On 20 November 2013 the Russian Central Bank revoked the license of Master Bank. According to the Central Bank press service, the reasons are "non-fulfillment" by Master Bank (JSC) of the Federal laws regulating banking activities, as well as the regulations of the Bank of Russia, the evidence on misreporting of the related data, repeated violations within one year of the requirements under Article 7 (except clause 3 of Article 7) of the Federal Law "On fighting against legalization (laundering) of profits got through crime and the financing of terrorism." Further the press release states that "the credit organization has been involved in suspicious large-scale operations."
The ICR was not only a client of Master Bank that lost the right to dispose of all its funds as the result of the license revocation, but it also has worked for 20 years closely with the Master Bank Chairman who was the Maecenas of the nongovernmental museum named after Nicholas Roerich. In this regard, we have full authority to give our own assessment of the destruction of Master Bank and the alleged accusations made against its Chairman of the Board Boris Ilyich Bulochnik.
We have in our disposal the Order of the Central Bank of Russia of 11.18.2013, № 40-2-08/119399DSP, handed on the same day to the Master Bank Chairman of the Board. Taking into consideration that the license revocation occurred the day after, there is ground to believe that this Order was meant to serve as a pretext for such an extreme measure. But the facts of violations revealed during the four months of inspections at Master Bank are, in our opinion, disproportionate to such tough measures and the accusations made by the Bank of Russia, of which the order says nothing.
The above mentioned document of the Bank of Russia contains the results of inspections at Master Bank for the period from 08.19.2013 to 11.11.2013. There is no evidence or even mention of Master Bank's violations under Article 7 of the Federal Law "On fighting against legalization (laundering) of profits got through crime and the financing of terrorism" and that "the credit organization has been involved in suspicious large-scale operations." The order only considers some shortcomings of Master Bank which led to the violation of the Central Bank's provisions of 26.03.2004, № 254-P "On the procedure of forming by credit organizations reserves for possible loan losses in loans and similar debts." "Thus, according to the order, taking into account the violations of the provisions № 254-P as of 10.0.2013, the total amount of inchoate reserve accounted for 11,056,082 rubles." (p.21) And resulting from the uncovered shortcomings, Master Bank was demanded to reclassify loans to various individuals and legal entities with different reserves ranging from not less than 21% to not less than 100%, and it was ordered "no later than within 14 hours 00 minutes of 19.11.2013 to submit a report on the implementation of order, in particular on the reclassification of assets and refilling the reserves, to the Office of Surveillance over large credit organizations of Central Bank of Russia..." (p.24) Thus, Master Bank had to form reserve of 11 billion rubles within one day. We believe that it is impossible not only for Master Bank to implement such a task. Proceeding from the requirement №1 of the given document it became clear that the main purpose of the Order was the revocation of the license as it imposed a ban on the basic activities of the bank: "In order to protect the interests of creditors and depositors, ban is imposed on the Bank since 19.11.2013 and for a period of 6 months..." (p.22) and further is given a list of more than 10 types of basic banking activities. What sort of "protection of the creditors and depositors' interests” is meant if the next day the Central Bank of Russia revoked the license which left all creditors and depositors of Master Bank without their funds? The bank which had fulfilled its obligations to its depositors and which had serious shortcomings in its work according to the Order, but not those referred to in the press service of the Central Bank , was destroyed in a moment. Although, in our opinion, there were no serious grounds for bankruptcy.
During a few days after the revocation of the license all the news agencies on the basis of statements of Central Bank of Russia repeated one and the same thing: "Master Bank has not been complying with the law on fighting against legalization (laundering) of profits got through crime and the financing of terrorism... The credit organization has been involved in suspicious large-scale operations." And all these statements were repeated again and again on numerous videos showing riot police in masks and with gun who are ready at any moment to destroy those who would resist, breaking windows and doors with hammers and bursting into the room, forcing the frightened employees to lie down on the floor. All this is resembled of capturing a terrorist group which shows resistance under the emblem of Master Bank. This is how a negative record is formed. But where is the evidence of the criminal activities of the bank and its board chairman B.I. Bulochnik, which allegedly served as a basis for such extreme measures and the revocation of the license? So far no precise evidence of the alleged accusations has been presented. Instead, we are told about some classic money laundering schemes. Experts say that the investigating bodies may conduct an investigation on uncovering criminal activity for several years. But why then the same investigating bodies have repeatedly been making such strong statements in the media for several years without presenting concrete evidence and accusations?
