return to the BBC once more. At the beginning of the interview Trefilov indicates the lack of motive for him to commit the crime of which he is accused, i.e. embezzlement. Quote: "The whole motivation is not clear: why would I steal a billion rubles from my company to lose 45 or 50 billion?" We will remind you that the official data, which could confirm his words, does not exist. But the main point is not even that.

 The favourable assessment of his own business does not stop Trefilov from immediately switching to talking about his unbearable situation, about the fact that “he did not expect to create a machine that would crush him too”. He describes the corruption within the company and all around it, the huge costs, and the complete absence of profit since 2006, an overall situation of a large-scale collapse for the business. He practically admits to BBC about creating a pyramid scheme, thus destroying his own arguments: “The public company was on a path to bankruptcy from the moment when banks began to ask for early repayment of loans…”

So, by the time of the next payment to banks the Company had no surplus, and it only existed through borrowed funds. While explaining to RBC daily the decision made in 2007 to sell the main asset, Trefilov also does not hide the fact that the business was unprofitable even before the onset of the global financial crisis: "Since 2006 I have not seen any profits at all" and the Company’s position was in a stalemate.

Because of the “difficult” for Trefilov position in 2007, he decided to sell the primary asset, the network of supermarkets "Grossmart", to his competitor... just for 350 million euros. And observe that this figure suited him just fine, he called it “decent”, although it is hardly comparable to the evaluation of assets at 1.4 billion euros and simultaneously speaks directly about possible losses (remember that at the time the investment was 350 million dollars’ worth of credit with interest, and about 10,000 employees were receiving their salaries...), we had to maintain huge leased areas for Grossmart - 165 000 square meters, as well as pay their rent.The upgrading of each shop cost RBC at least $ 200,000 in 2006, according to Trefilov, with a low profitability of the many Grossmart shoppingareas that were located in the Russian regions with low-income population.

To help the entangled logic certain facts come to light - in 2008, among other years, there was a default on bonds for a non-payment of 155 million rubles! After that, developer of the main asset belonging to "Marta" holding (Grossmart network), company "Elekskor” appealed to the Tribunal with a statement on the initiation of bankruptcy. Later on the creditor banks appealed to the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, and in 2010 Trefilov ran. Now according to him - from the "werewolves" (from a Russian idiom: werewolves in epaulettes - cops who are secretly engaged in criminal dealings) and because "he is no hero", but the motive...?

Incidentally, the same "competitor-buyer" never told the media about its possible acquisition of the "Grossmart" network from Trefilov. Trefilov himself with pleasure would constantly repeat the famous names, apparently, in order to "bolster the evidence" about the liquidity and value of the objects to be sold.

Was there motive or intent to steal funds from the banking institutions by Trefilov – is a question left to the competent authorities. Court hearings in the case of Trefilov are still continuing. Let us for clarity give one more fact. In 2008 Trefilov personally obtained a loan of 700 million rubles in Sviaz-bank, for which, according to the court, he never made any repayment of interest and principal. In the end Trefilov predictably avoided this judicial inquiry as well.

 

About Liability

 

In RBC Trefilov gives some very detailed, at times self-revelatory answers about the causes of bankruptcy for "Marta”. Answers that are highly questionable in terms of excuses and densely saturated with facts of gross violations of Russian legislation. Answers that are a lot closer to being unfounded attempts at blaming third parties for what happened and transferring on them all of the responsibility.

It is surprising that, while Trefilov publicly admits to his own criminal schemes, he himself does not seem to fully understand the meaning and the legal status of actions performed by him, because he refuses to recognize civil liability (although the key points of the charges were explained to him, he says to RBC and BBC: "I was charged as a business owner ").

Despite the obvious absurdity – Trefilov stays consistently blameless. However, a lot of what he absolutely voluntarily told the media about his business setup is typical for a criminal case fraudster or a corrupt official in any country.

From the interviews it shows that the main events that occurred after the "big business" – Trefilov’s escape from investigation in Russia, the use of a false passport in the UK, episodes of corruption with his participation, about which he gladly tells all over the media; evasion of debt repayments, all of this - he committed through the fault of circumstances, or in anticipation of gain, or out of fear. The expression - "I had to" is too often found in his speeches, a somewhat atypical explanation for a wealthy man.

