2021-06-01 Kommersant - Financial Pyramids Remind of Themselves - Signs of fraud seen in the operations of investment company QBF by Ivan Koryakin
1 June 2021
Financial Pyramids Remind of Themselves (Published on 01.06.2021):
The QBF Financial Group is facing accusations of fraud, with the police suspecting the company of channeling client funds offshore. The company's top managers, including Zelimkhan Munaev and the company's lawyer, Evgeniya Rossieva, have been arrested. The investigation has identified signs of a financial pyramid in QBF's operations, and some investors have reported difficulties withdrawing funds. The total debt to clients is estimated at 5–7 billion rubles.
Financial Pyramids Remind of Themselves (Published on 01.06.2021):
Accusations against QBF:
The QBF Financial Group is facing allegations of fraud. The company has rejected these claims, stating they are attempts to discredit its reputation. The police, however, believe that QBF was directing client funds to offshore accounts. Notably, top managers of the company have been taken into custody. Investigators have found indications that QBF's operations resembled a financial pyramid.
Arrest of Munaev:
The co-founder and managing director of the QBF Financial Group, Zelimkhan Munaev, was apprehended at his apartment. Evgeniya Rossieva, the company's lawyer, is also being investigated. The duo is suspected of committing large-scale fraud.
Evgeny, a client of QBF since 2013, voiced his struggles in retrieving his investments. He has only managed to get back about 5% of the owed amount. According to him, financial advisors typically disappear once a fund return is requested. Evgeny lost a sum in the six-figure range (in dollars).
QBF primarily targeted wealthy clients. Some reports suggest that certain clients even had access to public funds. The assumption was that these clients would refrain from approaching the police if they lost their money, as they wouldn't be able to prove the legal origin of these funds.
Mode of Operation:
Clients were lured with a potential yield of 20%, often learning about this offer through word of mouth. While some did receive dividends, the investigation proposes that these were sourced from the contributions of newer depositors.
The investigation hints at dubious operations, with a Cypriot company and a Russian entity operating under the same umbrella. The latter held a license from the Central Bank and functioned merely as a façade. Although clients entered agreements with the Russian entity, their funds were routed offshore. Some of these funds were allegedly legalized via development projects. Roman Shpakov, believed to be the beneficiary of several QBF-related entities, is thought to be in the UAE.
Law enforcement agencies estimate QBF's total debt to clients at 5–7 billion rubles. However, the prospects of investors recovering this amount appear bleak, according to Mikhail Fatkin, a partner at the FMG Group law firm. Fatkin also expressed surprise that complaints against QBF have only emerged now, considering the company's long-standing operations.
Financial Pyramids Remind of Themselves
Signs of fraud seen in the operations of investment company QBF
Ivan Koryakin, 01.06.2021, 14:42
The QBF Financial Group has labeled information about its fraud as discrediting. Meanwhile, the police believe that the company was funneling client funds offshore. Top managers have been arrested. The investigation has detected signs of a financial pyramid in the investment company's operations. "Ъ FM" found affected investors who indeed faced issues when attempting to withdraw money. What amounts could they have lost? Ivan Koryakin reports on this.
For three hours, Zelimkhan Munaev refused to open the door to his apartment on Nikolaeva Street near the Government House. When law enforcement began to break it down, the businessman, deciding to surrender, could not open the half-broken door; it had to be forcibly opened.
This is how the co-founder and managing director of the QBF Financial Group was detained. Along with Munaev, the company's lawyer, Evgeniya Rossieva, is also under investigation. They are suspected of large-scale fraud.
The company allegedly attracted funds from citizens under the guise of investment and channeled them offshore. Among those who entrusted their money to QBF's "trust management" was Evgeny, an interlocutor of "Ъ FM": "I've been a client since 2013. In 2019, I requested a fund return. To this day, I've received only about 5% of what they owe me. So-called financial advisors usually vanish when you request a return of funds."
Evgeny lost a six-figure sum in dollars. And this might not be a record: QBF targeted affluent clients, some of whom, according to some data, had access to budget funds. The calculation was that these people, having lost money, would not turn to the police. After all, they couldn't then prove the legality of the funds' origin.
Clients were attracted by a yield of 20%, typically learning about it through word of mouth. Some received dividends, but, as the investigation suggests, these were paid from the funds of subsequent depositors.
Some tried to withdraw money for two years, says lawyer Vitaliy Markelov. He represented the interests of 16 investors in a dispute with QBF, which was resolved out of court.
"In QBF, they admitted there were indeed temporary communication problems. Otherwise, the published information aims to harm the company's business reputation and the honor, dignity, and business reputation of individuals who were related to the company's operations at different times."
What could have gone wrong with this activity? If we believe the investigation, a Cypriot company and a Russian one, which had a Central Bank license, operated under one roof. The latter was just a front. While additional agreements were signed with it, the money was sent offshore.
Part of the funds was legalized through development projects, writes "Ъ FM", including in the suburban Odintsovo, where a local residential complex is being built by a company, the founder of which, Roman Shpakov, is considered the beneficiary of several structures under the QBF banner. According to the publication, the businessman is hiding in the UAE. Investor Evgeny, hoping to get his money back, hopes that he hasn't disappeared completely: "Maybe they'll seize something from their assets, I don't know. They'll find Roman Shpakov, take his apartment in Dubai, and sell it. We'll see what happens. I'd like to hope for the best."
The total debt to clients is estimated at 5–7 billion rubles— at least, according to law enforcement agencies. Will investors be able to get it back? The chances are slim, says Mikhail Fatkin, partner of the FMG Group law firm.
It's strange that claims have arisen only now, continues Fatkin. The company has been operating for a long time and quite successfully. It's possible that it's under pressure. However, this doesn't negate the possibility of shady dealings in its operations. On the other hand, it's yet to be proven.