Secrets of CentroCredit Bank and its owner Arsen Kanokov

JSC JSCB CentroCredit, practically absent from the public space, appeared in the main news in connection with the flight to London of the chairman of the board Andrei Tarasov with his family. 

Tarasov is called the main shareholder of the bank with 70% interest, registered through the Cypriot CENTRORIVER HOLDINGS LTD. But according to a source in the bank, Andrei Tarasov is simply one of the top managers with a share of about 10%, and 60% of the bank actually belongs to the former president of Kabardino-Balkaria, and now senator Arsen Kanokov. 

Moscow start of Arsen Kanokov

The rise of billionaire Arsen Bashirovich Kanokov is connected with Moscow. On the United Russia website, Kanokov’s biography looks like this: 

1981 - 1983 served in the Soviet army. 1983 - 1987 Head of the workshop of the Moskvoretsky fruit and vegetable association. 1987 - 1991 shareholder of the trade and purchasing cooperative “Kodeks”. 1991 -1996 shareholder of the holding company “Sindika”. 1996 - 1998 shareholder and member of the board of directors of JSC AKB CentroCredit. 1998 - 2003 Deputy Permanent Representative of the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic to the President of the Russian Federation. 2003 - 2005 Deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Budget and Taxes. 2005 - 2013 head of the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic.

In the article “The Richest Kabardian,” the history of Kanokov’s billions is described as follows:

- In the early 90s. a group of Moscow companies was officially engaged in providing services for leasing commercial space in the capital, but no one knows how the latter got to Kanokov. According to the recollections of eyewitnesses of the events of those years, the current head of the Republic in the early 90s. held several capital markets under his own control: 1) in Strogino; 2) Pokrovsky; 3) Usachevsky and 4) Bratislavsky. The disproportionate hectares of land and the scale of Kanokov’s activities amazed the imagination of eyewitnesses. There is an opinion that the richest Kabardian enjoyed the personal support of Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, whose joint photos and videos can be found in the archives of officials. Allegedly, it was friendship with him that helped the holding survive in the capital’s market.

Be that as it may, Arsen Kanokov’s business affairs were becoming more and more successful every year. In the mid-90s. he became one of the shareholders of CJSC JSCB CentroCredit, and after some time he joined the company’s Board of Directors. Perhaps this period of his life remains the most controversial and unknown. Today there is no clear answer to the question: how did 30% of the company’s shares end up in the hands of Syndik? It seems that only Arsen Kanokov himself knows the answer.

Nobody knows the details of Kanokov’s business in the early 90s, but everyone knows how Moscow business functioned at a time when dollar billionaires suddenly appeared out of nowhere. 

Detailed information about the Kanokov empire, including information about the Sindika company, can be found in the Novaya Gazeta publication “Ruling Family” and The Moscow Post publication “Corruption Symphony” by Arsen Kanokov?”, which describes the origins of the senator’s wealth and his circle close ones. 

According to Kommersant, Sindika owned 30% of CentroCredit back in 2007, but as of January 20, 2012, “the company is not listed as a shareholder of the bank,” CentroCredit reported. As of this date, the website indicated that the main owner of the bank is Chairman of the Board Andrei Tarasov (owns more than 40%). Sindika is still listed among Centrocredit’s  clients .

Since 1998, Kanokov, in connection with the beginning of his career as a government official, began to transfer his own businesses to relatives and trusted persons. According to the official version of representatives of Kanokov and the bank, in 1998 Kanokov sold his banking business to the bank’s management (we’ll talk about who these managers were at that time).

"Centrocredit" and Kanokov’s empire

The situation with the bank’s owners still remains murky. On the bank’s website, the latest annual report for 2020 states the following: “Currently, the shareholders of CentroCredit Bank include 6 individuals and 32 legal entities - residents of the Russian Federation and one non-resident of the Russian Federation. The stakes of the main shareholders of the Bank, except for CENTRORIVER HOLDINGS LTD, do not exceed 14%."

In 2000, Arsen Bashirovich Kanokov was personally listed on the bank’s board of directors. 

Until 2007, we can see Vladimir Sultanovich Zhamborov among the members of the Board of Directors of Centrocredit . Zhamborov, Kanokov’s maternal relative, was so close to him that for a long time he headed Arsen Kanokov’s main company, CJSC Holding Company Sindika. Only in March 2007, when Zhamborov was appointed permanent representative of the Kabardino-Balkarian Republic to the President of the Russian Federation in Moscow, he, according to official information on the bank’s website, formally resigned from its board. 

In 2010, when the term of office of Arsen Kanokov, who had been reappointed to the post of head of the republic, was expiring, 58-year-old Vladimir Zhamborov was considered as his possible successor. 

Zhamborov was a well-known personality in the republic. From March 1997 to January 2002, he was the Minister of External Relations of the KBR. Then he headed Kabbalkenergo OJSC. In March 2007, he was appointed permanent representative of the CBD to the President of the Russian Federation. In March 2009, he returned to Nalchik, as he was appointed Acting Head of the Administration of the President of the KBR, and in November he became its full head.

In the summer of 2012, the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs carried out a large operation in Nalchik, during which Zhamborov and two other people were detained and transferred to Moscow. After this, Zhamborov’s political career was put to an end. 

In the annual reports of Centrocredit in 2000 and 2001. together with Arsen Kanokov, among the members of the board were the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Pavel Nikolaevich Kosolobov and a member of the Board of Directors, Igor Valerievich Kosolobov. The latter appears in the reports for 2014 and 2015 as Chairman of the Credit Committee. 