Quite a few "feats" for the innocent and honest man - the more so because in his stories there is not one episode where he would not act according to the law or in the interests of legality, rather than his own.

 

Without a face

 

Having complained enough to the BBC Russian Service about "illegitimate Russia", Trefilov points out that in Britain it is for "the first time in several decades that he lives absolutely legitimately (?)". To the question of the TV show host O. Antonenko about future plans in May 2013, Trefilov confidently says that he not only has business plans in the UK, but also charitable projects. Quote: “If I start living here soon, then business (what kind? still a secret). There are some charitable projects, but first comes business. One needs to earn money for the family. "

After two (!) months, for Russian RBC daily to the same question made by correspondent A. Levinskaya, the answer turned out to be a lot less cheerful : "Business here, in the UK, I can not conduct, because first I need to resolve the issue with my past problems, especially with my reputation. So far I'm not sure I want to do business abroad; I do not see myself as a businessman here. Above all, I want to regain the opportunity go back to Russia, it is - my homeland... I am forced to do consulting for companies here in England. It is a very small business, but it allows you to exist. "

Based on these words, conducting a "conceptual business", where "input – ruble, output - two" is much more convenient, more profitable and easier. Then what about "... The best people who are forced to leave from Russia to England or to somewhere around the world ... those that are either forced to leave or they decide to do so themselves?” Maybe it's not about Russia or Britain, but rather the "best people", such as Trefilov?

After another two months (October 2013), in a three-minute story on the TV program of A. Mamontov "Special Correspondent. Fugitives" Trefilov and his wife say that they have no home in Britain, or even a car: "We went to bed billionaires and woke up almost beggars "- complains Y. Trefilova. This program talked about the criminals that fled to the West and the withdrawal of capital from Russia.

When compared to the "big fish" - officials, oligarchs, businessmen, his longtime friend Polonsky and former City managers - Trefilov played the role of an "accidentally" caught in difficult circumstances, almost ordinary man... For those who do not know all of the circumstances and Trefilov personally, are not familiar with his case and do not read about it, and are not involved in business personally (such is the vast majority not only in Britain, but in Russia also), to them everything looks exactly as described above. So he continues his play – a man with double standards, without a clear occupation and social life – a man "without a face" who solves problems of his reputation...   

 All words and quotations marked in "italics" are direct quotes from Trefilov to the media.

                            

20.12.2013

Trefilov’s false alibi. Evidence presented in the Judgement of the High Court of London and the next article.

 

JUBILEE

04.07.2014

10 YEARS LATER

 

One of the largest retail networks – BILLA (fourth in size among commercial companies in Europe) soon will be celebrating its 1st jubilee – in September 2014 it will be 10 years since it has entered the Russian market. Russia has long been 1st amongst priority markets for the REWE International AG, providing the group with high indicators of growth and profit.

Officially REWE’s entrance into the Russian market was earlier, more specifically on 4th July 2004, when the Framework Agreement with MARTA Holding was signed, which talks of the BILLA brand becoming a part of the Russian retail market.

The point of these agreement was the creation of the Joint Venture BILLA Russia, whose main goal would be to develop and support the chain of supermarkets.

Seeing as the 1st BILLA store in Russia was opened on autumn of 2004 in Moscow – 5th September is considered to be the official date for the entry of the Austrian concern REWE into the retail market.

Over the 10 years, thanks to highly professional business development strategies, good management, rich range of quality goods and attractive prices, BILLA stores have won the recognition of Russian consumers, securing a firm position in the food retail sector and showing high growth pace.

The company actively participates in ecological programmes and also runs charity campaigns in Russia.

Despite a rocky and scandalous start of the project with the MARTA Holding, already in 2006 the concern was firmly on an independent development path, with a strategy of steady and incremental growth: limiting themselves to no more than 10-15 stores a year, situated mostly in the Moscow region (within 450 km from Moscow). 