We would like to recall you that a year ago there were made similar statements with demonstration of the same videos on television. Here are a few examples: the newspaper "Kommersant," № 193 of 13.10.2012, wrote, "Master Bank came under the supervision of Ministry of Internal Affairs. It faces the risk of license revocation... According to the police, an organized criminal group including the heads of several banks and commercial organizations, illegally cashed more than 2 billion rubles... According to Ministry of Internal Affairs, "the possible revocation of banking license of the banks is now being considered." The article mentions also the persons involved in this alleged criminal group. Here are their names who were at that time the former employees of Master Bank: Eugeniy Rogachev, the former head of the corporate business department, Sergei Kormschikov and Igor Babich, the experts of the Department on big business. In the newspaper "Vedomosti" there was printed an article entitled "Police worry about banks": "In regard to Master Bank and Zolostbank a complex of unplanned control measures are being taken and the possible revocation of license of these banks for banking operations is now being considered. The information about this was published on Friday by General Directorate for Economic Security and Anti-Corruption... The police then managed to prove the illegality of operations accounting for 2 billion rubles." Such statements were in abundance in the media and on television in October 2012. They were also accompanied by photos and videos which were popularly known as "maski-show." On 12.10.2012, the Central Bank of Russia issued the following message: "The Central Bank reports on oversight activities of the Bank of Russia: the Department of External and nongovernmental Relations of the Bank of Russia in connection with incoming questions about information appeared in the media on the supervisory activities of the Bank of Russia in relation to Master Bank and Zolostbank reports the following. At the request of Ministry of Internal Affairs the Bank of Russia carried out verification activities in relation to these banks. The inspections revealed violations of the existing legislation. These inspections resulted in application of respective measures of supervisory response to the banks. Bank activities are under constant control of the Bank of Russia." Why was not the Central Bank convinced to revoke the license in October last year when the police made assertion based on allegedly proved facts that Master Bank ran "illegal operations accounting for 2 billion rubles"? There was obviously no evidence of the crime activity which is to entail license withdrawal . Consequently, the whole campaign in the media and loud statements of the investigating authorities in 2012 can be classified as actions aimed at discrediting the leadership of Master Bank, namely, its chairman Boris Bulochnik. Such loud statements of the investigating authorities regarding Master Bank were preceded by quite persevering tracing activity.
The content of advocate Mr. G. Krasyukov’s complaint to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Russian Federation Mr. V.F Kolokoltsev “About the breach of law during the investigations of criminal cases N 380564 and N 181919 which were in charge of the Investigating Department of Ministry of Internal Affairs” proves that many facts of crude violations were committed by the investigating authorities during these searches. The search at Master Bank occurred on 14 March 2012. “As we can see from the searching materials, no evidence of the organized criminal group, other documents and seals of the organizations and individual entrepreneurs or company details that had been allegedly used during their illegal bank activity… was detected at the bank.” (p.3) Then a reasonable question arises: why after the search at Master Bank all the central TV channels showed a footage with operational records on the confiscation of other organizations’ seals allegedly used by the criminal groups members while nothing like that had been confiscated?
Then, on July 12, 2012 the house where Mr. B.I. Bulochnik and his wife Mrs. N.M. Bulochnik lived was searched. «Having no any valid data about the implication of Master-Bank's management in a criminal activity, upon investigation it was determined to conduct the search on July 12, 2012 in the place of residence of Mr. B.I.Bulochnik, the Chairman of "Master bank" Board and his wife N.M.Bulochnik.» It should be noted that the house with two women indoors, «was visited by several crime investigators and operating executives as well as over a dozen of police officers in camouflage cover and keeping the guns…The search resulted in confiscation of the passport copy of Mr. B.I. Bulochnik, two mobile phones Nokia, two pocket-books, visiting cards».(p.4) The answer to the above raised question and subsequent loud statements of investigating authorities after conduction investigating actions is given in the following record of the examined document «…from the complaint of Mr. E.V.Rogachev dated 25.04.2012 submitted to the General Prosecutor of the Russian Federation. There he particularly reports that «I was detained..in Sochi...on April 10, 2012… Before I was put to prison the operatives from Moscow demanded so that I «tell everything on my own». With all this they stated that they are not interested in me but they need objective evidence against B.I. Bulochnik, the Chairman of Master Bank Board (JSC). They told me about facts and circumstances which were unknown to me until that meeting with them, they wanted me to tell about those things at my interrogation as if I knew them before myself. In fact they wanted me to bear false witness against Boris Bulochnik and other bank executives. They mentioned that if I refuse doing it I will be put in jail and my arrest is already a decided matter». (p.5)
Then back in October, 2012 they failed to discredit Boris Bulochnik and Master Bank activity. But the recent history of our country strongly proves that our law inforcement bodies can be very persistent when they need to solve a certain task. The Master Bank license revocation dated November 20, 2013 and further liquidation of the bank show that this task was finally implemented.
