Stepashin Sergei Vladimirovich, Accounts Chamber Chairman
«Russia's Power Families - 2011» / Stepashin Sergei Vladimirovich, Accounts Chamber Chairman
Employed at: RF Accounts Chamber
Positions held: 1994-1995 – Federal Counterintelligence Service director; 1997-98 – RF Minister of Justice; 1998-99 – RF Minister of Internal Affairs; from 1999 – First RF Deputy Prime Minister, then RF Prime Minister. From 2000 – RF Accounts Chamber Chairman.
Business involvement: As military officer and government official, he officially had no right to be involved in business.
The Accounts Chamber chairman also heads the Russian Federation Association of Audit and Accounts Agencies (RFAAA) established by several Russian regional audit and accounts chambers. The SPARK-Interfax database indicates that RFAAA was previously headed by Sergei Georgievich Belyaev (presumably the former State Duma faction head and former Sheremetyevo airport general manager). Sheremetyevo airport administration asked the RF General Prosecutor’s Office to initiate a criminal case against Belyaev “due to systematic and intentional unlawful acts in pursuit of business interests and against State interests.” RFAAA’s registered subsidiaries included Ortico LLC, Acsor-TV LLC and Acsor-Nedvizhimost’ (Acsor Real Estate) OJSC.
The Account Chamber Chairman is also registered as co-founder of the Foundation of Legislative Proposals, together with former Novgorod Region governor Mikhail Prusak, State Duma member Pavel Krasheninnikov and former Ministry of Justice staffer Alexander Urmanov. The Foundation also established several non-profit organizations specializing in legal issues.
According to the Consolidated State Registry of Companies, Sergei Vladimirovich Stepashin founded the Grand Duchess Elizaveta Fedorovna Russian Charitable Foundation. The Foundation established two companies: Sodruzhestvo Innovations Company LLC and TDL Elizaveta CJSC.
The RF Accounts Chamber head also chairs the Imperial Orthodox Palestinian Society (IOPS), founded by a group of individuals. Its subsidiaries are the IOPS Project Support Foundation and the Russian Historical University autonomous non-profit organization. Entrepreneur Mikhail Gutzeriev is an active IOPS member, and Sergei Stepashin is active Society chairman. For example, in early April 2011, the Accounts Chamber hosted a working meeting between the IOPS Chairman and Vladimir Kozhin, who heads the RF President’s administrative department. Discussed at the meeting were issues of future cooperation on facilities development at Sergiev Metochion in central Jerusalem.
Influence on business: Senior staffers at Sergei Stepashin’s organization were named in numerous economic criminal cases.
For example, convicted of crimes committed in 2007 were: Vasily Koryagin, RF Accounts Chamber Federal Property Use Supervision Department’s former deputy director; Sergei Klimantov, Federal Property Supervision Directorate inspector; and Sergei Dubovitzky, the former Vladivostok deputy mayor previously employed at Accounts Chamber. They received sentences ranging from 4 to 8 years for [receiving] a bribe paid by employees of a company that Klimantov and Koryagin inspected – the Geodezia Scientific Research Institute federal state unitary enterprise.
The criminal case against Zarina Farnieva (Accounts Chamber Legal Department head) and former inspector Yuri Gaidukov has not yet gone to trial. Farnieva and Gaidukov are charged with an alleged attempt in 2007 to receive a €7 Mln. bribe from Energomash NGO. They are also charged with fraud, and Farnieva is charged with abuse of power. The defendants were initially taken into custody but then released on bail.
In 2008, per request from Transneft JSC president Nikolai Tokarev, the Accounts Chamber inspected Transneft activities while Transneft was headed by Semyon Vainshtok, uncovering a $4 Bln. misappropriation. A number of experts believe this inspection prompted Semyon Vainshtok to resign as head of Olympstroi government corporation and leave the RF for Israel.
The same year, Sergei Stepashin supported an Eclipse 500 light jet aircraft assembly plant construction project in Ulyanovsk Region. The project was authored by Evgeny Bolotin (also known as European businessman Daniel Bolotin), who co-owns the European Technology and Investment Research Center venture fund. This international entrepreneur knew Stepashin’s coworker Alexander Korovnikov (currently Federation Council member), who at the time was executive secretary of the Accounts Chamber Chairman’s Expert Advisory Council. Stepashin’s support may have helped attract investment in the project: Svyaz Bank, affiliated with state-owned Vnesheconombank and previously close to former Communications Minister Leonid Reiman, invested $150 Mln. in Eclipse Aviation – a company created under Bolotin’s fund. The company subsequently declared bankruptcy; the money was not recovered and essentially disappeared.
