The Tale of Telman Ismailov

Family, friends, business and searches - what Telman Ismailov is famous for?
18.09.2017
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On September 14, businessman Telman Ismailov’s apartments were searched: eight apartments belonging to his family were inspected. What made the owner of the Cherkizovsky market famous and what they can search for at his flats - read in Sofia Savina’s article.


The searches of Telman Ismailov’s property were reported by his lawyer Alexander Dubrovinsky. "Twelve (!) addresses are being searched. Dozens of people are involved. They are looking for something that they can not find"(the spelling of the source is preserved., - ed.), - he wrote on Facebook. Searches began at half past five in the morning and even took place at businessman” nephew and mother-in-law, Ismailov himself told RBC.

"You are our brother"

Telman Ismailov is from Baku. His father was a merchant, and from the age of 14 Telman has been working with him. At the age of 18 he became the director of the only commercial store in Baku.

In the 1980s, Ismailov moved to Moscow and became an economist in the Ministry of Commerce, and then went to work as an expert in Vostokintorg (All-Union Association for Trade with Eastern Countries). He meets with Yuri Luzhkov, who at that time served as chairman of the Moscow City Council Committee on Cooperative Activities. Twenty years later, already being the mayor of the capital, Luzhkov will congratulate Ismailov on his fiftieth birthday with the words: "Telman! You are our brother! We go with you through life!". Friendly relations  Ismailov had with the former vice-mayor of Moscow, Joseph Ordzhonikidze as well.

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Yury Luzhkov congratulates Telman Ismailov on his jubilee. Source: YouTube

In 1989, Telman Ismailov opened his first Moscow business - he registered the "AST" group. The abbreviation consists of the first letters of the names of the owners - a businessman and his two sons: Alekper-Sarhan-Telman. "AST" began with the selling clothes. During the first year of its work, 52 commercial stores in Moscow were opened - nobody used to do this in the city before.

The group began to expand. A few years later, dozens of companies became a part of it in various fields: hotel business (AST-Gof), construction (AST-Capstroy), publishing (AST-Moscow Printing House), transport (AST-TransServis), jewelry business (AST-Gold "). Ismailov owned the Moscow restaurant "Prague" on Arbat, the department store "Voentorg", as well as the famous wholesale markets - Luzhniki and Cherkizovsky.

It was the Cherkizovsky clothing market that became the main capital of Ismailov. In 2006, Cherkizon was the largest turnover center for small-scale clothing trade in the European part of Russia, and Ismailov himself in 2007 ranked 76th on the Forbes list with a fortune of $ 260 million.

From Cherkizon to a seven-star hotel

According to unofficial data, Cherkizovsky was inhabited by 100 thousand inhabitants. In 2006, an explosion occurred at the market. As a result of the terrorist attack, 14 people were killed and 61 injured. The investigation found that the explosion was organized by members of the nationalist organization "Spas" in order to "stop the influx of immigrants."

Chinese smuggling, illegal immigrants, prostitution - in such conditions, "Cherkizon" existed for more than 20 years. Mass market checks began after the arrest of a large consignment of contraband goods in the warehouses of the company "AST". In 2009, the market was publicly criticized by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin: "As for smuggling, there are more than $ 2 billion worth of goods on one of the markets." After that, the market was closed.

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Cherkizovsky market

The official reason was the violation of sanitary norms. The government said that the closure of the market is a measure to protect domestic producers: traders at the "Cherkizon" did not pay taxes and "choked" the local production. "Every store on the Cherkizovsky market meant a halted manufactory in Russia," then said Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Stanislav Naumov.

After the closure of “Cherkizon”, Ismailov moved to Turkey. There he, two months before the market was closed, built a seven-star hotel Mardan Palace, named after his father: a portrait of Mardan Ismailov hangs on the ground floor of the hotel. The newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung rated it as "the most expensive hotel in the continent": the cost is $ 1.4 billion. For its construction, gold leaf, crystal ornaments, Italian marble were used, and sand for the beach at the hotel was specially delivered from Egypt. On the territory there is a zoo and singing fountains. The opening ceremony was attended not only by Hollywood stars - Sharon Stone and Monica Bellucci, but also by the Deputy Mayor of Moscow Yuri Luzhkov.

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Mardan Palace

Vladimir Putin also paid attention to the hotel. He said he does not see the crime in Ismailov’s construction of the hotel in Turkey, but hinted that it would be nice to create the same projects in Russia, for example, in Sochi for the Olympics. In response, Telman Ismailov signed an agreement with Olimpstroi Corporation in 2010 to build hotels in Sochi for $ 800 million. However, money was not found and the construction of Olympic facilities had to be abandoned.

Playing hide and seek with money

Ismailov’s business after the closure of the Cherkizovsky market went worse. He took new and new loans to pay off old debts. He was helped by BM-Bank (Bank of Moscow) and the structure of Mangazeya Sergei Yanchukov. When the banks demanded to return the money, the businessman began to hide them. In 2014, Telman Ismailov transferred his companies to the sons Alekper and Sarhan and his nephew Zaur Mardanov in order to save himself from creditors.

