The full-scale phase of the Russian-Ukrainian war has relegated to the background most of the topics that, until February 24, 2024, with a high probability, would be in the headlines of the Ukrainian media. Despite significant gas reserves and the importance of own production for Ukraine’s energy independence, the number of scandals in this area has remained consistently high for many years. The conflict over the acquisition of the Mainytske gas field between ‘Navigator Komplekt’ LLC and ‘Sela Energy’ LLC has been going on for more than a month, but in the public space, it has so far been limited to statements on the pages of one of the parties and their blogs in the media.
The ‘public’ part of the scandal is only the tip of the iceberg in the story, which has been going on since January 2021. Then Navigator Komplekt LLC sold to Sela Energy LLC a share in the charter capital of Navigator Mainytske LLC, which had a permit to develop the Mainytske gas field in the Lviv region. The payment under this contract consisted of two parts – the main payment in the amount equivalent to $1,800,000 and a bonus. The obligation to pay it and its size depended on several conditions: the results of geological work on the field and the current price of gas. ‘Bukvy’ talked to co-founder of Navigator Komplekt LLC Oleh Tokar. He refused to disclose details, referring to the condition of non-disclosure of the content of the contract, but noted that it is about several million dollars.
This is how the conflict began – in May 2022, the buyer turned to the seller with a proposal to suspend the terms of fulfilling the obligations under the contract until the end of the martial law in Ukraine. However, the parties could not come to an agreement, and in August 2022, Navigator Komplekt LLC appealed to the court with a demand to recognize the concluded agreement on the return of its share in Navigator Mainytske LLC. In response, Sela Energy LLC appealed to the court with a claim to invalidate part of the provisions of the original contract. The ‘object’ of the original agreement – Navigator Mainytske LLC – also filed a similar claim. At the time of publication of this material, in none of the cases, the decision on the claims has not been adopted and has not entered into force.
The economic proceeding was followed by the criminal case – in April 2023, several persons who in one way or another have a relationship with Sela Energy LLC or its owners were searched. Ihor Mazepa, the general director of investment company Concorde Capital, who owns 50% of Sela Energy LLC (Oleh Vedmid and Ivan Oliinyk own 25% of the shares), declared that the criminal proceeding was going too fast (according to him, several weeks passed between the appeal to the law enforcement and the searches). He also mentioned the fact that the investigative team includes 28 people (and in general, about 50 people were involved in the searches). Ihor Mazepa also accused the law enforcement officers of violating the scope of investigative actions authorized by the court and allegedly illegally seizing funds during the search (in the media one can find reports of the amount of $600,000, but Ihor Mazepa himself confirmed only the fact of seizing funds, without naming the amount).
More details about Ihor Mazepa’s position can be found on his Facebook page or on his blog. It is much more difficult to find the position of the opposite party, which has not yet commented on the situation. In order to understand the details of this scandal in the Ukrainian gas production, ‘Bukvy’ contacted businessman Oleh Tokar, co-owner of Navigator Komplekt LLC.
As of the beginning of May, it is known from open sources about the conflict regarding the Mainytske field, about several court cases that have been going on for six months and recent searches of the partners of Ihor Mazepa, who in turn accused the law enforcement officers of putting pressure on business and receiving $150,000 for ‘activity’ in this case. Can you comment on this?
Mazepa bought from us a company that legally produces gas in a field with confirmed reserves (in March 2021, Concorde Capital reported the confirmed presence of 748 million cubic meters of gas, and that the total gas volume of the Mainytske field, according to preliminary estimates, is about 12.1 billion cubic meters – editor’s note). As soon as the period for Mazepa to fulfill his financial obligations came according to the contract, he first asked for a softening of the terms of payment, and we tried to come to an agreement, and when all reasonable terms expired, he declared that he owed nothing to anyone. He hired lawyers and went to court with a demand to cancel key clauses of the contract. All this is constantly accompanied by threats and pressure. In such circumstances, the only solution for us was to contact the law enforcement agencies.
Do you personally know Ihor Mazepa?
Yes, I do, he participated in the negotiations regarding the purchase of the company. Investment banker Mazepa is a fraud, shallow and unscrupulous.
According to the norms of Article 190 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, fraud is considered to be the acquisition of someone else’s property or the acquisition of the right to property by deception or abuse of trust. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the punishment for committing this criminal offense can range from a fine to imprisonment for up to 12 years with confiscation of property. At the same time, according to the norms of Article 62 of the Constitution of Ukraine, a person is considered innocent of committing a crime and cannot be subjected to criminal punishment until the guilt is proven in a legal manner and established by a court verdict – editor’s note).
Why did you do business with the person you describe in this way?
Before the agreement, we were not personally acquainted with him and formed our position about him from the publication in the mass media. As it turned out, it did not reflect his true nature. Mazepa did not immediately show his true face. He pretended to be an investor interested in developing a field until he got what he wanted.
What do you expect from your appeal to the law enforcement?