Sergei Stepashin heads the Financial Supervision Publishing House CJSC’s editorial board, where deputy chairman is senator Alexander Korovnikov. According to SPARK-Interfax, the Publishing House is owned by Ekaterina Aleksandrovna Korovnikova and Moscow entrepreneur Denis Konradovich Smirnov, who, according to the media, took part in transactions involving land lots near Rublevo-Uspenskoe Highway. According to SPARK-Interfax, Publishing House general director Alexander Golubchenko also heads RusLesExport, founded by Ekaterina Korovnikova.
The Financial Supervision Publishing House is a longtime publisher of a full-color monthly anti-corruption magazine. A single issue of the magazine often publishes 10 or more photographs of the Accounts Chamber chairman, taken from different angles. The Financial Supervision magazine also publishes audit reports and runs full-page ads for State-owned banks and other organizations that may be audited by Sergei Stepashin’s agency.
The Publishing House and its affiliated Fitil’ Project CJSC (whose public shareholder is the TV anchor Igor Ugolnikov) co-founded the Fitil’ Culture and Leisure Club non-profit partnership. According to SPARK-Interfax, Fitil’ Project CJSC received 24 Mln. Rub. in government funds in order to bring back the Fitil short film series supported by the Accounts Chamber chairman.
The Financial Supervision Publishing House CJSC issues Stepashin-signed certificates of merit to entrepreneurs.
Wife Tamara Vladimirovna Stepashina, banker. According to the media, she founded Nord-Service Co. LLC and RusEconomInvest LLC. According to SPARK-Interfax, 95% of RusEconomInvest is currently held by Maria Vasilievna Ignatyeva – Stepashina’s mother and Sergei Stepashin’s mother-in-law. RusEconomInvest’s general director is Stepashin’s son.
The career of the RF Accounts Chamber chairman’s wife is closely linked to the business activities of Vladimir Kogan, former owner of St. Petersburg Industrial Construction Bank (ICB) and head of RF Ministry of Regional Development’s construction department. In 1994, Kogan was Bank shareholder, while his coworker Stepashina was the Bank’s Moscow branch assistant manager. In 1996, Kogan was confirmed as ICB chairman of the board, while Stepashina became head of the Moscow branch. In 1997, Kogan became President of St. Petersburg Bankirski Dom (Private Bank) (Promstroibank, St. Petersburg Bank and St. Petersburg International Bank), while Stepashina became, first, its vice-president, then deputy chair of the board.
After Sergei Stepashin was appointed Russia’s Prime Minister, ICB (according to Novye Izvestia) leased three buildings on Bolshaya Lubyanka [St.] (Nos. 14/1, 14/2 and 16/2). These buildings were previously owned by USSR KGB, then used by Incombank. All these buildings were leased to ICB at the token annual rate of $200 per m2. At the same time, ICB bought the KGB Cultural Center on Lubyanka St. for 5.84 Mln. Rub. Previously, Incombank bought the Center for $4.5 Mln.
By 2004, the Account Chamber chairman’s wife’s ICB OJSC share grew from 0.883% to 5%. Vedomosti newspaper estimated the share value at $30 Mln. Promstroibank stock (including Stepashina’s shares) was soon sold to Vneshtorgbank (VTB Bank).
In 2010, Vladimir Kogan became chairman of the Moscow Metrostroi OJSC board of directors. Centrostroi LLC (which some sources say Kogan also owned) then won the bid to buy Moscow Metrostroi. Information was published that there was a business conflict between the former ICB owner and Dmitry Gayev, head of Moscow Metropolitan state unitary enterprise. The Accounts Chamber inspected Moscow Metropolitan, resulting in Gayev’s termination and criminal prosecution under RF Criminal Code Art. 201 (abuse of power). Auditors established that Moscow subway and highway construction cost was overstated by 230 Bln. Rub.
After Promstroibank stock was sold to VTB, Tamara Stepashina was appointed VTB’s senior vice president. VTB is one of the world’s 20 most unprofitable banks. VTB president is Andrei Kostin; the main shareholder is the [RF] government, senior executives include Russian FSB directors’ sons.
In 2010, the Accounts Chamber initiated the inspection of Bank of Moscow JSCB, which VTB planned to acquire. When preliminary acquisition agreement was reached, the inspection was suspended per Andrei Kostin’s request. However, as soon as the asset transfer process halted, the Accounts Chamber inspection resumed. In 2011, VTB purchased disputed Bank of Moscow shares from the Bank’s former president Andrei Borodin, establishing a controlling interest. A 20.32% share was now held by entrepreneur Vitaly Yusufov, the son of former RF Energy Minister Igor Yusufov. Andrei Borodin, who emigrated to Great Britain, is currently charged by the RF Ministry of Internal Affairs’ Investigative Committee of abuse of power.
