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Byzantine Business Scheme Blamed|On Alleged Ukrainian Mobsters

WILMINGTON, Del. (CN) - A Ukrainian financier who uses bribes, threats and violence, and survived an assassination attempt by machine gun-toting members of the Chechen Mafia, orchestrated a conspiracy that stole commercial property from a Wyoming investment firm, the Capital Investments Group claims in Federal Court. "Gennady Korban is a Ukrainian citizen with a history of organized criminal conduct in Ukraine," the complaint states. "Korban accomplishes his business goals by means that include bribery, threats and harm to others."

Capital Investments claims Korban, his wife and a long list of co-conspirators used a forged power of attorney to steal the properties. The forged documents appeared to have been signed by Capital Investments Group president Gerald Pitts and were embossed with a forged notary seal, according to the complaint.

The elaborate scheme - uncovered by happenstance by a corporate bookkeeper - was furthered through manipulation of the Ukrainian legal system, with a bogus arbitrator's decision and a series of legal cases filed to provide a gloss of legality, the complaint states.

Capital Investments Group seeks a temporary restraining order, declaratory and injunctive relief and compensatory damages.

According to the complaint, a central actor in Korban's scheme was Oleg Vitaliyovich Eryomenko, who claimed to have received the power of attorney from Pitts, but appears to have merely forged Pitt's signature, then forged the signatures of a Delaware notary public and an apostille of the Delaware Secretary of State on the document.

Eryomenko allegedly used the phony document to transfer the property and other corporate assets to Ferum Invest plus, a shell corporation. But the frauds didn't stop there: in February 2009, Eryomenko and Ferum claimed there was a dispute in the transfer, and asked an arbitrator - another co-conspirator - to settle the matter, according to the complaint.

The self-appointed arbitrator "awarded" CIG's properties to Ferum and directed the state government to register the new ownership, the complaint states. That, however, was intentional overreach on the arbitrator's part, as he had no jurisdiction over the government. A director of Ferum then filed a pair of lawsuits to get a legitimate Ukrainian court to enforce the fraudulent arbitration decision, the complaint states.

The scheme was discovered 7 months later, when a bookkeeper for the Ukrainian LLCs visited the state tax inspection office in Kirov and was told the two companies had new directors and new addresses.

That sent Capital Investments representatives to the Web site of the Ukraine Unified State Registry of Court Decisions, where they learned of two lawsuits and the forged power of attorney that underpinned them. By then Ferum had transferred ownership of the LLCs to other shell corporations controlled by Korban, Capital Investments says.

In addition to Korban and Eryomenko, defendants include Korban's wife Victoria, O.V. Semyonov, Ferum Invest Plus, Fedor Yenchev, V.V. Esaulenko, Corbest Trading Ltd., a Cyprus corporation, Bristol Com LLC, a British entity, Boris Filatov, Vladimir Marchuk, Technolic TOV, a Ukraine company, Techpromenergo TOV, a Ukraine corporation, Vladimir Gorb, Yuginformatica Gorb, Yuginformatica TOV, a Ukraine company, Oxana Petrovskaya, Maxim Reva, and Dmitri Gerasimov.

Korban, an executive with the Ukrainian financial and industrial group Privat, narrowly escaped being gunned down in 2006 after receiving a tip from law enforcement officials, according to published reports.

His would-be assassin, Lom-Ali Gaitukaev - described as a "Chechen kingpin" in newspaper reports at the time - was sentenced to 13 years in prison.

Gaitukaev also has been implicated in the murder of crusading Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, according to a report from the Russian newspaper, Kommersant.

Capital Investments Group's lead counsel is Charles Oberly III with Drinker Biddle & Reath in Wilmington.

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