Justice and punishment of the fraud. I claim that Mazepa and his accomplices did not intend to fulfill the contract he signed with us. He was not going to pay. He was not going to develop the gas field. He is a fraud who lied to buy and sell quickly. It was not possible to sell quickly, he did not plan to develop the field and decided to simply cheat us out of money. This is a crime committed by a group of persons based on a prior conspiracy. This is not Mazepa’s first such experience.
The opposite side claims that this is an ordinary business dispute (three cases of lawsuits from all parties to the agreement), which can be resolved in court, and law enforcement officers are interfering in business relations between the two companies.
We were resolving this dispute in court. However, when Mazepa realized that his arguments contradicted the terms of the contract, he initially dragged out the process and eventually went to counter-court with the intention of canceling several clauses of the contract. At the same time, we are constantly threatened and persuaded at all levels to leave Mazepa alone and forget about the 3 million dollars.
The buyer, LLC Sela Energy appealed to the court with a demand to declare the terms of the contract invalid. What are the exact points of the agreement?
It is clearly written when and for what he pays. Formally, we have an obligation not to disclose the content of contracts and additional agreements. However, Mazepa and his partners openly violate this by publicly citing the alleged content of the agreement. This is all a lie! Absolute.
According to the decision of the Commercial Court of the city of Kyiv dated 11/17/2022 in case No. 910/7988/22, Sela Energy LLC requests the invalidation of the provisions of the contract regarding the order and terms of drilling its own well at the field, determining the size and order of payment of the bonus payment – editor’s note).
Is bonus payment made in case of confirmation of gas reserves?
This is Mazepa’s most blatant lie. I will explain. First, such a statement does not exist. Secondly, all contracts were prepared by Mazepa’s side, and we made minimal amendments. He himself proposed the conditions to which we agreed, but he does not fulfill them. He was not going to do it! Thirdly, the bonus payment, or rather the second part of the payment, does not depend on the confirmation of gas reserves. They are confirmed by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. Mazepa also checked the reserves before making the deal and most importantly got a company with a debit (working and extracting gas – ed.) well. At this point, he has already received a lot of money from it.
One can come across the position that the buyer bought the company, paid the first payment, and had to pay the second (bonus) in case of confirmation of the reserves, which were not confirmed, and because of this, he does not want to pay the rest. What can you say to that?
It is precisely because of this interpretation that I call Mazepa a fraud and believe that he should bear criminal responsibility for his actions. This is a blatant lie that proves that from the first minute, he was not going to pay.
He had to drill a well by a specific date, and if it matched the parameters of the one we drilled before the sale, pay the second part. If for some reason he did not drill the second well by the clearly agreed date, he was still obliged to pay the second part.
Mazepa did not even start drilling a well and did not plan to do it! He was not going to pay at all. I will say more, he immediately started negotiating the resale of the company. I guess it could have been part of his fraud scheme.
For this, instead of the necessary drilling, he tried to intensify production from the existing well. Mazepa is a fraud who, according to the available information, managed to carry out this fraud scheme not with his own money, but by involving partners. Sooner or later, the law enforcement officers will find out the names of these people, and then the situation will take an even more interesting turn.
Which partners are we talking about?
I will not comment on the actions of law enforcement officers on this issue. We cooperate with the investigation, provide all necessary information. No one can hide or distort the truth. This is a precedent case. Mazepa lies to everyone. Including journalists of authoritative media outlets. He just tells an outright lie. I recommend that all journalists clarify the names of the lawyers who represent Mazepa in court. This will tell a lot.
In the materials of the case No. 910/7988/22 on the claim of Navigator Komplekt LLC, one can find information that in May 2022, Sela Energy LLC applied for a suspension of its obligations until the end of the martial law in Ukraine, but did not receive consent. Do you not consider a full-scale war a good argument for revising the pre-war agreements?
Listen, we transferred the company to them (Navigator Mainytske – ed.) with all permits and a debit well in January 2021. Again, I cannot tell the terms of the contract, but it clearly states that there was a year, even more, to drill the second well. Instead of fulfilling the terms of the contract, in May 2022, they say that there is a war in the country. The Mainytske gas field is located almost on the Polish border, west of Lviv. Are there hostilities there? Yes, there are strikes, but the farmers in the frontline areas are also under the strikes and much more, but do the harvesting and sowing. No one said that we will not eat this year because of the war!
If you try, you will find Mazepa’s words that he has problems with gas extraction due to the lack of technology and specialists (probably, this is an interview with Forbes Ukraine on October 27, 2022 – ed.) When we transferred the company, we agreed that the lack of equipment, money, exchange rate on the market are not a force majeure. Moreover, Mazepa himself said that he supposedly had the best specialists who had experience in hydraulic fracturing and production intensification technologies, all this is public (probably, this is a comment for Interfax-Ukraine in February 2020 – ed.)
I am not a public person and I have never sought publicity. Mazepa greatly overestimates himself. I and my partners, within the limits of the law, will do everything necessary to restore justice. As far as I know, our case is not the only episode of fraud on the part of Mazepa, sooner or later he will definitely be punished for this.