"TAATTA Bank" - who stole its billions?

"TAATTA Bank" - who stole its billions?

"TAATTA Bank" - who stole its billions?
Fictitious persons, theft of tons of cash, shimmering diamonds and the keen minds of real maestro of adventurous financial schemes - no, this is not the announcement of the next Hollywood blockbuster. This is the real story of a simple Yakut bank, which took 220th place in the Russian banking system. On July 5, 2018, the Central Bank revoked its license, but the inglorious demise is not about TAATTA.

Dubious company

To start with, let us talk about the reasons of revoking the license. The low quality of the bank's assets was officially announced, and the Central Bank claimed that the leading authorities of "TAATTA" were acting in bad faith, meaning the withdrawal of assets by 4.2 billion rubles. What is more, the bank was artificially maintaining the amount of capital and raising public funds (at the maximum rates), despite the Central Bank's prohibition.

Let us go a little back. "TAATTA" was founded a long time ago, in 1990. The name of the bank is not an abbreviation, but the abbreviated name of the Tatta district in Yakutia, where the founders came from. But the bank stopped to be a bank of Yakutia in 2012, when a controlling stake was bought by a circle of businessmen, led by Igor Sternin.

Everything was quiet for four years, but in 2017 a sort of shady activities started happening - the shareholders were changing at an incredible speed, and even the deals with rather dubious economic content started to appear. To all the troubles of TAATTA, it is necessary to add the fact that it came under US sanctions for providing services in the Crimean peninsula after 2014. Speaking about Crimea, 70% of banks that came to the region subsequently lost their licenses. The fact is that companies that did not have any troubles, did not agree to work there, and the companies that agreed, got indulgences from the Central Bank. So, it turned out that the fraud in the "TAATTA bank" began much earlier. It is interesting that Sternin himself called coming to Crimea almost the holy mission of the company, because "Christianity came from the land of Chersonesos in Russia." It is a pity that the further actions of the bank looked somehow not divine.

Another important point is that in May 2018, shortly before the license was revoked, TAATTA began offering to open deposits in its virtual bank IQBank24. Moreover, the proposal sounded extremely profitable - 7.2-7.5% per annum, which was the best option on the market and attracted a lot of investors. However, this did not affect the bank's reporting, and users started complaining at forums that they hadn't been provided with a contract, but were only given a statement about opening a deposit and a certificate about the status of the account.

At the helm

In 2017, the main shareholder of TAATTA Igor Sternin, with a 50.33% stake, sold his shares. The main share was redistributed between Andrei Kobzon and Irina Fatina, less than 1% went to the minority shareholders. To be honest, Sternin did not get away from the shareholders, because 9.5% of TAATTA belonged to BestTehno Leasing LLC, in which the businessman got a 78.946% stake. By the way, Kobzon did not stay as the main shareholder for a long time, after a couple of months a series of other names started.

To be back to the personality of Igor Sternin, as this person is very interesting - he is a professor, doctor of economic sciences and former shareholder of TAATTA and Cedar. About "Cedar" it is worth telling a little more, to explain some coincidence in case of "TAATTA".

PJSC Commercial Bank Cedar was founded in 1991 in Krasnoyarsk, Sternin was the founder and owned a 25% stake. In 2012, he sold his share, and soon the shareholders began to change one after another (the same way it was happening in "TAATTA" case) - new ones came to replace the new ones. All these processes proceeded rather strangely and hastily, alternating with multi-million dollar thefts from the bank. Soon, the Central Bank announced the unprofitability of "Cedar" and announced a reorganization.

As soon as Sternin got rid of the shares of Cedar, he acquired a stake in "TAATTA". It is interesting that in the case of the new bank, the businessman acted in exactly the same way - he sold his share shortly before the whole mess, probably knowing what was going to happen.

The heist of the century

The embezzlement at "TAATTA" was tremendous. On July 19, 2018, it became known that more than a ton of cash, 569 million rubles, was lost during the collection. It turns out that "TAATTA" not only lost its license, but was also completely plundered. "Rusbankrot" got to know that a large amount of money was received directly from the cashier by a collector, arranged according to fake documents - after the incident, he disappeared, and in fact a criminal case was opened. But who could pull such an embezzlement?

Anonymous messages from the former "TAATTA" employees should be noted here. They believe that the same collector was employed by the management and was at the helm for many years ago. Who could it be?

This fact also explains the fact that the new owners, delving into the essence of the matter, immediately sold their shares, not willing to be involved in the dark scheme. All this is similar to a game of "hot potatoes" - the children quickly throw a ball to each other, but the child who catches the ball when the host says "stop", looses. At one point, the Central Bank said "stop", but this does not mean that the ball was in the hands of a truly guilty person.

A tight-knit group

It is important to note that another former shareholder of Kedra, Mikhail Baranov, who, along with Sternin, came to conquer a new bank, appeared in "TAATTA". After he "leaked" the share following the example of his colleague, Baranov took up the next bank - he bought the shares of Kemerovo "Kemsotsinbank". What fate awaited him? At the end of May 2019, the Central Bank revoked its license for shady activities. It turns out that the same people appear in a series of bursting banks. Is it a coincidence?

