MOSCOW, July 14 (RAPSI) – Pavel Skurikhin, the founder of the Siberian Agrarian Holding Group (SAHO) of companies, can be held in contempt of  a British court for ignoring its request to disclose information about his assets abroad and for failing to attend court hearings, Kommersant newspaper writes on Monday.

Skurikhin, who owes VTB about 1.8 billion rubles ($53 million), did not attend the June 12 hearing at the High Court. The law firm Fried Frank, which previously represented the Russian businessman, said they had terminated their relationship with him over his failure to pay for services rendered.
Skurikhin was to provide a written statement on his assets (statement estimated at £15,000) and to repay VTB’s legal fees (£23,000) by July 7.

Kommersant writes that the London court ruled in favor of VTB and also issued an injunction to freeze Skurikhin’s assets, estimated at up to £25 million around the world, excluding Russia, Belarus, China and Cuba. The injunction covers Skurikhin’s real property, shares and loans at UK and Swiss companies, Liechtenstein and Nevis trusts, as well as assets in Italian companies, including his wife’s beauty parlor in Bologna and mini bakeries in Italy.

Since neither Skurikhin nor his representatives attended the hearing, the court ruling was emailed to him on June 13.

Siberian Agrarian Holding Group (SAHO) is a large group of companies that operate in a variety of agricultural businesses including: pesticide production, grain production and processing, bread baking and the manufacture of baking equipment. SAHO also owns large tracts of agricultural land.
In 2007-2010, VTB lent a total of 1.4 billion rubles (over $40 million) to ten SAHO companies against Skurikhin’s guarantees. In 2010, the borrowers stopped servicing the loans. VTB filed claims with Russian courts in Omsk and obtained repayment judgments.

Since a considerable proportion of the debtor’s assets are located in England, VTB also obtained injunctions to freeze his assets there. In 2012, the High Court froze Skurikhin’s assets in England as well as the assets of two English LLPs affiliated with him.