This strategy has justified itself – since 2004 the number of BILLA stores in Russia has expanded to 100, with a noticeable increase in sales: according to official records, the revenue from Russian stores has gone up from 500 million euros in 2011 to 640 million euros in 2012.

 

Why did MARTA and REWE part ways?

 

At the same time, REWE’s first Russian partner in the retail market – ex-president of the MARTA Holding Georgy Trefilov, chose the path of aggressive regional expansion, buying through credit and issued bonds up to 50 stores a year, while simultaneously acquiring huge leased areas in remote regions of Russia for the new outlets. 

Heads of REWE always disapproved of such a thoughtless and presumptuous development considering it too prone to risk as well as expensive (thus meaning – unprofitable). They preferred a stable expansion to the megalomania and unclear steps in taking over the market.

Due to rising disagreements and high debt pressure on Trefilov’s business, by autumn 2006 REWE began operating without MARTA, announcing their future plans to open a second range of stores separate from BILLA. In order to realise this plan they were going to open a network of small wholesale “cash and carry” stores with the brand SELGROS.

This plan was implemented in 2008.

In their statements to press, even before the start of the project, it was pointed out that this endeavour did not involve MARTA Holding.

Later on there were other large scale projects done without MARTA Holding - for example, in 2012 BILLA bought the Russian retailer “Citistor” (which was a part of the former “Ramstor” retail network), etc.

While this was happening Trefilov became focussed with the development of the Grossmart network and preparing JSC RTM (together with E. Vyrypaev in 2006) for its IPO debut. He was desperate for pure clean capital for his business development and used any means to gain additional cash flow.

Concerning Austrian partner’s refusal to cooperate in the development and expansion of the Grossmart project, in early 2006 Trefilov gave a detailed and frank explanation in a TV show “Persona” Georgy Trefilov – President of MARTA Holding, which was shown on RBK-TV (the full version of the interview can be found here).

In the story Trefilov told to RBK’s reporter Irina Komarova it was explicitly stated that the regional network Grossmart will be developed by MARTA Holding, independently from its western partners.

Aside from Trefilov’s usual audacious statements, he gave other reasons for such a decision – REWE’s directors had no interest in the regional expansion due to caution: the then lack of secure and qualified human personnel in regional development for the German side was the initial cause for the refusal to participate in Trefilov’s proposed project.

The point at which REWE would enter the regional area, from the words of Trefilov, was NO LESS THAN 5 YEARS away. Thus, according to the personal statement of Trefilov, EARLIER THAN 2011 Grossmart would not be even hypothetically considered by REWE as a possible investment.

Moreover, in 2 years Trefilov increased the number of Grossmart stores to 189 (including 138 that were rented out by him). Concern-giant REWE has not made any deals in Russia even close to that scale yet, and the German businessmen would never take such massive leaps.

More importantly, from the interview to RBK in 2006 it becomes clear that Trefilov knew about the situation from the beginning and so he continued the development of the Grossmart project at his own risk, assuming that with time the worth of the regional developments and their standardization would greatly increase. Trefilov maintained that he did not want to miss the opportunity to occupy the regional areas, while the “entry fee” was still relatively cheap.

Once the recent world financial crisis hit (literally a year and a half later), having realised his serious strategic error in clearly speculative expectations, he decides to pass on the responsibility for his mistakes on business partners. Also at this point he starts to repeatedly and publically distort the details of the agreements in regards to the Grossmart network.

 

 

The risk and consequences.

And so in 2008, amidst the economic crisis, G. Trefilov and the company that belongs to him announce bankruptcy after being unable to cope with the volume of their credit obligations.

Following this were long and arduous lawsuits, with the ex-president of MARTA Holding having criminal cases made against him. (Articles 176 and 159 of the Russian Criminal Code)

In 2010 Trefilov leaves Russia, avoiding the investigation as well as the civil lawsuits, and as a result he is now part of the internationally wanted list. In 2013 he was tried and conditionally sentenced to 18 months in UK – for using counterfeit identification documents.

Roughly since the beginning of his misfortunes and up till now Trefilov had one main argument which he used to explain his bankruptcy, refusal to pay credit obligations and malicious dodging of the Russian court judgements – concern REWE’s refusal to the deal for acquisition of the Grossmart network in 2007-2008.

