Debt burden forces even the most cautious businessmen committing reckless acts. For example, Sergei Polonsky, the most shocking one of all the Russian developers, recently told his blog readers that he managed to "reboot" successfully the company "Mirax Group", and to put it on a path of innovative development. Ordinary co-investors of numerous construction projects of "Mirax Group" took the news rather nervously, and began to storm the offices of the holding. In our point of view, " innovations" by Polonsky look quite scary actually. Thus, by the beginning of this year one of the largest developers has frozen virtually all of its construction objects. A number of highly questionable foreign deals of the holding are indicative of massive "evacuation" of borrowed funds and holders’ money.
The acquisition of the hotel Sungate Port Royal in the Turkish resort town of Kemer for 370 million Euro three years ago caused quite a stir among the officials of the local real estate brokerage community. By all objective indicators the price of this property was overstated at times. Moreover, contrary to a tradition the Russian businessman preferred to pay the former owner of the hotel Mr. Mehmet Nuri Gelikbagu a large portion of the "live" money. Sergei Polonsky took the credit of only 150 million euros in Turkish bank Vakif on bail of the hotel itself. Though the loan conditions were quite stringent.
Subsequent events showed that strange conditions of the purchase had hardly been a coincidence. Polonsky did not start managing the hotel, as well as paying the loan. At the beginning of 2009 he made a technical default on a payment to Vakif. A year later shocking developer with a slight embarrassment announced that he managed to sell useless hotel for 12.5 million Euro. The generous buyer appeared out to be Mehmet Nuri Gelikbag. Polonsky did not comment on where the hundreds of millions paid for the hotel in 2007 went to.
In summer 2008 the owner of “Mirax Group" solemnly announced a new large-scale project in London. The same as in Russian capital he was going to build a skyscraper on the banks of the Thames, for that reason his company has acquired a 50 percent stake in the project Beetham Tower from the British developer Beetham Organization. Transaction cost Polonsky 60 million pounds which is about 118 million dollars. According to the draft a high-rise 52-stored building with total area of 100 thousand square meters was to stand near the Royal Tower, allowing Her Majesty to observe the life "of a multifunctional complex with a hotel and shopping and entertainment units and apartments”.
The cost of the project was about 0.5 billion pounds. To recapture those costs, developers had to sell the apartments for the insane even for London price of 30 thousand pounds per square meter. it looked like Polonsky was already prepared to take profits when a quite predictable scandal burst. Local developers deemed it was inappropriate to build a skyscraper Beetham Organization Limited in the midst of crisis. Share of Polonsky, as in the case of the Turkish hotel, went to the banks against the collateral on the loan, which Russian businessman took under a paper project. The same lenders got 10 million pounds which the owner of Mirax Group "borrowed to finance the project of old houses Cornwall Terrace reconstruction in the historic center of London. As expected, the local community spoke against the venture.
For obvious reasons none of the Britons did return money to Polonsky. However, in contrast to the defrauded real estate investors of the “Fort Kutuzov” the businessman did not even think of organizing protests. On the contrary, when counting the losses from the two London ventures, he immediately put it in a mega project of ski resort Aminona-Est in one of the cantons of Switzerland. The new hobby cost developer 50 million euros. However, it never progressed further booklets production. Environmentalists from the World Wildlife Fund and the Foundation for the protection and landscape had prevented the project realization by sending a request to the Council of the Swiss canton of Valais with a motion to ban the construction. Among other things, conservationists have reproached the head of "Mirax Group" in prodigality and uneconomical explicit of the project. Polonsky replied with a proud silence. The money was written off under irrecoverable losses. Indeed, amid the losses incurred by Holding in Montenegro, when a construction project of the City Club Astra Montenegro valued at 200 million got failed, the incident in Switzerland seems to be a trifle.
Polonsky did not have to account to shareholders "Mirax Group". According to the official version, in London, Kemer, Switzerland, and Montenegro he lost his own "pocket money", but not the holding funds.
First of all, attention is drawn to the fact that all the foreign projects of Sergei Polonsky resemble each other like twins. First comes a powerful, resonant spin, and imposing names. Then goes approval of disproportionately large budget, inflated cost of paperwork and land. And then it ends up with absolute zero on the output. Nevertheless, all ventures by Polonsky has been supervised by his closest partner, coordinator of the majority of international projects in "Mirax Group" Maxim Temnikov. While the direct "dissolution of money" has been conducted by managers whose reputation does not hold absolutely no criticism.
For example, partner of Temnikov and Polonsky in the project of Swiss ski resort construction was someone named Vladimir Marakutsa, who began his career as an entrepreneur with a large fraud (even on the scale of Russia). Back in 1996 the future developer was engaged in selling fake trips to the All-Union Pioneer camp "Artek" on the streets of Moscow. The trade went brisk, so the yesterday Kharkov citizen in a short time earned about 5 thousand dollars thanks to gullible parents of Moscow pupils. Marakutsa invested Money wisely in stocks of the raw companies. However, in 1997 he the good luck let him down. Marakutsa took part in s story of theft attempt of Transneft shares, and he was nearly caught and therefore had to depart for home immediately. The chastising hand of justice caught up with him only in 2001. However, after a brief sentence he was released, and therefore he managed to take part in the raid on the company “Rusagrocapital”.
Another partner of Mr. Temnikov, the U.S. citizen Felix Sater, as reported by the newspaper The New York Times, has the same impressive biography. He started as a stockbroker and then his career took a sharp turn in 1993 when he was put in prison for a fight with the mutilations in one of the American bars. The imprisonment influenced the modest intellectual Sater in an unexpected way. Sitting in the jail he started a connection with the Mafia, the CIA and the influential circles among the leaders of the former Soviet republics. Felix did not fight in the bars any more. The second time he got in the field of view of the police when he was trying to buy Russian anti-aircraft missiles in one of the Central Asian countries. And in 1998 he was suspected of creating a fraudulent scheme among gamblers, which allowed him to divert about 40 million dollars. In Development sphere Sater got in early 2000's, having become acquainted with Sergei Polonsky and its partners. The criminal past of the colleague did not bother the Russians. The business acumen of the former New York broker was of great importance.
In our opinion, the most ridiculous of all foreign projects by Polonsky has been marked with fine artistry thanks to the efforts of these semi-criminal managers. In the dry lines of financial statements one can also notice a spark of Mr. Marakutsa and Mr. Sater talent. Thus, according to official data, for 2006-2008 "Mirax Group" received up to 1.3 billion dollars net profit. But by the spring of 2009 the company's debt had reached $ 400 million, and then virtually doubled, and amounting at 750 million dollars at the beginning of August. By correlating the size of the debt with total losses of Polonsky on the western real estate market, we can assume that hundreds of millions of "pocket money” dollars needlessly spent by businessman on ineffective projects, may be the funds of the holding.