After the Soviet Union broke up, the Black Sea Shipping Company (BSSC), together with the Azov Shipping Company (ASC) and the Soviet Danube Shipping Company (DSC), have been taken out of subordination to the Ministry of Merchant Marine of the USSR and the Ministry of River Fleet of the USSR. BSSC was placed under administration of the State Administration of Marine Transport of Ukraine established on 2 January 1992, which became the successor of the Ministry of Merchant Marine of the USSR in Ukraine.
On 27 January 1994, the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine ordered an audit of the Black Sea Shipping Company. A parliamentary investigative commission was established, chaired by the ex-prosecutor of Prymorskyi Raion in Odesa, MP Y.A. Karmazin.
As of January 1993, BSSC had 227 vessels; however, 160 of them were scattered all over the world’s offshore jurisdictions. First vessel impoundments on various, often invented grounds followed; 11 of these vessels were missing. After transformation of BSSC into a joint-stock company, destructive trends accelerated. Loan interest was steadily climbing, and Blasco-BSSC’s profits were hid and siphoned off to offshore banks. As a result, criminal charges were brought against P.V. Kudiukin, and he went to prison for carrying out an erroneous (as it turned out) plan of transferring vessels to intermediary companies.
In 1995, when BSSC’s fleet included 216 vessels, A.V. Koval took helm at the company but was unable to find out where the company’s money and vessels have gone, and on top of that, he lost another 30 ensigns. The mechanisms launched by his predecessors continued to devour the company’s funds and vessels. Another CEO, A.M. Stognenko was appointed the same year 1995; BSSC’s fleet shrank to 186 ensigns; the company took new loans it realistically could not repay, and as a result, a wave of impoundments of BSSC’s vessels came all over the world: in 1995-1997, the company lost 171 vessels. As of January 1998, BSSC had only 15 ensigns.
By 2004, the company had 6 vessels and 17 outstanding loans totalling 11 million dollars. In 2005, BSSC’s losses amounted to half a million dollars.
When the Ministry of Transport and Communication of Ukraine was reorganized again in December 2010, BSSC was placed under administration of the State Service of Marine and River Transport of, this time, the Ministry of Infrastructure of Ukraine.
As of today, BSSC’s fleet has shrunk to one ensign.
When BSSC is mentioned, everybody intuitively imagines marine vessels and ports only; however, one should not forget about the huge logistical base and immovable property as well.
Immovable property is what BSSC had a lot of, including the building in Odesa at Kanatna Street 6. Later on, this building ended up in the hands of Industrial Kombinat LLC with Viktoria Borysivna Sporysh as director, but more about the “Sporysh family” will follow.
There was a period of “economic miracle” in the history of Ukraine, when almost everyone had money. This “miracle” was fueled, to a large extent, by active financing provided by banks to both the general public and businesses. Everybody was taking loans, and many were able to build up a good business; some went bankrupt, but did not despair and went to banks for fresh loans. Banks were happy to provide financing, counting on liquidity of collateralized property. The demand for immovable property was huge. Only the lazy did not sell or buy apartments, cars or commercial property.
Almost the entire country was in the state of euphoria from the availability of loans. Many were confident that they would easily repay the loan, but there were some who were not going to pay it back. These are the ones we’ll be talking about below.
We are used to the fact that banks “bleed” borrowers “white”, employing various tricks which an ordinary person may not even suspect about: hidden interest, additional fees and astronomic insurance premiums.
While the situation with individual loans is more or less clear (people were borrowing to buy an apartment or car), businesses were opening lines of credit to finance their day-to-day operations. When a business customer was deemed reliable, bank would offer it an unsecured line of credit.
When the first bells of the impending financing crash began to ring in 2007, experienced bankers decided to play it safe and began demanding a pledge on the borrower company’s property.
That’s was Ukrsotsbank did. This bank has opened a six million-dollar line of credit for Ideal Ltd., a company headquartered in the aforementioned 6,000-sq.m building in Odesa at Kanatna Street 6. It is worth noting that Ideal Ltd was founded by the foreign company Luxury Group Incorporated domiciled at Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands (BVI). Ideal Ltd had no own property, but the problem with the bank had to be solved somehow. And then came the crunch: to collateralize Ideal’s line of credit, Industrial Kombinat LLC came to rescue with its property, and the property provided to bank to secure the line of credit was none other than that very building at Kanatna Street 6 in Odesa.
According to data from the state register of legal entities, several other companies also have their offices in the unfortunate building at Kanatna Street 6.
