Companies unknown in the world of business purchased the most valuable building land in the country from two state agencies in three transactions
By purchasing shares of Toriox, which is a company related to companies owned by Bogoljub Karić, Russian businessmen Alexey Gnedovsky and Dmitry Bugaenko became the owners of building land in Belgrade, previous location of “Nova livnica”.
Serbian public is not familiar with Toriox, one of nine newly founded companies that can be related to the Karić family and the one that in August last year purchased a 7.3-hectare parcel owned by “Nova livnica”. The process was organized by the Deposit Insurance Agency (AOD) and the price agreed was EUR 43 million.
A month and a half later, Russian Stroyinvest Construction, owned by Gnedovski and Bugaenko become the owner of Torioxus and thus obtained the land that is considered to be one of the most attractive in Serbia.
According to what VOICE has learnt, an investment fund is actually behind Gnedovski and Bugaenko and it is the beneficial owner of Stroyinvest Construction, LTD.
Stroyinvest Construction was registered in Moscow in 2018. The owner of this company is UK Veles Management. The owners of UK Veles Management are Alexey Gnedovsky and Dmitry Bugaenko.
This company is licensed to manage investment funds and pension funds not owned by the state. The license was issued by the Russian Federal Financial Markets Service and it does not have an expiration date.
The license for a professional trader of securities was issued by the Central bank of the Russian Federation. This license, too, has no expiration date.
Stroyinvest Construction registered engineering activities and other technical counselling as its main activity. Among other activities registered, there are real estate management based of financial compensation or contract, running a real estate agency, renting and managing its own or rented real estate, as well as real estate purchase and selling, construction of public utility facilities for electric power supply and communication.
The total revenue of this company in 2021 was in excess of EUR28.5 million. The average number of employees in the same year was seven.
None of these legal entities and individuals is on the sanction list issued by the EU, Great Britain and the USA, according to the information available to VOICE.
The fate of the most attractive building land in Belgrade: from the Karić, via Cyprus and Dubai to Russians
The road to owning the building land previously owned by Nova livnica in Novi Beograd since it was advertised for sale last year by the Deposit Insurance Agency (AOD) led from Serbia, via Cyprus and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), all the way to Russia.
The link is the Toriox company. In a very short period, from July 2022 when it was founded to September 2022, this company changed its beneficial owners, from Cyprian to Russian ones, but the Russian owners first had to work from Dubai.
As VOICE has already reported, the first buyer was Toriox, LLC from Belgrade, a company related to the Karić familiy.
This Belgrade-based company is part of Toriox Holdings LTD from Cyprus, while its director is a person called Marinos Stylianides.
This name is mentioned in the context of managerial positions in over one hundred companies from Cyprus. Among others, he is listed as the manager of Cyprian Dana holdings, which used to be owned by Bogoljub Karić’s family before the EU imposed sanctions on the Serbian businessman.
Winner company without capital
Toriox was founded in July 2022. On the other hand, this unknown company without capital won a public auction in August 2022 by offering EUR 43 million.
It is worth noting that nine legal entities related to the Karić family were registered in Serbia from the beginning of 2021 to the autumn of 2022. Toriox, LLC was one of them.
In September 2022, two months after the company was founded, the members changed and K-Port Development, LLC Beograd – Novi Beograd entered the picture.
Toriox Holdings from Cyprus was left with 50 percent of shares, while the remaining 50 percent went to K-Port. Furthermore, the beneficial owners changed and the beneficial owner with 50 percent of shares became Nikola Lazarević. 25 percent of shares is owned by Alexey Gnedovsky and Dmitry Bugenko.
K- Port Development was founded on July 18, 2022 and 100 percent of shares were owned by VGS General Trading L.L.C. from UAE. The address in in Dubai and the legal representative is Vesna Zdravković.
Already on September 29, this legal entity got new owners. It was completely taken over by Stroyinvest Construction from Russia. Gnedovsky and Bugaenko are listed as beneficiary owners and Vesna Zdravković is still a legal representative.
“Nova livnica” purchasing process
The assets of “Nova livnica” were sold within the scope of the bankruptcy proceedings set in motion by the debtor – Beobanka, JSC Belgrade, in bankruptcy. Being the administrative receiver, AOD advertised the sale of assets owned by Beobanka at the starting price of EUR 26,000,000.
As stipulated in a communication from the Commercial Court in Belgrade to VOICE of August 1, 2022, Toriox, one of five bidders, offered the highest price, i.e. EUR 43,160,000. That is 144 percent of the estimated value of the assets.
A contract on purchasing movable and immovable property of the debtor was concluded on August 12. A month later, the full purchasing price was paid, before the stipulated deadline.
Toriox bought 11 facilities of 38,815 square meters in total and 73,771 square meters of land in Omladinskih brigada Street in Novi Beograd.
AOD also sold IMT: two buyers bought 42.3 hectares of building land in Novi Beograd
The land owned by Livnica is adjacent to the allotment belonging to IMT, a former company whose assets were also partly sold at an auction organized by AOD.
The assets of both Livnica and IMT were sold within the scope of the bankruptcy proceedings of Beobanka. This bank had huge outstanding claims against these former industrial giants.
Apart from AOD, the IMT assets were also sold by the Bankruptcy Supervision Agency (ALSU).
The land previously owned by IMT (at least 35 hectares) and Livnica (7.3 hectares) is considered to be the most attractive location for building in Serbia. The general urban plan of the City of Belgrade confirms that a huge residential and office complex should be built at that location.
Before the Russians entered the picture, two main players at these public auctions were Karić’s Toriox and ABL Solvent, owned by Davor Macura.
The auction organized by ALSU saw little known and then-insolvent company owned by Davor Macura, ABL Solvent managed to get hold of some assets of IMT. To be more precise, it became the owner of the building land in Novi Beograd.
This company bought the rest of the land that used to belong to IMT in the procedure organized by AOD, thus becoming the owner of the whole 35-hectare allotment. The neighboring allotment (owned by Livnica) was bought by Toriox through AOD.
In a nutshell, companies unknown in the world of business used three transactions to buy the most valuable building land in the country from two state agencies. One location was sold by ALSU and the other by AOD.
VOICE has discovered that AOD breached the Law on Bankruptcy in 2021, when it sold the property worth EUR 1.82 billion for only 51 million to an insolvent company ABL Solvent.
The state allowed a completely unknown and problematic buyer at that time to get hold of such a great outstanding debt of eight banks in bankruptcy, including part of the complex owned by former IMT. It was the most valuable sale of many that AOD has organized as the administrative receiver.
Apart from having a state agency accepting such a scandalously low price, this sale was also problematic because it was the only one where AOD “forgot” to ask the interested parties to pay a deposit for taking part in the auction as a sign they were serious buyers.
The connection between the owners of the allotment previously owned by IMT and the allotment managed by “Nova livnica” is a bank. Alta bank is related to ABL Solvent and Davor Macura, and it also appeared as a bidder at the auction for the IMT land, organized by AOD. Both Toriox and K-port have accounts at Alta bank.
VOICE has sent questions to Toriox, K-Port Development and Stroyinvest Construction regarding the planned investments on the land in Novi Beograd. We have not received any reply.
Slađana Gluščević and Miloš Katić (cover illustration: Boris Gluščević)