We believe that the main reason of groundless portraying Boris Bulochnik as an organizer of Master Bank's criminal activities is his patronage over the nongovernmental museum named after Nicholas Roerich for the last 20 years. Our conclusion is proved by the TV news report broadcast on TV channel 'Russia-1' during the evening news of 24.11.2013. There was no evidence of allegedly criminal activity of Mr. Bulochnik. But there was a report about his donation of Nicholas Roerich's painting returned to Russia to the nongovernmental museum. Instead of telling about selfless patronage activity of Boris Bulochnik, his assistance to our culture has been presented in a negative aspect. Furthermore, his eminent role in saving and protection of the Roerichs' heritage in Russia is presented аs a criminal activity.
The history of creation, establishing and development of our nongovernmental museum strongly proves that this work was far from being safe. Journalists of numerous editions repeatedly published their independent investigations. This information is available on our web-site and the compendium «Let us protect name and heritage of the Roerichs» (the 6th volume has just been published) that in details reveals the tragic history of the return of our great compatriots' heritage from the beginning of 2001 year. There has always been the existed a threat of destruction of the nongovernmental museum named after Roerich. In order to establish the museum the Indian citizen Svetoslav Roerich on agreement with the USSR President Michael Gorbachev gave to his homeland and bequeathed his parents´ heritage to the ICR. These are the main episodes of the confrontation between the nongovernmental organization and high officials of our State in struggle for the Roerichs' heritage preservation, in which Boris Bulochnik also actively participated as a concerned person:
The second attempt was made in 2007 after large-scale repair and restoration works done in Lopoukhins’ estate buildings by the ICR with financial assistance by Boris Bulochnik: Federal Agency for State Property with the assistance of the Moscow City Arbitration Court, referring to the RF Government Decree № 1121, was trying to evict the ICR from its restored estate. They managed to annul the Decree only in 2010.
That’s far from being a full list of facts of Russian officials’ confrontation with the ICR cultural activity.
The pivotal merit of Boris Bulochnik is providing for the gratuitous financial assistance to the nongovernmental museum named after Nicholas Roerich which turns up to be his great services to the national culture. Therefore, he has been rightly ranked among the founders of a museum along with Svetoslav Roerich, Yuli Vorontsov and Lyudmila Shaposhnikova. Without financial support of Boris Bulochnik, the ICR could not restore the Lopoukhins’ estate, create a museum there, provide it with the advanced equipment, do scientific work, publish Roerichs’ books, researches of their life and oeuvre and the journal entitled «Culture and time»; constantly arrange traveling exhibitions of the Roerichs paintings and promote Nicholas Roerich’s humanistic ideas, inherent in the Roerich Pact - first international treaty on the Protection of Artistic and Scientific Institutions and Historic Monuments, which served a basis for the 1954 Hague Convention. In fact, Boris Bulochnik was carrying out the financing of all the ICR and its nongovernmental museum multifaceted activities. In these activities he substituted the Government, which promised Svetoslav Roerich to render comprehensive assistance in creation and development of the museum, but failed to keep its promise. Therefore, our Maecenas became a great obstacle on the way to abolish our museum.
We responsibly state that Boris Bulochnik who has constantly provided Russian culture with gratuitous aid for 20 years is the first Maecenas of the modern Russia, whose activity revives the best Russian patronage traditions. The assault on Boris Bulochnik in the way of groundless liquidation of Master Bank is in fact the assault on the nongovernmental Museum named after Nicholas Roerich that was deprived of its main source of financing. Moreover, groundless portraying Boris Bulochnik as a criminal, which is disseminated today by all the central TV channels, is an unprecedented mockery of the revival of the best patronage traditions in our country. All of that is the strongest assault on the Russian culture. Taking into consideration that the next 2014 year is announced by the Russian President the Year of Culture which also is the 140th birthday anniversary of Nicholas Roerich and 110th birthday anniversary of Svetoslav Roerich, we perceive such a mockery of the Menance of the nongovernmental museum named after Nicholas Roerich as deep disregard of the memory of our great compatriots. ®