Health fears for Petropavlovsk co-founder in Russian prison

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The family of Pavel Maslovskiy, co-founder of London-listed gold producer Petropavlovsk, are increasingly concerned for the businessman’s health as he languishes in a Moscow prison cell for fraud.

“He was already skinny when he got there and now he asked for another set of clothes which makes us believe he is thinner than before,” his son Alexei Maslovskiy told the Financial Times. “He also suffers from physical and mental pain. “

Pavel, 64, was arrested in Moscow on December 24 for fraud. If found guilty, he faces 10 years in prison. His detention came after the Russian FSB was asked to investigate a real estate transaction to see if it was over-priced. In 2018, a subsidiary of Petropavlovsk bought an office building from Maslovskiy and his son.

One of the complaints was filed by Maxim Kharin, the candidate for the board of directors of Petropavlovsk’s largest shareholder, UGC, a rival Russian gold miner controlled by billionaire Konstantin Strukov.

Alexei said his father’s arrest was “illegal” and described his detention in prison as a “violation of basic human rights”.

“The detention has been extended for three months. He will therefore be in prison at least until August 27, ”he said. “We are concerned about his health as he had filed numerous complaints with the medical authorities at the detention center.”

Petropavlovsk has a market value of almost £ 1 billion and is one of Russia’s largest gold producers. It was founded by Pavel in 1994 with Peter Hambro, a descendant of the London banking dynasty.

The company, which has suffered from years of shareholder feuds, faced further turmoil last year after Pavel was dismissed as chief executive by UGC and a group of other shareholders at its AGM .

He then accused UGC of trying to stealthily take control of the company and called on UK and Russian regulators to investigate.

UGC has always denied the allegations and the UK Takeover Panel recently concluded that there was insufficient evidence to conclude that UGC was acting in concert with other shareholders.

Alexei, who is based in London, said the deal cited in the Russian criminal indictment against his father was “trumped up”.

“It’s something they concocted to get my dad off the stage because he has popular support within Petropavlovsk. He had to be stopped. And the best way to shut him up is to shut him down. ‘isolate in a detention center.

Alexei, who is the subject of a criminal investigation in Russia, claimed that the real estate transaction was approved by the Petropavlovsk audit committee and board of directors.

“Everyone has been discussing this transaction,” he said. Petropavlovsk declined to comment.

Once the remedies were exhausted, Alexei said he would take his father’s case to the European Court of Human Rights. “Most likely, we will never see him again,” he said.

After Maslovskiy’s ouster last year, the company launched an investigation into related party transactions.

In its annual report released last week, Petropavlovsk said its KPMG forensic auditors had already “identified a number of potentially worrying arrangements, worth at least $ 134 million, involving undisclosed related parties and probable conflicts of interest ”.

“Other areas also remain under investigation, including significant historic transactions,” adds the annual report.

Alexei also said he planned to write to British Secretary of State Kwasi Kwarteng asking him to open an investigation into Petropavlovsk.



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