2021-08-12 Kommersant - Ural Residents Received an Investment Bill - QBF clients have reported problems with fund withdrawal by Maxim Nachinov
12 August 2021
Ural Residents Received an Investment Bill (Published on 12.08.2021):
Over a hundred Ural residents, including some well-known businessmen, are struggling to recover their investments from QBF, an investment company whose licenses were revoked by the Central Bank. These residents have filed a collective appeal to initiate a criminal case against the company's leader, Roman Shpakov. While the Central Bank mentioned the clients were aware of the risks, many remain anxious about retrieving their funds.
Ural Residents Received an Investment Bill (Published on 12.08.2021):
Issues with QBF:
Over a hundred Ural residents, including renowned businessmen, are facing problems recovering their investments from the investment company QBF, which had its licenses revoked by the Central Bank. About 500 investors across Russia have been unable to retrieve their investments since May, with approximately 100 of them being Ural residents.
The QBF Portfolio Management financial group has been operational since 2008, comprising three companies: IK "QBF", "QBF Asset Management", and "Q.Broker". Roman Shpakov owns the financial group. By the end of 2020, the company had served over 2,000 clients and operated in six Russian cities. The Central Bank revoked its licenses on July 8th due to multiple violations, including non-compliance with Central Bank orders and breach of securities management requirements.
Alena Tkachuk, an investor, mentioned that QBF persuaded clients to purchase options through its sister company, LLC "Q.Broker", using reasons like client convenience and the company's reliability. However, she stated that the company didn't invest in IPO shares related to the options, and instead, funds were funneled into development projects and transferred abroad.
A businessman from Yekaterinburg, Ilya Borzenkov, reportedly lost 974 million rubles, which he entrusted to QBF. After encountering difficulties in withdrawing the deposit, his son Maxim Borzenkov approached law enforcement agencies.
More than 250 QBF investors have sent a collective appeal to various law enforcement agencies, requesting assistance in recovering their investments and initiating a criminal case against Roman Shpakov. The investors have set up a Telegram chat to coordinate their actions.
Earlier, Zelimkhan Munaev and Evgeniya Rossieva, QBF employees, were arrested in Moscow on fraud charges. The total damage from their alleged actions is estimated at 5–7 billion rubles.
Central Bank's Statement:
The Central Bank clarified that clients were informed about the risks associated with the contracts and the lack of guarantees from LLC IK "QBF".
Radik Akhmetshin, Director of the Ural branch of NAUFOR, expressed hope that QBF would fulfill some of its obligations. He mentioned that although the company is facing difficulties, he isn't ready to declare that no one will receive anything. Economist Konstantin Selyanin opined that QBF misled investors regarding its type of activity. He believes it will be challenging to return funds, as law enforcement agencies would need to exert significant effort to locate and liquidate assets to pay depositors.
Ural Residents Received an Investment Bill QBF clients have reported problems with fund withdrawal
As "Ъ-Ural" learned, over a hundred Ural residents, including quite well-known businessmen, are trying to retrieve their investments from the investment company QBF, whose licenses have been revoked by the Central Bank. Specifically, they have joined a collective appeal to the Investigative Committee, the Prosecutor's Office, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the FSB (the document is available to the editorial board) with a request to initiate a criminal case for fraud against the company's leader, Roman Shpakov. QBF is not commenting on the situation. The Central Bank noted that the company's clients were aware of the risks and the lack of guarantees on its part.
Ural clients of QBF have been unable to retrieve funds since May
Local clients told "Ъ-Ural" about problems with the return of funds entrusted to the investment company QBF. According to their estimates, over 500 investors from all over Russia have been unable to retrieve their money since May, of which about 100 are residents of the Urals.
The QBF Portfolio Management financial group has been operating since 2008. It includes three companies: IK "QBF", "QBF Asset Management", and "Q.Broker". The owner of the financial group is Roman Shpakov. At the end of 2020, the company served over 2,000 clients and had branches in six Russian cities. On July 8th, the Central Bank revoked its professional securities market participant licenses. Among the violations were non-compliance with the Central Bank's orders, breach of securities management requirements, and breach of risk management system requirements. The license activity ceases from January 20, 2022, and QBF is obligated to ensure the return of client assets by January 19.
According to one of the investors, Alena Tkachuk, QBF offered investors the purchase of options through its sister company, LLC "Q.Broker", justifying their actions by maximum convenience for clients, the reliability of the entire financial group, and a significant charter capital. "However, it turned out that the company did not purchase IPO shares related to the options with the funds attracted from investors. Part of the funds was invested in development projects of the group's beneficiary, and a significant portion of client funds was transferred abroad," said the investor.
One of the investors, a businessman from Yekaterinburg, Ilya Borzenkov, was unable to return assets transferred to QBF amounting to 974 million rubles, as reported by another QBF client, Igor Ptitsa. The Borzenkov family entrusted their savings to QBF's trust management between 2016 and 2018. After the entrepreneur failed to withdraw the deposit, his son Maxim Borzenkov turned to law enforcement agencies. Ilya Borzenkov told "Ъ-Ural" that "he has given enough interviews on this topic; let other investors share their sad story."
More than 250 QBF investors submitted a collective appeal to the heads of the Investigative Committee, the Prosecutor's Office, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the FSB, asking for assistance in retrieving their deposits and initiating a criminal case against the company's leader, Roman Shpakov, under articles 159 (Fraud) and 210 (Organization of a Criminal Association) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. To coordinate their actions, clients created a chat in Telegram, which currently has 662 subscribers. QBF's press service declined to comment on the situation.
Previously, "Ъ" reported on the arrest of QBF employees Zelimkhan Munaev and Evgeniya Rossieva in Moscow, who were charged with fraud. The total damage from the actions of the alleged fraudsters is estimated at 5–7 billion rubles.
According to the investigation, the company provided its clients with false reports about investing their money, while the funds themselves were transferred to offshore accounts and invested in development projects in the Moscow region.
The Central Bank clarified that "transactions with over-the-counter derivative financial instruments on behalf of individual clients (mainly qualified investors) were concluded with a counterparty that does not have a Bank of Russia license to conduct professional securities market activity." "At the same time, clients were informed about the risks related to these contracts, as well as about the lack of guarantees from LLC IK "QBF" to fulfill these obligations," the regulator's press service explained.
Radik Akhmetshin, Director of the Ural branch of the National Association of Stock Market Participants (NAUFOR), believes that the company will still fulfill some of its obligations. He explains the closure of the Ural branch, which investors perceived as a sign of a financial pyramid, as the company's cost minimization. "There are certain problems, but some people get their money, and others get reassurances that everything will be fine. QBF has been deprived of all licenses, but they still operate in terms of returning money to clients. The situation is indeed complicated, but I'm not yet ready to say that no one will receive anything. I hope that the Central Bank will keep the issue of payments under control," emphasized Mr. Akhmetshin.
Economist Konstantin Selyanin believes that QBF initially misled investors about its type of activity. "Some companies, effectively engaged in investment activity, obtain a license for something else and conclude fictitious deals. A loan agreement is concluded, but in fact, people are offered to give their savings so that they are then invested somewhere, and this is already another activity. This is asset management activity, which requires a separate license," the expert explained. Konstantin Selyanin added that returning funds would be difficult: "Law enforcement agencies need to spend a lot of effort to find some assets, arrest, sell, and pay money to depositors. But in practice, a person receives almost nothing."