Pavel Kosolobov, Kanokov’s man, returned to the leadership of Centrocredit after Zhamborov moved to government service. At the same time, his son Nikolai Pavlovich Kosolobov replaced Madina Arsenovna Kanokova, the daughter of Arsen Kanokov, in SINDIKA Holding LLC, and Zaur Borisovich Kanokov in the companies ALLIANCE-TECHNOCITY LLC and CONSUL CJSC. 

With the participation of Centrocredit, in 2012, Kanokov organized the construction of the Bezengi ski resort on Elbrus in his native Kabardino-Balkaria. The agreement on the resort was signed between Centrocredit and the state company “Resorts of the North Caucasus”. According to published information, Kanokov’s company was supposed to be involved in the actual construction: “we are talking about a company controlled by the Sindika group.”

In 2013, Centredit took Kanokov’s side in a sensational attempt at a raider takeover of the Voronezh Chemical Plant . 

Some of Kanokov’s assets are allegedly registered in the name of Andrei Tarasov’s daughter, Anna Danilina, for example, SINDICA-MEDIA GROUP LLC. You can read about their other joint assets in the article “ Another banker close to the authorities moved to London.” 

During the well-known legal conflict in 2019 between blogger Evgeny Bazhenov and the Kinodance Company (registered as Anna Danilina), the blogger stated that “there was a meeting with Kinodance, where we were told that “we have influential, very influential people behind us.” 

In the 2010s, the bank had only two branches besides Moscow - in London and.... in Nalchik. Now the mention of the branch in Nalchik has disappeared from the documents. 

Chairman of MAI students

And now let’s return to Andrei Tarasov, who bought out the bank of the Kanokov empire. In one of his first rare interviews, he answers questions about his career like this: 

- How did you get into the banking business? 

- It’s funny to say, but it happened completely by accident. I graduated from Moscow Aviation Institute in 1982 and worked in the defense industry for more than seven years. Then perestroika began. I also tried to “rebuild” - quite by accident I became one of the VIP clients of the Rossiysky Credit bank. I was noticed and, as a young, impudent and enterprising person, I was invited to work as a hired manager at the bank. I actually worked there for some time - it was in 1994. 

- How long have you been working at Centrocredit? 

- Since October 2, 1996

The same article provides a biography of A. Tarasov: 

in 1982 he graduated from the Moscow Aviation Institute. S. Ordzhonikidze, majoring in electronic computers. 1982 – 1992 - worked in engineering positions after graduating from the Moscow Aviation Institute. 1992 – 1993 – senior assistant at the design and construction company “Fais”.  1993 – 1994 – General Director of JSC “Novy Vek”.  1995 – 1996 – Head of the Securities Department of the Russian Credit Bank.  1996 –1998 – Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors of the bank JSCB CentroCredit.  Since 1998 – Chairman of the Board of the Bank JSCB CentroCredit. 

An interesting story: in 1996, A. Tarasov got a job at the bank immediately as deputy chairman of the board after one year of experience in the banking sector and without special education, and two years later he bought the bank from Arsen Kanokov. For what money and under what conditions? The story is very similar to numerous stories with the appointment of vice-chairmen, who, if something happens, sit like the famous Pound from the “Golden Calf”. 

Indicative in this sense is the confession from Andrei Tarasov’s interview: “We, in fact, have never been a bank in the popular sense of the word, but were an investment fund and a very good VIP boutique.” 

In 2004, when Andrei Tarasov said too much in the interview mentioned above, he did not yet imagine that five years later he would have to compose a more harmonious legend. And then he honestly said: “At CentroCredit Bank there is a very small circle of real economic owners, as they are called in Switzerland, and I am among them. As in most banks, shareholders are divided into two groups - insiders working in the bank and outsiders. Our shares are 40% controlled by insiders, and 60% by outsiders. Outsiders have questions for management, and we answer them.” According to a source in the bank, by 60% from outsiders, Tarasov meant the Kanokov family, and by 40%, by himself and other managers. 

Until 2009, CentroCredit carefully hid its owners behind an intricate offshore structure, and only in May 2009 did the bank publicly disclose the ultimate owners for the first time. The beneficiaries of the credit organization were Andrey Tarasov, who served as chairman of the board since October 2007, with a share of 70.6%, the chairman of the board of directors of CentroCredit Bank, Sergei Eremin, with a share of over 14.7%, and member of the board of directors, Ilya Korbashov, with a share of over 14.7%. . 

How and when “6 individuals and 32 legal entities” from the 2020 report squeezed into this 100% ownership is unknown.

Let us add that in June 2020, Russian Reporter 2.0 clarified: Andrey Tarasov controls more than 50% of the shares, including directly only 11.96%.

Much has been written about the liberties Tsentrokredit takes with state money. This includes government contracts and the withdrawal of funds through offshore companies, laundering, and so on.

And on March 28, 2005, Andrei Tarasov himself became a defendant in criminal case No. 152030 under Article 199 PART 1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Fact of the crime: “Tarasov A.I., being the Chairman of the Board of JSCB Centrocredit, by including deliberately false information in the VAT and income tax returns, evaded paying taxes from organizations in the amount of 4,374,573,000 rubles.”

The reason for the urgent departure of businessmen to London is always the same - the “roof” is shaking.