In parallel, Ismailov organized the withdrawal of funds abroad: $ 8 million he sent to purchase a shopping center Craig Valley Plaza in Las Vegas. Another scheme is to bankrupt yourself. He took new loans from fictitious organizations registered with his acquaintances. This should have worked like this: when bankruptcy, seized property is divided among creditors in proportion to the amount of debt. If the debt to "their" organizations exceeds the debt to the Bank of Moscow, then the bank gets a penny, and all property is returned to the owner.

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Craig Valley Plaza Shopping Center in Las Vegas. Source: Omninet Capital

However, in the end, the court found Ismailov bankrupt, and the creditors took all the assets from the businessman. VTB received the restaurant "Prague", shopping centers AST and "Tropicano". The US shopping center was also arrested on the suit of the Bank of Moscow. The elegant mansion with a view of Skolkovo got, according to the Rosreestr, the Settlement and Credit Bank, owned by the family of the State Duma deputy Vakha Agayev.

For debts in 2015, the famous Mardan Palace was sold. The Turkish bank bought the hotel at auction for $ 124 million, although its value was estimated at $ 248 million. It was in 2015 that Ismailov last got on the Forbes list. Then the magazine estimated his fortune at $ 600 million.

In March 2017, the Arbitration Court of the Moscow Region, by its resolution, began selling his property.

Family Rules of Life

The businessman became famous for his passion for luxury. The media write that he flew to a party in Nice on a gilded plane, gave the singer Nikolai Baskov a villa in Turkey for his birthday, and his collection of wristwatches totals more than 2,000 copies.

Among Telman Ismailov’s friends there are not only representatives of show business. He has friendly relations with the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov as well. The businessman himself confessed in an interview with the Azerbaijani edition of Haqqin.az that during difficult times Kadyrov asked for him in front of Putin: "Yes, I have very good relationships with Ramzan Kadyrov as well. Not only he asked, but also many other persons in the higher elite of Russia. "

Back in 2010, after a visit to Chechnya, Ismailov agreed to sponsor the local football club "Terek" (now - "Akhmat"). At the same time, the president of the club, Ramzan Kadyrov, appointed Sarhan Ismayilov, the son of a businessman, as Terek vice-president.

Ismailov’s children, like his father, are famous for their passion for luxury life. Both sons studied and lived in Switzerland. There, according to media data, they were witnesses in the case of an accident. Four Russians staged races on expensive cars, as a result of which the pensioner suffered. Behind the wheel of the Bugatti Veyron and Mercedes McLaren were Ismailov’s sons, the Swiss police reported.

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Alekper, Telman, Sarhan Ismailov

According to eyewitnesses, the president of Uzbekistan arrived in Antalya for the wedding of the elder son of businessman - Alekper Ismailov, and presented a helicopter to the newlyweds. Alekper Ismailov owns a 37.5% stake in the AST group of companies so far. Now various banks are trying to recognize him bankrupt. In September of this year, the application to the court against Ismailov Jr. was lodged by the bank "National Standard".

Younger son Sarhan studied at the University of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation. He also owns 37.5% of the group of companies "AST" and also is experiencing financial difficulties. The other day the Turkish edition reported that the car of Sarhan Ismailov Rolls Royce was arrested for the debts of the Mardan Palace hotel.

Relatives in the law

What did they want to find at Ismailov’s flats during the searches? There are two versions. According to one of them, searches are related to fraud against one of the banks. This was reported to RBC by a source close to the investigation.

According to other sources, the businessman was searched because of the case of the murder of two businessmen. Ismailov’s brother Rafik is accused of the execution of the owner of shopping complexes of Vladimir Savkin and the founder of "Lublino-motors" Yuri Brilev.

The "Interfax" source reported that searches of Telman Ismailov are connected with this very case. The same version businessman's lawyer put forward.

Double murder was committed in May 2016 in the suburbs. Rafik Ismailov is now in custody, he was charged under the article "Murder of two or more persons". According to the Investigative Committee, the motive for the shooting could be a financial dispute between Rafik Ismailov and his business partner Savkin.

Ismailov and Savkin were co-owners of a large shopping and entertainment center in Moscow. According to the investigation, Rafik Ismailov sold the business and took all the money himself. In order not to return the debt of $ 5.5 million to Savkin, he put a hit out on his former partner, the investigation suggests. The founder of "Lublino Motors" Brilev could become an accidental victim - he witnessed the attack.

Telman Ismailov’s second brother - Vagif, a former officer of the Main Directorate of Criminal Investigation of the Ministry of Internal Affairs - also goes through this case and is wanted. In April of this year, it was reported that Telman Ismailov became a suspect in the investigation into contract killings: an arrested member of the group gave testimony to him. In the testimony he is not talking about two, but about eight murders.

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