Tamara Stepashina, Sergei Stepashin and Andrei Kostin were named in a political scandal involving Russian Federation’s funding of the Republic of Abkhazia. Russia’s assistance package totaled 7.3 Bln. Rub., with the funds wired to Abkhazia through VTB Bank, while the Accounts Chamber verified the funds’ intended use. In evaluating early 2011 audit results, Sergei Stepashin stated that “no scoundrels [sic] were revealed in the disbursement of Russian financial assistance to Abkhazia.” In response, Abkhazia’s People’s Party leader Yakub Lakoba published an article uncovering a scheme to take the Russian funds out [of Abkhazia] through companies linked to Abkhazia’s first families. Lakoba accused the entities headed by the Stepashins of corrupt conspiracy. Following the publication, Lakoba was arrested, then released following a public outcry.
No information was found regarding any response from the Accounts Chamber to state-owned VTB Bank affiliates’ high-profile purchase of Chinese drilling rigs through an offshore intermediary (possible loss from this scheme was assessed at $160 Mln.).
Mother-in-law Maria Vasilievna Ignatieva, businesswoman and retiree, is Tamara Stepashina’s mother. According to SPARK-Interfax, she owned Nedvizhimost’ SV LLC (closed in 2007), Project VS LLC (“VS” presumably stands for “Vladimir Stepashin”), Nedvizhimost’ ST (“ST” presumably stands for “Sergei-Tamara”), and Project ST LLC. She currently owns Nedvizhimost’ VS LLC and RusEconomInvest LLC. Maria Ignatieva’s minority partner at RusEconomInvest is Nina Alekseyevna Smirnova, who is also general director and shareholder of Lubyansky Dvor LLC, the previous part owner of Nedvizhimost’ VS LLC.
According to SPARK-Interfax, participants in Nedvizhimost’ VS were the former Promstroibank (VTB Northwest Bank OJSC) and Stepashin family companies. Currently Nedvizhimost’ VS LLC is owned by Maria Ignatieva and main shareholder Anatoly Vasilievich Rodionov.
According to the press, Ignatieva also owned Acsor-Nok LLC and Nord-Service Co. LLC. According to SPARK-Interfax, Acsor-Nok’s name was changed to Ortico LLC, previously affiliated with ACSOR, which Sergei Stepashin continues to chair. Nord-Service Co. is Anatoly Rodionov’s asset. According to SPARK-Interfax, Nord-Service Co. LLC bought a share of Almaz-Antei Air Defense Corporate Group’s Main System Design Bureau named after Academician A.A. Raspletin.
Son Vladimir Sergeyevich Stepashin, businessman. Graduated from the St. Petersburg University of Economics and Finance. Has a Ph.D. (dissertation thesis: “State Antitrust Policy in the National Security Context”). Has worked in finance, and, according to the MK [newspaper], was linked to the St. Petersburg Promstroibank. In Moscow, he worked at Direct Electronic Trade Network CJSC, owned by Mikhail Komissar’s Interfax Business Service company.
Publicly available sources named Vladimir Stepashin in connection with redistribution of East Line Group’s property. (East Line controls the Domodedovo airport). In 2001, Russian FSB grounded company aircraft and searched company offices in investigating criminal cases involving smuggling of consumer goods from China. Flights were suspended, and the holding company’s business activities were inspected by the Accounts Chamber. Media suggested (although with no documentary support) that some of the Group’s Cypriot offshores were put in the Accounts Chamber chairman’s son’s name at the time. Flights then resumed. The Accounts Chamber announced that auditors who inspected East Line revealed no customs or currency law violations. The Group’s assets are currently believed to be owned by Dmitry Kamenschik and Valery Kogan.
According to SPARK-Interfax, Vladimir Stepashin: is still general director of RusEconomInvest LLC (owned by Sergei Stepashin’s mother-in-law Maria Ignatieva); used to head Nedvizhimost’ SV, Project VS, Nedvizhimost’ ST, Project ST (dissolved) and Nedvizhimost’ VS (Stepashin Jr. is no longer director).
By his own admission, Vladimir Stepashin dreams of owning a pig farm as he likes raising pigs and consuming pork. He is a creditor of Parnas-M OJSC, the agricultural holding company.