Russia Legal Dispute: Raid on SDI Group
Alcon Development is engaged in a legal dispute in Russia after an armed raid in January 2019 on three sprawling real estate development projects, in which it presently has a controlling interest.
Given the heightened misinformation surrounding these circumstances, our management has decided to present here for reference a clear and impartial record of the events that transpired, as well as a summary of prior and ongoing legal proceedings and investigative coverage of the raid.
The Armed Raid
A Raid In Downtown Moscow
In mid-January 2019, a group of armed individuals stormed onto, and took control of, a number of large-scale residential complexes under construction in the heart of the Russian capital of Moscow.
These real estate development projects include VernadSKY on Vernadsky Prospekt, Pirogovskaya Riviera in Moscow’s Mytishchi District, and Akkord Smart Kvartal in the Odintsovo District. They are owned and operated by SDI Group, a company operating mainly in Russia and the former Soviet Union, but also elsewhere abroad. Alcon Development owns an 80-percent stake in that company.
Later that month, on January 24, 2019, another group of raiders bounded into the SDI Group’s offices on Kutuzovsky Prospekt and demanded the keys to the building. Some were in ordinary clothes and some wearing uniforms of the Vityaz security company, the primary security provider of properties belonging to God Nisanov, Moscow's largest commercial real estate holder and a Russian oligarch of Azerbaijani descent. In a video recording, the raid's orchestrators can supposedly be heard receiving orders from Nisanov, a partner in the projects. Russian media have since reported that Nisanov ordered the raid after a dispute with his partner, Ilgar Hajiyev, the founder of SDI Group.
After the raid, Hajiyev received a number of death threats, prompting him to flee with his family to Switzerland. The overnight loss of three prime real estate developments was a rare but devastating setback for Haliyev, whose rags-to-riches story has become legendary in the former Soviet Union.
Even more painful for Hajiyev and the SDI Group management were the crimes committed by the perpetrators after the fact. Millions of euros in down payments for apartments, which were paid to SDI Group by hardworking Russian families, were transferred outside of the company's accounts.
Over the past nine months, SDI Group has issued appeals to Russia's Presidency and Government, the Moscow Regional Government and Mayor's Office, and an array of law enforcement agencies in the hope of securing their support to bring Nisanov and his cronies to justice. The company has also launched a number of legal cases in Russia against the individuals involved in/behind the raid.
More information can be found in this investigative story by Novaya Gazeta.
The Raided Assets
Large-Scale Moscow Residential Projects
VernandSKY is a 25-story apartment building with a total area of 48,300 square meters (519,896 square feet).
The building was designed in a high-tech style with a complex shape, which includes a 23-story tower, resting on a two-story stylobate.
The facade will be decorated using a rack-mount and crossbar system on an aluminium frame with a two-chamber, energy-saving, double-glazed window.
The design will create the effect of a "continuous" surface, with a minimum number of joining seams, and maintain a comfortable temperature in the building.
The community will include a 225-vehicle parking lot and technical rooms.
The entire complex will be commissioned in the fourth quarter of 2020.
The Pirogovskaya Riviera Residential Complex is a large-scale integrated suburb project. The project is being constructed on an area of 49 hectares (120 acres). The monolithic-brick residential complex will include 20 residential buildings (six to nine floors), with a total area of over 320,196 square meters (3.4 million square feet).
The project will also offer community members social, cultural and educational infrastructure, such as schools, kindergartens, shops, a sports and fitness complex with an Olympic-sized pool, a shopping and entertainment center and much more.
The entire complex will be commissioned in 2022.
The Akkord.Smart-Kvartal Residential Complex is a modern lifestyle community, offering residents thoughtful apartment layouts, high-tech solutions, and a favorable ecology in a low-density atmosphere.
The complex is being constructed on 34 hectares (84 acres) and will include 12 four-story brick residential buildings with a total area of over 131,000 square meters (1.4 million square feet).
Modern social infrastructure will be provided to the community, including shops, a shopping and entertainment center, a school, a kindergarten, a sports and fitness complex, as well as a pedestrian area alongside the river.
The entire complex will be commissioned in 2019.
The Legal Cases
A number of legal cases have been opened against individuals and companies alleged to have directly or indirectly participated in the armed raid on SDI Group and associated illegal activities.
In addition to these cases, requests to investigate the raid have been submitted by SDI Group, its founder, its lawyers, and members of the Russian parliament to law enforcement agencies.
For more information regarding these activities, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Raid Victims
SDI Group is far from being the only victim in this dispute.
More than 1,000 Russian families put money down on apartments the company was building as part of its real estate development projects.
After these properties were seized, Russian media report, millions of euro in down payments were subsequently transferred out of SDI Group’s accounts.
SDI Group is a leading international investment and construction company focused on business development in Russia, the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Middle East.
The company offers competitive solutions to problems in development, construction and sustainable development.
SDI Group manages state infrastructure projects, and invests in large-scale residential and commercial real estate construction and construction material production.
SDI Group has participated in the building of 11 civil engineering projects, with a total area of 900,000 square meters (96.5 million square feet). It has also invested in 17 factories and plants producing construction materials, metal structures and workwear.
SDI Group has also constructed and commissioned over 700 kilometers (434 miles) of roads and 25 tunnels and bridges in the framework of government contracts in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Kazakhstan.
Ilgar Hajiyev is the founder of SDI Group, a leading international infrastructure development company.
He is also the founder and former CEO of Azerbaijan's first billion-dollar enterprise — the Akkord construction company.
Over a decade, Akkord built much-needed transportation projects such as roads, bridges and airports in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan, as well as other countries in Eastern Europe and Africa.
Following the merger of Alcon Development and SDI Group, Hajiyev was appointed a managing director at the former company.
Alcon & SDI Group
Alcon Development & SDI Group
Alcon Development and SDI Group began discussing a potential partnership as early as 2016, when SDI Group's founder, Ilgar Hajiyev, expressed an interest in attracting European and, specifically, German investment to his real estate development and infrastructure projects in Russia and the former Soviet Union. Hajiyev is a friend, colleague and business advisor of Alcon Development's chief executive officer, Ziya Gaziyev.
The negotiations continued up until the raid in January 2019 — circumstances that would have derailed any other company's plans to enter into a partnership with SDI Group. However, Gaziyev, a Germany-based Azerbaijani who once worked as an assistant to Bundestag member Petra Merkel, was taken aback by the lawless nature of the raid and vowed to proceed.
In a show of support for SDI Group and his partner, Hajiyev — and as a demonstration of his belief in the need to fight against corrupt business practices in Russia — Gaziyev offered to finalize a merger agreement with SDI Group regardless of the raid.
Now an 80-percent shareholder in SDI Group's business, Alcon Development believes its participation will afford better access to EU legal and political instruments to help resolve the conflict. We will also continue to work toward our earlier goal of securing European investment for SDI Group's projects in Russia and the former Soviet Union.
Investigative Media Reports
Radio Free Liberty