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Ex-Rosneft CEO Says Rothschild Drained His Funds Via Kickbacks

Christian Berthelsen
·2 mins read

(Bloomberg) -- A former chief executive of Russian oil company Rosneft has accused one of Europe’s oldest banks of conspiring with New York brokers in a kickback scheme that caused him to lose more than half of his $150 million investment portfolio.

Sergei Bogdanchikov accused banking group Edmond de Rothschild of steering his funds to a pair of New York firms that he says lost money on bad investments and charged inflated fees to kick commissions back to the bank. The bank also used the now-defunct Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca to form shell companies to hide the scheme, according to a lawsuit Bogdanchikov filed in New York state court on Wednesday.

Rothschild issued falsified account statements to Bogdanchikov showing the value of his assets growing, papering over tens of millions of dollars in losses from inflated commissions and wrong-way bets, including one on a convertible bond for an Indian company that went bankrupt, according to the complaint. In all, Bogdanchikov claims he lost $81 million of his original principal.

One of the firms that handled the money, Fontanelle Capital Inc., lists its business address at an apartment building in Brighton Beach, a New York neighborhood that is home to a large Russian immigrant population. The other firm, OIM Capital LLC, was founded just months before it began managing Bogdanchikov’s funds. OIM owner Mikhail Filimonov lives with the ex-wife of Fontanelle’s co-owner, Vladimir Oblonsky, according to the suit.

Among the evidence offered in the suit, Bogdanchikov’s lawyers cite a March 2014 email from a Rothschild executive to Oblonsky saying: “Pls credit my Q4 comm to my AB card” and “You have to pay me.”

Messages left for representatives of Edmond de Rothschild in France seeking comment on the suit weren’t returned late Friday evening in Europe. A message left at Filimonov’s home wasn’t returned. Oblonsky and his wife, Fontanelle co-owner Olga Oblonsky, are both named as defendants. Messages seeking comment on the suit that were left on mobile phone numbers registered to the couple weren’t returned.

OIM Capital terminated its investment adviser registration in June. In its last filing, it listed four clients in pooled investment vehicles with assets under management of less than $26 million.

Bogdanchikov had sued Rothschild earlier in Europe but didn’t learn about the alleged role of the New York brokers until this year, according to the suit.

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