Edition “Important Stories” published investigation of the General Director of the First Channel Konstantin Ernst. He turned out to be the beneficiary of an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands, which is involved in an ambitious project to demolish Soviet cinemas in Moscow and build shopping centers in their place. Russian state banks provided tens of billion rubles for these purposes, the newspaper reports.
The information was found thanks to the Pandora Papers dossier – it is 12 million documents with data on the owners of offshore companies from around the world. The archive with this information was obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) from an undisclosed source.
In November 2014, the Moscow mayor’s office put up for auction 39 cinemas, some of which were of architectural value for the city. They were bought at the lowest price – 9.6 billion rubles – and without real trading by the Edisonenergo company, which is part of the ADG Group of brothers Mikhail and Grigory Pechersky. Investments in the reconstruction of cinemas were estimated at 60 billion rubles. The money for this was allocated by the state bank VTB, clarify “Important stories”.
In February 2014, when the Olympics were held in Sochi, Moscow Dvorik Ltd. was registered in the British Virgin Islands. And eight months later, in October 2014, that is, a month before the auction for the sale of cinemas, Konstantin Ernst became the sole shareholder of another company from the same British Virgin Islands – Haldis Corporation.
As the newspaper managed to find out, “Edisonenergo” belongs to the company from Cyprus Dvorik Cyprus Ltd, which, in turn, belongs to two companies from the British Virgin Islands: Xelio Invest (its owners are unknown) and Moscow Dvorik Ltd.
Ernst’s Haldis Corporation became the largest shareholder of Moscow Dvorik Ltd. The firm of the General Director of Channel One acquired almost 47% of the shares. The money for this was provided by RCB Bank located in Cyprus – one of its main shareholders is the same Russian state bank VTB.
At the end of December 2014, the bank provided Ernst’s offshore company with more than $ 16 million (this is almost a billion rubles at the exchange rate at that time) on the security of its own shares.
At the initial stage of the project, the owners of the ADG Group announced that they were going to reconstruct the cinemas. The same was stated in the Moscow mayor’s office, calling the sale of cinemas “a concept of regional ‘centers of attraction’ that is fundamentally new for Moscow.” But in the end, the old Soviet cinemas were demolished, and shopping centers were built (or will be built) in their place.
Representatives of ADG Group declined to be interviewed with Important Stories. Konstantin Ernst, in turn, said that he did not (and does not plan to do) anything illegal, because “this is how his parents raised him.” The General Director of Channel One confirmed that he was related to Moscow Dvorik and “never made a secret out of it”. Ernst did not explain why he decided to register a company in the British Virgin Islands. According to Ernst, this project was not compensation from the authorities for the Sochi Olympics: “My reward for participating in the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games was one ruble. You can find information on this in the official documents of the Organizing Committee. “
Konstantin Ernst refused to answer other questions.