Gold mine veteran Peter Hambro has made an emotional plea for private shareholders, urging them to intervene after the board of the company he founded 26 years ago has been ousted.
He said that a vote this week is an opportunity for “knowledgeable” shareholders to decide Petropavlovsk’s future worth £ 1.3 billion, following a shock vote in June that fired seven directors.
Canadian pension fund Prosperity has submitted a proposal with about one fifth of the shares to restore Pavel Maslovskiy, co-founder of Hambro, and some others. It faces the activist Everest Alliance who has proposed an alternative board.
Horrified: Peter Hambro hopes for a coup reversal
The Everest Alliance is overseen by Nikolai Lustiger, a mysterious Russian businessman sought after by police 15 years ago after being accused by his estranged wife of kidnapping their two-year-old daughter.
Everest and UGC – a private company run by Russian billionaire Konstantin Strukov – stood behind the summer commission.
The turmoil surrounding Petropavlovsk is reflected amid growing concerns about the influence of Russian interests in the UK.
Hambro said many small shareholders – believed to make up 10 percent of the company’s stock – didn’t vote in June and could now decide the future of the company.
“I’m sad there is a fight,” said Hambro, who now owns less than 1 percent of the company and seemed visibly appalled by the floor. “It’s not the happy ending of the story I’d hoped for.”
But he added, “[This] is an opportunity for all shareholders to make an informed judgment as to who they want to run the company. ‘
Hambro emphasized that he was speaking as a private shareholder after an Everest Alliance court order was imposed on him as acting chairman last month. He said that the vote to expel the directors in June turned out to be “such an anodyne affair” beforehand, so “a lot of people didn’t really vote.”
Ultimately, two other investment vehicles – Slevin and Fortiana Holdings – supported Strukov and Lustiger. Their 39 percent combined vote was enough to win the day, as only 77 percent of the shareholders’ votes were cast.
Rival: Russian billionaire Konstantin Strukov
Acting Director Alya Samokhvalova responded in June by asking the UK Takeover Panel to investigate whether two or more parties have worked together to relieve Maslovskiy’s board of directors.
Everest denied allegations that it was trading with UGC, adding that it had also reported wealth and ‘certain directors and managers’ to the acquisition panel
A divided board and the court order mean that the circular issued to shareholders last week detailing the prosperity details and proposals of the Everest Alliance omits the board’s usual recommendations on many resolutions.
Hambro, of the famous banking dynasty, said: ‘Prosperity, the second largest shareholder, has dedicated the names of some of the previous directors, because those are the people who have done such remarkable work for the company in recent years. . ‘
However, Everest said it had decided that the company was pursuing the wrong strategy, was not accountable to shareholders, and “refused to explain management and strategic choices.”
Impostor: a woman named Valeria Strukova, billed as Strukov’s daughter
Over the past decade, Petropavlovsk has invested heavily to position itself as one of the largest refractory gold producers in Russia – a method of extracting gold particles from other rocks. Hambro said, “I am delighted at how successful the company is and very grateful to all the people who have worked so hard to make it work.”
In May, it was reported that a merger of UCG and Petropavlovsk was pending – something UGC has denied. If a deal goes through, it will become the largest gold miner in Russia. Last week, the situation got even more difficult after Petropavlovsk’s auditor PwC stepped down.
PwC said it “cannot accept their proposed appointment at this time” because of “concerns about corporate governance standards.”
It said this means that the company “does not currently have an appointed auditor” and that “full satisfactory background checks” on new directors would be required before reassessing its position.
Lustiger’s estranged wife accused him in 2005 of kidnapping daughter Lillian in London and smuggling her abroad after spending a day with the then two-year-old.
Four years later, David Armond, of the international division of the UK’s Serious Organized Crime Agency on the TV show America’s Most Wanted, said: ‘One of the people we really want to track down is Nikolay Lustiger, an American citizen living in Russia Born . He kidnapped his daughter and fled the country. ‘
Last night, Everest said that Lustiger’s ex-wife had filed the kidnapping accusation as part of a “multi-judicial divorce proceeding … The California court ruled in his favor, dismissing lawsuits in all jurisdictions. The child spends time with both her parents whenever she wants. ‘
Lustiger led institutional sales at a cryptocurrency firm, CyberTrust, which raised $ 10 million in an “ initial coin offering ” in 2017.
After a warning from the regulator in Luxembourg about CyberTrust, the company – whose parent company was called CABS Platform – canceled the increase and returned the money to investors. A few months later, CABS Platform bought an interest in Petropavlovsk, which raised questions about the source of the funds. A few months later, CABS changed its name to the Everest Alliance.
Lustiger said that all of the money from the coin offering had been returned to investors and had not been used to buy the Petropavlovsk shares – and he never had a criminal conviction.
Meanwhile, a woman named Valeria Strukova, billed as Strukov’s daughter, gave an interview to Tatler four years ago in which she said her father was her role model and gave her a music studio. A Strukov representative described her as an “impostor” last night.
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