MOSCOW, March 6 (RAPSI) – The Commercial Court of Tatarstan has dismissed a motion filed by the local Department of the Federal Tax Service (FTS) seeking to declare troubled VIM Airlines bankrupt, the case documents read.

In December 2017, head of the airline Vyacheslav Kononenko said that the company is facing a serious problem in that it can’t pay salaries because of debts before the FTS reaching 500 million rubles ($8.8 million). According to Kononenko, all funds transferred to the airline’s accounts are automatically blocked and transferred to tax authorities.

On February 19, the Commercial Court of Tatarstan initiated monitoring procedure against VIM Airlines.

A representative of Russian Credit Bank, which also filed a bankruptcy claim against the airline, said that the company owes it over 100 million rubles ($1.7 million) and that two parties are currently negotiating the settlement.

In January, the court returned a lawsuit of Aviation Service (HK) Limited, a company registered in Hong Kong, on inclusion of VIM Airlines’ 472.5-million-ruble (about $8.3 million) debt into the creditors’ demands list. According to the court, a motion to declare the airline bankrupt, has not been reviewed yet and as such the motion on inclusion of debt in the list is premature.

In addition, the Eleventh Commercial Court of Appeals has earlier dismissed an appeal against a court ruling refusing to proceed with a bankruptcy claim against VIM Airlines.

In late October, the Moscow Commercial Court dismissed the Aviation Service Limited’s motion lodged as part of a lawsuit on recovery of a 293-million-ruble (about $5.1 million) debt from the airline.

The applicant sought to arrest the accounts of VIM Airlines in a bank, seize its mortgaged property as well as prohibit it from making deals with officially registered real estate. According to the applicant, the defendant may be bankrupt.
The court, however, stated that the Aviation Service Limited did not provide sufficient evidence proving need for adoption of interim measures.

On October 17, a criminal case was launched over premeditated bankruptcy of VIM Airlines.

Investigators believe that certain top managers and owners of the air carrier intentionally made losing bargains in 2016 and 2017 including those aimed at siphoning of assets abroad. The deals led to enormous financial outlay and undoubtedly resulted in the company’s failure to pay debts to creditors in full.

According to investigators, employees of the VIM Airlines continued to sell tickets to clients despite being aware that the airline was not able to transfer passengers because there were not enough funds to buy fuel. Investigators believe that the employees embezzled more than one million rubles ($17,000).

VIM Airlines CEO and chief accountant, Alexander Kochnev and Yekaterina Panteleyeva, have been arrested as part of the case. Co-owners of VIM Airlines Rashid Mursekayev and Svetlana Mursekayeva fled Russia and are currently residing abroad, according to investigators. Allegedly Mursekayev and Kalashnikova fled Russia to hide from investigative authorities. In December, the Basmanny District Court of Moscow issued an arrest warrant for Mursekayev.

Investigators also believe that between 2015 and 2017 the defendants abused their office positions to buy overpriced aviation fuel from companies controlled by Mursekayev.