The personality of Mikhail Baranov is worth revealing a little more. He was a shareholder of "TAATTA" together with his father, Alexander Baranov, with a share of 16.74%. Baranov-father, along with Sternin, was the founder of "Cedar" bank, which means that we are not facing a tandem, but already at least a trio of bank destroyers. There are eight organizations at Alexander Baranov's record that have ceased to exist - mainly construction companies, but among them there is a bank that went bankrupt according to the old scheme, CB "Yarbank" LLC (ceased to exist in 2010). It is logical that in the list of founders of "Yarbank" we also found Mikhail Baranov, an irreplaceable companion. In addition to banking, he, following the example of his father, was engaged in various construction organizations - there are six bankrupt organizations at his record.

When it comes to Mr.Sternin, his biography in the official register is less impressive - just the "Cedar" and "TAATTA" already known to us. But we should not forget the fact that Igor Sternin is still a doctor of Economics, he is more familiar with the role of a gray cardinal with clean hands, but not an executor, who has appeared in all possible structures. Actually, at the moment, Sternin is positioning himself as a simple professor. He is the founder of only one operating organization, which name is "Professorial Assembly of the Krasnoyarsk Territory".

The Cedar way

Let us go back to "Cedar" Bank and pay attention to another interesting shareholder of it - Alexey Alyakin. The businessman is known for the theft of "Pushkino" Bank, but in addition he managed to become the owner of a whole bunch of credit organizations: "MAST" Bank, "Unicorbank", "Intercapital" Bank, "Oksky", "AB-finance" and "Cedar" of course. It is known that he acquired assets at a decent discount, we can say almost for next to nothing, but another fact is more interesting.

Logically, having gained control of a group of banks, Alyakin had to combine them to increase capitalization and business development, but he did not. On the contrary, acquired banks rolled into the abyss. What does it mean? Yes, it means that they were originally bought for the forced accumulation of depositors' funds, the withdrawal of capital and future bankruptcy. It was the top managers of Alyakin who bought the stake in "Cedar" from Igor Sternin, and Mikhail Baranov also leaked his shares to him. It is important to note that Sternin and Baranov, as people floating freely in the economic environment, simply could not help knowing, what Alyakin was hunting for and why he was buying up large stakes in small banks. It turns out that the ruin of the "Cedar" occurred with the tacit agreement of both Sternin and Baranov. And "Cedar", as we have already found out, is a mini-projection of a story with the "TAATTA" bank. It turns out that in "TAATTA" financial frauds were carried out with the participation of persons already known to us with only one purpose - to bankrupt the bank and withdraw funds for personal enrichment.

Safe and sound

More than a year has passed since the "TAATTA" bank's license was revoked. No one has been punished, moreover, the most shady participants have retained their honest names and continue their activities, including banking. Entrepreneurs and common investors do not understand why the authorities are not trying to find and punish the perpetrators, to return the lost money.

Igor Sternin was allegedly not involved in the whole story - he continues to live in Krasnoyarsk (although he could have gone to his daughter in Israel), which means that he has something to do in Russia (there are still many interesting projects and money from trusting investors). When it comes to Alexander and Mikhail Baranovs, they do not advertise their lives in any way, do not give interviews and generally try to avoid getting their photos on the Internet. One way or another, the story of "TAATTA" is neither the first nor the last. We will probably see these names among the shareholders of small banks, passing from hand to hand according to a very dubious scheme.

It is necessary to mention that now the DIA bankruptcy trustee is trying to cancel many of the "TAATTA" bank's deals, regardless of whether they are valid or not, thereby, causing substantial harm to diligent acquirers of the assets.

Comments from the expert

The editors of "Rusbankrot" spoke with a lawyer who is well acquainted with the "TAATTA" case. The expert wished to remain anonymous.

"To a large extent, the main victims here are shareholders and participants of civil law relations who entered the deals shortly before the license was withdrawn from the bank. These are both individuals and legal entities. Now, if you look at the file cabinet of arbitration cases, we can conclude that DIA tries to cancel all the deals indiscriminately. Everything that was recorded on the balance sheets and in the registers. Why indiscriminately? The court rulings show that the dispute takes place on a formal basis, i.e. if the court does not consider everything objectively, completely innocent persons who made transfers, duly fulfilled all the conditions, entered into agreements and certainly did not imply revocation of the license. The dynamics of the consideration of the latest claims of the "DIA" shows that their claims are often presented unreasonably. They are aimed at taking property in their favor from conscientious purchasers.

We hope that taking into account the fair court decisions that have already been made and the further bankruptcy proceedings of "TAATTA" Bank will be fairly objective. The court will establish whether there was economic feasibility of concluding deals, whether funds were received, and whether the rights of the bank and other creditors were actually violated. As for the shareholders who filed their claims in the bankruptcy case, unfortunately, the fate of the money invested in the purchase of shares and the amount of dividends they claim remain a big question. I assume that the shareholders, unfortunately, will receive nothing."


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