These statements made by the ex-owner of MARTA were repeated not only in media (RBK 28.08.2013 “When I fell into the trap”, BBC 16.05.2013 and others), but also in the court trials in Europe (Austria and UK).

Recently, in June 2014, the High Court of London held a trial against Trefilov at the behest of Alfa-Bank. The bank was seeking recognition of the decision made by the Meshansky district court of Moscow in regard to the collection of the credit debt, as well as the interest on it, from Trefilov, which amounts to 521.44 million rubles.

As it became apparent during the proceedings, the credit was given in 2006 to the LLC Elekskor, which belonged to Trefilov. At a later date the bank was given personal guarantees by Trefilov for the repayment of the loan.

Despite the obvious legal violations and the refusal to fulfil the obligations before Alfa-Bank as the borrower (guarantor) for more than 7 (SEVEN) years, Trefilov continued to resist the legal decision by all means possible.

Once more, apparently not having other options, he started to point to the cancelled deal for the sale of Grossmart network (LLC Elekskor was the main commercial operator for Grossmart). Having stated this “factor”, he continued saying that the judgement made by the Russian court in favour of the creditor (Alfa-Bank) was contradicting the principle of natural justice as well as in violation of Trefilov own legal rights.

The other “argument” made was the alleged plan by Trefilov to pay off the creditor-banks after having handed over the rented retail spaces from Grossmart to the X5 Retail Group, with the representatives of affiliated with the bank structures (!) paying for his debts. Moreover, these agreements were allegedly recorded and signed with the bank to be used as the conditions in Trefilov’s guarante.

A NEW LIE?! From 2009 to 2013 Trefilov and his legal representatives stubbornly stated to the press that he had a firm buyer for the Grossmart network – the X5 Retail Group. Trefilov also assuredly quoted the price of the deal – 350 million euro (the last mention was made to the RBK – Daily, in an interview with Anna Levinskaya on 28th August 2013). He was certain that the deal was disrupted – apparently REWE confused him by offering a larger sum for Grossmart – 500 million, after which they bribed his management, made an “imitation of a deal”, and then cancelled it all, so as to bankrupt Trefilov! As a result, the “trusting” Trefilov was left without a buyer, missed his moment (as he found out about the deal cancellation only in April 2008) and became bankrupt!

In June 2014, his statement shows a completely different picture – in the High Court of London a different version is given: X5 apparently was only considering the rented retail space belonging to Grossmart, and Trefilov already knew about it in January 2008!! With the funds from the sale of the rental rights for these spaces Trefilov was going to pay part of his loans from one of the creditors -  Alfa-Bank…

This version also lacked any documented proof (as usual) and, just like the first version, was dismissed by Judge C. C. Edelman for lack of evidence.

In the end the British court supported the demands of the creditor and satisfied all of the stated requirements in full.

Judge Edelman in his verdict said that the Defendant’s statements were preposterous, odd and unsubstantial (or quite literally “without substance”) and so he naturally ruled in favour of Alfa-Bank.

It remains unknown what kind of conclusion Trefilov expected, especially when his defence consisted of baseless complaints about his partners, which only served to deny his own official statements made earlier.

Of note is the fact that most of the published articles and interviews were translated by Trefilov himself, who probably assumed that it is acceptable to have for each situation contradictory evidence as long as they suit his interests at that time.

Unsurprising then that such frank legal nihilism that borders with the “preposterous” would lead to bankruptcy, loss of a business and later legal prosecution.

 

 

PUR PUR or “Zina, where is the money?” (V. Vysotsky)

“Look upon the first puddle and in it you will find a reptile that with its mock-heroics surpasses and obscures all others of its kind.”
M. Y. Saltykov-Shchedrin
“The History of a Town” (about Foolsville)

"An ape is an ape, though clad in scarlet;" so a woman is a woman still, that is to say foolish, let her put on whatever vizard she please.”
Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus
“The Praise of Folly”

 

Then where could the huge amounts of money that Trefilov acquired from the banks for the Grossmart project have gone to? It is a well-known fact that when Elekskor filed for bankruptcy it was 10 billion rubles in debt (approximately 200 million pounds sterling).

