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State Bank Lodges Multiple Lawsuits Against Miory “Rescued” By Officials

State Bank Lodges Multiple Lawsuits Against Miory “Rescued” By Officials

Earlier, the owner of the plant was detained.

Almost a year after special services detained the management of the private enterprise Miory Steel, and the authorities began to actively “rescue” the plant, the enterprise had problems with paying off the debt to Belarusbank. The financial institution lodged lawsuits because of this. Recall that Prime Minister Raman Halouchanka recently announced the success of the enterprise, which actually came under the leadership of the authorities, writes zerkalo.io.

Details of the Belarusbank cases against the Miory plant

This year, Belarusbank filed at least six lawsuits against MMPZ group Ltd. This information is available on the website of the Supreme Court. In all hearings, the judges decided in favour of the bank. In total, the obligations amount to hundreds of thousands of euros. For example, the amount of one of the claims exceeds € 277,000, another — € 244,000.

Belarusbank financed the purchase of the main technological equipment. In 2015, the company took out a loan to finance the supply of technological equipment from Germany. “credit contracts were signed for a total amount of 106.2 million euros at the expense of the resources of the German bank AKA Ausfuhrkredit-Gesellschaft mbH,” the bank’s press service reported. To do this, Belarusbank attracted funds from German banks. The plant clarified that loans were taken for 10 years “at an unprecedented low interest rate” and without the involvement of guarantees from the Belarusian government.

Our editorial office received a document dated May 11 of this year. Pyotr Shimukovich, the company's CEO, writes to the employees in the letter that Belarusbank allegedly filed a bankruptcy claim against MMPZ group Ltd. with the Economic Court of the Vitebsk Region. We were not able to get a prompt comment from the management of the company and find out whether the claim was actually filed.

Recall, the day before, Prime Minister Raman Halouchanka said that the authorities, who have been “rescuing” this plant for almost a year, have found “options for resolving all issues of problem debt” and that “most of these risks were assumed by the state”.

Employees about workloads and salaries

After the publication that the Russian authorities would like the Miory Rolling Mill to replace European suppliers of tinplate, one of the employees of the plant, Pavel (not his real name), contacted us. He said that things were not going well at the plant.

"There is work, but not enough. For two months it was [produced] about two thousand kilograms of metal instead of 25 thousand according to the plan. And then almost everything goes to the warehouse, little was taken out,” Pavel said.

According to him, the plant began to recruit workers after down time. As a result, about 600-700 people work there now. But problems with the payment of salaries have recently begun, and there were difficulties with other payments even at a time when Raman Halouchanka visited the plant a few weeks ago.

"Last month, the child care allowance was delayed for two weeks, vacation pay is not issued for the second month. They did not pay this month [April] salaries for the first time in all the time, even in instalments. They have been raising hopes for two weeks. Previously, during the down time, they never delayed salaries. If it goes like this, some of the employees plan to quit,” Pavel says.

As for the salary rate, according to the interlocutor, this is basically a "bare salary", like a year ago.

He also confirmed that the management of the company was nevertheless released some time after the arrest. According to him, only the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Aliaksei Kavalionak, remained behind bars. This information was confirmed by another worker of the plant.

"We still have the main specialists, but some left. We are taking orders and working,” says Pavel’s colleague.

What happened at the plant in Miory

Miory Steel, as TUT.BY found out in 2020, at that time belonged to the Singaporean company KSBH PTE (70% of the shares) and Aliaksei Kavalionak (12% of the shares). Little is known about either owner. Kavalionak comes from the Miory region. In 2018, he offered Lukashenka to build a high-tech cardiology center in his homeland. This was written by "Selskaia Gazeta".

The company launched in 2020. 200 million euros were invested in the project. Its construction was cited as an example of a successful public and private partnership. It is the country's only producer of cold rolled sheet and tinplate (it is used in the production of cans). The design capacity of the plant is 150 thousand tons of tinplate per year, in the future it was planned to increase it to 240 thousand tons per year.

Its owners had obligations to develop the infrastructure of the region additional to the foundation of the production. They were to build housing for the plant's workers and assist in the "implementation of priority national and regional programs".

At the beginning of June last year, workers reported that Aliaksandr Lukashenka was supposed to come to their enterprise as part of a of his Vitebsk region tour. The factory workers were seriously preparing for his visit, but instead of Lukashenka, special services arrived at the plant. According to the workers, some employees of the enterprise were taken away for interrogation after searches.

Later it turned out that the plant's CEO, Piotr Shymukovich, the deputy CEO for economics and finance, Dzmitry Slavnikau, and the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Aliaksei Kavalionak, appeared behind bars. Some other people were also detained with them, who were later released. No one knew for what reason the special services had questions to the management of the plant.

At the end of July, it became known that the employees of the Miory Metal Rolling Plant wrote an appeal to the State Security Committee. The letter explained why these detentions, they believed, were a mistake. “Almost all workers of the plant signed it,” one of the plant's workers said. In early July, a response came from the KGB stating that the leadership was accused of abuse of power or official authority, which caused damage on a large scale or significant harm to the rights and legitimate interests of citizens or state or public interests.

However, Raman Halouchanka spoke about the problems of the company and stated that "although the company started operating at the end of last year, it could not reach the turnover that would allow it to repay its obligations".

According to the workers, the problems at the enterprise began after the security forces and authorities showed interest in it.

At the end of October last year, the management of the plant was not yet free. The official web page of the plant indicates that Piotr Shimukovich is now the CEO, and Dzmitry Slavnikau is now his deputy for economics and finance. Shimukovich signed a document on the bank's appeal to the court. This confirms that he is at the plant and continues to lead it.

Raman Halouchanka said, during a recent visit to the plant, that during the time the government agencies undertook the “rescue”, they found ways to “resolve all issues of the bad debts”.

“I can say that the state took on most of these risks precisely in order to launch production processes at the plant. In March, after more than six months of down time, the plant began to produce technical products.”

The company enjoys a number of benefits that are usually not available to private business. According to Halouchanka, the company sells its products to the Glubokae Dairy Canning Plant, and small batches are also exported, “so that new customers can make sure that the products meet their requirements''.