“Kommersant” published Mikhail Ilyin's comments in an article titled “Tavrichesky” seeks payment for coal supplied”

15 May 2013
OOO IK Tavrichesky, a supplier of coal and oil products filed a lawsuit against OAO Remontno-Ekspluatatsionnoye Upravlenie (REU) (Translator's note: Maintenance and Operation Administrative Board), an affiliated structure of “Oboronservis”, amounting to 4.2 billion rubles. REU specializes in heat supply of domestic military facilities. Company’s debt to IK Tavrichesky arose due to supply of coal under more than thirty contracts, since 2011. Experts pointed out that the claim is one of the biggest claims for REU.

The complaint was lodged on May 6, the first court hearing are not yet scheduled. Information related to the lawsuit was posted on a website of the Supreme Arbitration Court last week.

According to IK Tavrichesky, while debts were accrued since 2011, this is not to say that the buyer didn't pay for all this time; however, they made payments in an irregular manner which led to build up of heavy debts. For instance, from the beginning of 2013 IK Tavrichesky supplied about 626 thousand tons of coal to OAO Remontno-Ekspluatatsionnoye Upravlenie, for an overall amount exceeding 2.9 billion rubles. The claimed amount of 4.2 billion rubles includes documented debt and contract-stipulated interest for using funds of the other party.

Sergei Bondarenko, official representative of IK Tavrichesky, stated that the company considers this claim as an ordinary component of business practice. Notwithstanding that OAO Remontno-Ekspluatatsionnoye Upravlenie is a major account of IK Tavrichesky; we have other customers as well. The company understands real problems faced by our partners in particular, we did not fail to supply fuel to REU for the whole period of partnership, despite existing financial issues. Such attitude is due to great social importance of facilities of the Ministry of Defence to which we supply fuel, including military units and military stations. The claim was deliberately scheduled to be filed upon completion of heating season: so as to avoid overanxiety and nervousness of consumers. At the moment we did not stop supplies, the current contract shall be effective till July 1, 2013”, said Mr Bondarenko. “However it is to be understood that to pursue such policy and to make regular payments to coal mining companies (which, as is well-known, operate on a prepaid basis), IK Tavrichesky is bound to employ loan funds (in particular, from Sberbank), at commercial interest. Naturally, it resulted in additional expenses that were not taken into account when concluding the contracts and cannot be reimbursed. Nevertheless, company’s top management and founders do not tend to dramatize things and consider the situation as a claim settlement process which is quite common in domestic business practice”.

The press service of OOO REU refused to make comments.

OOO REU was established based on the Decree 2008 N 1359 issued by the RF President Dmitry Medvedev on September 15, and the Order of the RF Minister of Defence Anatoly Serdyukov N 470 of May 25, 2009. By the RF Government Executive Order N 643-p dated of April 15, 2011, OOO REU is the exclusive thermal power supplier catering for the Ministry of Defense and subordinate authorities. The company has established 25 branches over the country so as to ensure trouble-free supplies. 100% of REU is owned by “Oboronstroy”. In turn, 96% of “Oboronstroy” is owned by “Oboronservice”, and the rest – by the Ministry of Defense (information disclosed on September 30, 2012). The Ministry is the sole shareholder of “Oboronservice”.

OOO IK Tavrichesky was established in April, 2010, for the purpose of operation in the energy market, in particular, oil and coal products market. It is affiliated with Tavrichesky Bank.

According to Mikhail Ilyin, a lawyer of the law office “S&K Vertical”, the claim currently considered by court is one of the biggest claims for OOO REU. However, the amount claimed is not critical to the respondent, because in 2013 they will spend about 16 billion rubles subject to the purchases plan. We’d like to emphasize that since the start of the year over 1200 claims were filed to arbitration court against OOO REU. It implies the presence of a system problem connected with delay of contractual payments. Many creditors being unable to get payments even after respective decisions by arbitration courts were bound to file bankruptcy petitions against the exclusive supplier of the Ministry of Defense. Naturally, after submission of such claims creditors’ demands were satisfied in full. It is entirely possible that IK “Tavrichesky” will be compelled to act this way. This category of litigations is not difficult and generally necessitates the ability to provide correct proofs of the fact of delivery and duly executed documents”, said Mr. Ilyin.

As earlier reported by “Ъ”, REU is now facing rather hard times. REU was kept in the limelight at the end of 2012 when it has transpired that the company was indebted to suppliers of heat and fuel for than 3 billion rubles. Some creditors, including TGK-2, filed bankruptcy petitions against REU. The Ministry of Defense promised to provide funds to settle the debts. Criminal proceedings against top management of REU initiated by the Ministry of Internal Affairs Investigation Committee became the tipping point of this scandal. Investigators believe that top management of REU caused direct losses to the state amounting to 148 million rubles of a fine accrued for delayed repayment of a debt to Transnefteproduct Corporation for fuel oil (3.3 billion rubles).

Yulia Chayun

“Kommersant St. Petersburg” no. 78/П (5109) of 13/05/13

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