This colossal sum was virtually dissolved in vast projects, which were given life by Trefilov’s “Napoleonic” plans, gratuities (no point in keeping those secret), ludicrous staff salaries and… expensive whims of a dear to him person – Georgy Yuryevich’s wife Julia Trefilova, who is also the vice president of the (informally created) MARTA Holding.

Let us make it clear – anyone can be struck by a whim or a fancy. And there is nothing wrong with a husband wanting to pamper his wife, when he has an opportunity.

Of course, we will not go on in detail about all of the "excesses": the many-karat jewelry, the luxurious wedding in a rented for the occasion island of Santorini with guests and spouses arriving and departing on a private plane and other such features and attributes of a "beautiful" life so “crucial” to philistines, which some can afford (at least) on credit...

We will, however, say a few words exclusively about the business, as well as the women who are in this serious, exciting and traditionally masculine occupation.

Julia Trefilova was apparently unsatisfied with the simple and not always rewarding role of the wife of a Russian businessman. In connection with this, she not only personally oversaw a part of the quite unprofitable businesses belonging to her husband, but also went on with her own projects, which were often no less inferior than the “ideas” of MARTA’s president.

While pondering what kind of “theme” could use the very pleasant sum of money, being a woman, she came up with a very female-orientated business.

Do not imagine anything excessive – not a boutique, not a beauty parlour, not a modern art gallery, not an antique shop and not even a beauty spa inspired Julia Trefilova.

Naturally, everyone gravitates towards that which interests them, is known to them or is simply pleasant to work with. In short, everyone has their own values and as an old classic said – “people manage to be proud of many different things.”

The vice president of MARTA found her treasures, so to speak, - and it turned out to be bijouterie. That is imitation "jewels", bobby pins, elastic hairbands, beads and plastic straps with dyed feathers placed in a “magical cabinet” according to a concept made by the largest advertising agency in the world (!) involved in this project.

It is important to note that the products were not of high quality and if they did belong to some family of brands, then those were part of the worldwide (Chinese) corporation with “no name”. By themselves these wares were presented in a lavish assortment on any clothing market in Russia.

Evidently, it was assumed that all of this “romance” (or at least the promise of it…) would be sold in the shopping centre “European” and brought out to the light of day from the “magical” cabinet. All the easier to confuse the naïve customers into thinking the goods to be more prestigious than they actually are. This in itself adds quite the finishing touches to the portrait of the businesswoman – truly the situation smacks of fraud.

No other motives can possibly explain the desire of Trefilova to buy and then sell specifically cheap (in every sense) goods at very lucrative and costly venues. Trefilov certainly could finance her “endeavours” on a much more decent level, as many other husbands do at the request of their business active wives.

And so in 2006 the network Pur Pur was made, formed of almost 50 trading venues from 30 to 80 sq. m in size (with ridiculous rates per square meter). A network intended for those girls and women who believed that “magic” can be purchased for their personal use at a low cost of no more than 1,000 rubles.

The dissonance was amplified by the fact that in the realisation of his wife’s plan Trefilov was very generous – the project was done with what can be called “textbook” marketing: from concept designs to opening of outlets; the “unbridled creativity” of reputable advertising managers cost Mr Trefilov 500,000 US dollars.

For those uninitiated in the creative, this sum Trefilovs willingly paid just for the professionally styled “concept” of the “magic cabinet” and the rather odd name of the retail network.

For Georgy Trefilov the subsequent expenditures lasted as long as the business itself – since the banks categorically refused to lend to a constantly unprofitable network and Trefilov’s spouse refused to give up on such a worthy affair as selling Taiwanese hairbands and “necklaces” with “diadems”.

It seems that all of these seemingly trifles (or possibly just pettiness) attract and hold on to people much more if they are at the core of that person’s nature.

And to hell with these losses, no one knows about them and you only live once – and thus we have the right! The “façade” of success is what is important, what difference does it make if it is real success or just “glitter”?