Inagros LLC, the company where director was Viktor Volodymyrovych Sporysh (before the company was liquidated);
Ideal Ltd, founded by Luxury Group Incorporated domiciled at Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands (BVI);
Star Impulse LLC founded by the foreign company Anglostar Inc. domiciled at Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands (BVI);
Industrial Kombinat LLC, the company where director was Viktoria Borysivna Sporysh and the founders were Star Impulse LLC and the foreign company Anglostar Inc. domiciled at Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands (BVI).
It’s clear even to a layman that all these companies are interrelated and united by the Sporysh family.
Time went by, but nobody was even thinking about settling over one and a half million dollars in outstanding payments under Ideal Ltd’s line of credit, so the bank decided to collect the pledged property.
And that’s where the most interesting part begins. How not to pay off the debt and keep the property.
The Sporysh’s mother-in law joins the action: Alla Dmytrivna Tselik, a retired woman born in 1949 who receives a monthly pension of 1000 hryvnias and who in 2008 allegedly lent 400 thousand hryvnias to Industrial Kombinat LLC.
The main purpose of her application to court was to place the building under arrest and not to let the bank collect the pledged property. During the litigation, Ukrsotsbank already recognizes its right to take over the ownership of the building, and de-facto becomes the lawful owner of the property. However, this fact did not fluster the judge of Prymorskyi Raion Court in Odesa Andrii Tarasov, who issued an outrageous warrant placing arrest on the bank’s property (subsequently, this warrant was overturned upon the bank’s complaint).
Currently, Prymorskyi Police Department in Odesa is already investigating the criminal case No 12017160500006041 opened against Serhii Sporysh’s mother-in law, who is charged with illicit actions against banking institutions.
In continuance of attempts at defrauding the bank, the Sporysh family-controlled Anglostar Inc. files an application to a commercial court for termination of the mortgage agreement pledging the building at Kanatna Street 6 to Ukrsotsbank to secure Ideal Ltd’s debt. The applicant claimed that Anglostar Inc. did not authorize the pledging of this property. Although all companies are de-facto owned by Anglostar Inc. and this application to court looks funny, if one doesn’t know much about Ukrainian judicial system. This scheme is as old as the world itself, and some swindlers have succeeded in defrauding a bank.
The court of first instance has partially granted the application, but Ukrsotsbank appealed this judgment and on 21 December 2017 won the case No 916/1576/17.
The court has established that the pledge agreement is lawful, and as a result, the “bank defrauding operation” has failed.
Another interesting case: perhaps everyone remembers the highly-resonant theft of more than two kilograms of gold bars from the National Bank of Ukraine office in Odesa. In connection with this case, the police are looking for the NBU employee Yurii Nasikovskyi who the law enforcement authorities believe has fled to the annexed Crimea. Before joining the NBU, Yurii worked at that very Ideal Ltd we mentioned earlier, so it seems that bank fraud is a “specialty” of this group.
Identification code: 2989714778
Surname: Nasikovskyi (Nasikovskiy)
Given name: Yurii (Yuri)
Patronymic: Oleksandrovych (Aleksandrovich)
Date of birth: 08.11.1981
Country of birth: Ukraine
Region of birth: Odesa Oblast
Place of birth: Odesa
Residence address: Ukraine, Odesa Oblast, Odesa, Liustdorfska Doroha 13, apt. 274
Place of work: 22485446 — Ideal Limited, 25.10.2004, 00.00.1900; 22485446 — Ideal Limited, 00.00.1900, 00.00.1900.
Our source in the police believes that Serhii and Viktoria Sporysh may also be involved in the theft of gold bars. The investigators will follow up on this version as well.
Ukrainian businessmen have to use offshore companies as an instrument of minimizing tax burden and to somewhat protect their assets against raiding. But one should not forget that offshore companies, such as Luxury Group Incorporated, Anglostar Inc., Spaceship Consulting S.A. and others, may also be used to facilitate illegal operations in Ukraine.
Before the escalation of confrontation between Russia and Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, Russian businessmen openly invested in Ukraine. But presently, in view of international sanctions, Russian businesses affiliated with the political elite are no longer able to freely operate in Ukraine and Europe. Today, we see the trend in using offshore companies to conceal the “Russian trace”.
Under the circumstances, Serhii Sporysh and his wife Viktoria are not only avoiding to pay back the debt to banks but might also act as a front in Ukraine for Russian citizens who found themselves on the list of sanctioned persons.