All happy businessmen are alike, and so are the unhappy ones. According to our closed polls, on average, every 7 owners (about 14%) of a medium-sized business in Russia (revenue up to RUB 2 billion) was subjected to some form of raiding.

Every year the number of such companies is growing by at least 12%. FightRaids data echoes the estimates of the National Anti-Corruption Committee, according to which up to 700 thousand raider seizures take place in Russia every year.

Fightraids

If the pace remains unchanged in about 7 years, there will be almost no companies in the medium-sized business segment in Russia that have managed to avoid attacks.

According to FightRaids, the chances of being a victim of raiders increase several times after the business reaches the symbolic mark of 1 billion rubles. revenue per year.

Having twice experienced all the difficulties associated with the loss of business and the struggle for the return of the taken away companies Akkord (2014) and SDI Group (2019), having met in the UK with other business emigrants from post-Soviet countries, mainly from Russia, I came to the conclusion, that all these episodes of ours have much more similarities than differences.
Brothers in disarmament
Almost all victims of raider seizures in Russia, with whom I happened to communicate, are faced with indifference, and most often with corruption interest on the part of judges, officials, representatives of state departments and law enforcement agencies, designed to protect and protect the rights of legal owners. Finding themselves face to face with the raiders, business owners get confused, waste time, cannot build a defense strategy, create elementary obstacles for raiders, and make gross mistakes.
What raiders want
First of all, hunters for someone else's business seek to seize control over the operating activities of the attacked company, for which they resort to forging or destruction of title and other documents, bribery of CEOs and significant hired employees, preventing their change, imputing unbearable debt obligations through arbitration courts. However, in recent years in Russia, raider attacks are increasingly often of an openly criminal nature, cases of forceful seizures of companies, fabrication of criminal cases against owners, their illegal detention and placement under arrest have become more frequent.

Most often, the goal of raiders is banal theft or sale of company property. In rare cases, when it comes to a highly profitable business, the raiders' efforts are aimed at forcing the owners to give up their ownership in order to independently dispose of the asset or resell it.
Legal protection for business
To help my colleagues and misfortune, I, in partnership with other Russian businessmen, established a special human rights structure in the UK - the Center for Business Transparency and Anti-Raiding. Its purpose is to provide comprehensive consulting support to entrepreneurs-victims of raiders from the CIS countries.
How we help
First of all, it is necessary to return or restore title and accounting documents, bank keys, ensure direct physical management of the company, and replace disloyal employees in the management.

To accomplish these tasks, it is necessary to make the fact of raiding (especially in the case of a corruption conspiracy) as widespread as possible through publications in the media, messages on social networks, create a scandal, involve public figures and human rights defenders in PR work, attract the attention of the widest possible range of official departments and agencies, trade union and public associations, raise the issue to the highest level, apply with open letters and statements to the highest authorities, to the Presidential Administration, to the office of the Prime Minister, to the rival leaders of the power block.

At the first stage, all efforts are reduced to scaring the raiders with noise, future difficulties and expenses and forcing them to abandon the execution of criminal plans. Such work can scare random people, but not professional raiders, and even more so competitors with rich connections among high-ranking officials.

It is also required to block the invaders' access to accounting, work with partners and contractors. At the same time, it is necessary to organize legal protection of interests in civil and criminal courts. Qualified specialists in the field of civil and criminal law, crisis managers and PR specialists are able to take on the implementation of such pans. Of course, no non-specialized business has such a staff and does not know how to independently coordinate its efforts.
International direction
Unfortunately, our opponents are officials and businessmen, owners of such a high position and connections at the level of the leadership of their own countries that any domestic authorities are powerless against them. In such cases, it is necessary to bring the confrontation to the public and official international plane, although as Russia is closed, for example, international pressure as a tool to protect victims of raiding becomes less and less effective. It is another matter that high-level raiders often own valuable foreign assets and are jealous of any restrictions imposed on them. In this case, it is necessary to resort to the support of foreign journalists, functionaries and officials, human rights defenders, politicians, public and religious leaders in order to force the invaders to dialogue.
More than raiding
Having twice faced raiders of the highest echelon, observing similar cases, I came to the conclusion that, contrary to common stereotypes, an attempt on someone else's business does not necessarily look like an armed raid with forgery of constituent documents. In fact, we are talking about a corrupt merger of business and criminals in power.

Often, an invasion is preceded by open pressure from various inspectors, controllers, tax and security agencies, inspired by customers. They create an unbearable business environment and then offer solutions to all problems. Their goal is either to establish informal control over the business for the sake of profit, or to receive regular interest payments. In the 90s it was called “protection”, except that the role of the roof was played by crime bosses, whose place is now taken by people in expensive suits and watches, on official cars with flashing lights.

Typical raiding has become not the only and far from the most convenient way to profit from someone else's business and is used only when conversations and persuasions cease to work, as it was in my case.

As a result, business owners voluntarily, for the sake of obtaining non-market advantages, or forcedly, under the threat of losing an asset, include informal patrons: high-ranking officials and security officials.

The situation is such that at the highest hierarchical level, which is occupied by especially large businesses, sovereignty and independence are completely or partially lost. In other words, any multi-billion dollar business, excluding state monopoly, which is already owned by the state, is in fact no longer private.

The original owner of the business, at best, acts as an autonomous top manager with broad powers, and at worst, as a face-to-face, the Zits Chairman of the Pound. In any case, he is forced and obliged to share, and in the case of separatism, he risks losing not only company, but also freedom.

The scale of the merger of corrupt officials and big business is so great that we are talking about its undeclared "nationalization", loss of sovereignty, erosion of the ideological foundations of entrepreneurship.