Continuing with unremitting ambitions and vanity, an absolutely useless “status” was bought for these knick-knacks. In 2007 the network has received a nomination in an All-Russian contest “Golden networks” for the category “Discovery of the year”.

Thus, the business crediting was done by Trefilov himself for the development of the fast growing regional retail network Grossmart (for 2 years investors believed, if not in the prospects of this undertaking, then in reliability of his Western partners), while the funds thus obtained were split between repayment of past loans and on subsidies to loss-making businesses, including the network Pur Pur.

While Julia Trefilova, according to eyewitnesses, remained pleased with herself and proud of her idea. The fact that the network has not reached the indicators stated in the investment memorandum, did not bother anyone at the time, no one even tried to ask these questions (why would a person keep an unprofitable business?). This was mostly because the answers were widely known, although, in a private circle.

Most likely this explains the almost incredible fact that the spouses managed to get rid of Pur Pur in the finale to the “big business”, whilst being practically on the verge of bankruptcy. A portfolio investor was found, who was famous for unorthodox investments – “KIT Finance”.

As Trefilov pointed out himself, the price of the transaction was unreasonably high. Not having any solid confirmations, we will not disclose the dubious figure. But given the players involved in the “investment” we can assume anything possible… even millions of dollars for “business-trinkets”.

As is the norm, before the deal official loud and promising statements were made about the future rapid development of the Pur Pur network, however, like many others, these plains remained on paper only.

Which, in fact, comes as no surprise. What was there to develop to begin with?

The only thing that can be vouched for was that the sale of Pur Pur did not save the “billionaire couple”, by their own admission, from poverty and their flight from Russia. (links to videos “billionaire couple” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDaeyIXzGLM and "you do not think, when you run” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zz6taI2k4VY)

And as for the buyer, “KIT Finance”, same as the seller, suffered the fate of almost complete and very scandalous bankruptcy.

And the losses were at public’s expense, of course.

 

Death of a salesman.

“It does not matter what you say, son. It is important how you say it.” – This catch phrase belongs to the protagonist of “Death of a salesman”, a work written by A. Miller in 1949. Willy Loman was an unsuccessful salesman, and like most of American philistines he spent most of his life paying of endless loans and dreaming of “success”.

He aggressively imposed his views on his sons and practically taught them to lie and break the law. To one of them, a kind and caring kid, he repeats tirelessly this questionable “truth”, and as a result of this education the guy constantly ends up in jail for theft.

Any criticism from friends or family Willy would always parry with accusations against other people, not wanting to admit his own mistakes, the mendacity and meaninglessness of his chosen path. To a friend’s offer to work together honestly and without “gimmicks” he replies with a categorical refusal, which however did not prevent him from regularly borrowing money at difficult times from his dependable friend…

At the end of the play the salesman goes mad and commits suicide so that his family could get his life insurance and repay the last of the fees for the already dilapidated house and property.

During his preparations for the car accident Willy Loman tells himself: “Imagine, 20,000 dollars? What a sum! How great would it be to get it! Wow!”

Feeling an incessant and pathological thirst to acquire at any price financial prosperity, he does not even think about the reality that he spent all of his life on this utopia. In fact Willy Loman prepares to let go of his life completely (for the money), which leads to him going through with executing his plan.

At his funeral, the now widow says the following to her late husband: “How odd it is… We are finally free of debt and we even have money…”

And his son, who always understood that he became a criminal solely out of a desire to please his father, namely “to quickly become rich and successful”, says thoughtfully: “I think that throughout his life he never did understand who he really is…”

An appropriate metaphor, despite the 65 years distance.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with money in itself, since it cannot bring harm (or joy) to anyone by itself, or for that matter force someone to leave their country and run from an investigation or commit suicide. 

All causes stem from the ambitions of an underdeveloped soul and a weak mind that creates pointless attempts of a flawed personality to engage in serious activities. These consequently lead to a loss of the sense of reality and the subsequent collapse.

Formally – that is because of money, unjustified priorities, and the desire to follow the common, allegedly “right” and fit for all pre-sets of a “respectable” life…

Mentally – it is the fake jewellery, in which so loves to dress the even doomed to failure and in advance defeated “success”.

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