(photo credit: BANKAPP.CO.IL)
In the legal proceedings that Russia’s Alfa-Bank filed on Monday against Ukrainian Jewish tycoon Alexander Granovsky, it has asked the Lod District Court to enforce four Ukrainian court judgments and arbitration awards for a total of around $15 million.
The reason for legal action in Israel is apparently that Alfa-Bank did not find substantial assets belonging to Granovsky in Ukraine, and realized that such assets were in Israel.
The bank’s motion cites Israel’s 1968 domestic law on the need to enforce all arbitration awards, as well as Israel’s and Ukraine’s ratification of the New York International Arbitration Convention of 1978, which it says specifically binds Israel to enforce the payment of the Ukrainian award.
Alfa-Bank’s motion – filed by attorney Alon Pomeranc, who heads the litigation department at the firm of Lipa Meir & Co. – says that Granovsky’s Capital Construction LLC took out four loans from the bank and that Granovsky signed a personal guarantee for each, putting him on the hook if his company could not pay.
One loan was signed on April 8, 2008, another on June 6, 2008, and two loans on January 18, 2011, said the motion.
It also stated that the earliest arbitration award against Granovsky had been handed down on July 15, 2010, with a Ukrainian court approving it on October 15 of that year.
The judgments were entered in default, the motion said, since Granovsky did not appear to defend himself.
Only 18 months ago, Granovsky was on the brink of acquiring control of Israel’s largest holding company, IDB. He made headlines in the summer of 2013, when Nochi Dankner – at the time the controlling shareholder in IDB – was promoting a plan for investment in the concern through a consortium of investors, in the context of a debt settlement. Granovsky headed the consortium alongside Dankner.
Then as now, Granovsky’s financial strength and financial profile were not revealed, but he was presented as a millionaire. Later, he bought control of food company G.
Willi-Food Investments Ltd.
However, following the crisis that broke out in Ukraine shortly afterward, his businesses there got into cash flow difficulties, and he has lately been engaged in bringing partners into his businesses in Israel.
Alfa-Bank is part of the Alfa Group, controlled by Russian Jewish billionaire Mikhail Fridman.
The amount of the loan in dispute was 29m. Ukrainian hryvnia, equivalent to a few million dollars at then-prevailing exchange rates.
Together with interest and other expenses because of arrears, the loan amount has swelled to $15m.
The crisis in Ukraine, which broke out last year when Russia invaded the Crimean peninsula, has indeed hurt the Ukrainian economy and likely did have a negative effect on Granovsky’s business activity there. However, talks between him and the bank regarding the debt began about two years after the loan was given – about a year before the crisis in Ukraine began. As such, it is believed that the crisis was not the main cause of his failure to repay the debt.