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By John Helmer, Moscow

A Financial Times reporter has just published the claim that a London arbitration tribunal decided last Sunday in favour of Michael Calvey’s claims against Artem Avetisyan and Sherzod   Yusupov. Calvey, Avetisyan and Yusupov are Moscow-based shareholders in the merger of  Vostochny Bank and Uniastrum Bank. Counting their combined assets, the re-named Vostochny (Orient Express Bank) is the largest of Russia’s regional banks; the 32nd largest bank Russia-wide. 

The reporter Max Seddon (lead image, left) is concealing that his information was prompted by Calvey’s (second from right) company and his lawyers in violation of the confidentiality rules of the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA). Calvey remains in a Moscow jail, waiting for trial next month on fraud claims by Avetisyan (right) and Yusupov in relation to the Vostochny Bank which Calvey was in the process of selling to Avetisyan until they started to fall out. Seddon and his newspaper have taken Calvey’s side but they have yet to publish the evidence.

The true story of Calvey, his loss-making bank,  and his effort to get out of jail with the aid of the London and New York financial press, can be read here

Seddon and his editors were invited to set their own record straight. Here is the email exchange:

Dear Mr Seddon:

I’ve reported this week on the misleading and biassed reporting which has characterized western media coverage of the affairs of the Orient Express (Vostochny) Bank and the indictment of Michael Calvey et al.: http://johnhelmer.net/the-calvey-claque-how-329-million-in-his-bank-losses-turned-into-proclamations-of-his-commercial-genius-and-innocence-of-fraud/

You have now reported:  “a London arbitration court has ruled against a Kremlin-connected businessman who attempted to seize control of a Russian bank in a battle that led to the detention of Michael Calvey, the top US private equity investor in Russia.In a ruling issued on Sunday, Artem Avetisyan was ordered to drop his attempt to exercise a call option that would give him and his partners control over Vostochny Bank, a lender focused on Russia’s far east. The London Court of International Arbitration [LCIA] ruled that Mr Avetisyan’s attempts to obtain a further 10 per cent of the bank via the call option violated arbitration agreements. It granted Mr Calvey’s private equity firm Baring Vostok permission to sue Mr Avetisyan’s company, Finvision Holdings.” https://www.ft.com/content/ebc7a2b2-4f1c-11e9-b401-8d9ef1626294

You don’t report that the proceeding was closed as to evidence and testimony, and confidential as to rulings. You don’t identify the source of your claims. You don’t say if you have read the full ruling, or an excerpt, or if you are reporting an interpretation by an interested party. You don’t clarify that the “Kremlin-connected businessman” — Artem Avetisyan — is more “closely connected” to German and Oleg Gref and Sberbank than he is to the Kremlin. 

The only interested party you cite is Baring Vostok, Mr Calvey’s company, although you avoid standard referential tags such as quote marks for direct speech or source identifiers for indirect speech. You publish without saying how you know: “Baring Vostok claims Mr Avetisyan and Mr Yusupov are trying by ‘any means necessary’ to stop a central bank-mandated Rbs5bn recapitalisation that would dilute their share and deny them control of the bank.”

You also report that Mr Avetisyan and Mr Yusupov refuse to respond to your request for comments. 

You are well aware that the LCIA ruling cannot be lawfully disclosed by the contending parties. You, Baring Vostok and agents for Mr Calvey appear, however, to have violated this. 

I request that you answer the following questions:

— have you read the LCIA ruling in part or whole?
— if you have not, how do you know, or through what source, what the ruling says?
— what relevance to this case is your characterization of Mr Avetisyan as “Kremlin-connected” and what is your evidence for the claim?
— have you read the terms of Mr Calvey’s agreement with Mr Avetisyan of 2016-2017 for the merger of their two banks, Vostochny and Uniastrum, including the value of the transaction?
— if you haven’t, how do you substantiate your editorial line in the story lead that Mr Avetisyan “attempted to seize control of a Russian bank”?

If you decline to reply, you will be reported as refusing to reply.

Yours faithfully,

John Helmer 

Dear John,

Thanks for your email.


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