Austria’s AMIC Energy is appealing in the appeals court against the seizure of the corporate rights of its enterprise, which owns a large chain of gas stations on the territory of Ukraine (AMIC UKRAINE CFI).
This was announced by AMIC Energy Managing Director Günter Maier at a press conference hosted by the Interfax-Ukraine news agency on Thursday, September 15.
“We appealed to the Court of Appeal to overturn the decision of the previous instance regarding the seizure of our assets in Ukraine,” Maier said.
According to him, AMIC Energy will defend its rights at the national level, and if necessary, will also turn to international institutions, such as investment arbitration and the European Court of Human Rights.
Maier also denied accusations against AMIC Ukraine CFI made by the prosecutor’s office regarding tax evasion by the company via overestimation of operating costs, as well as accusations by the Bureau of Economic Security of Ukraine about alleged illegal payments of dividends by the company to individual non-residents.
Regarding operating expenses, Mr. Maier noted that the exact opposite happened after the purchase of the asset: operating expenses were optimized and reduced, and efficiency was increased.
“We have never paid dividends to anyone in principle. During several years of our presence in Ukraine, we did not have enough profit to pay dividends, as we covered the losses of past periods. We reinvested most of the funds that accumulated from our activities in Ukraine in the improvement of gas stations and service,” the managing director clarified.
Also, as Mr. Maier assured, AMIC Energy does not have any corporate ties with any organizations of the russian federation or individuals of this country, and the owners and beneficiaries of AMIC Energy are market professionals from Austria and Ireland.
Mr. Maier noted: “Our only connection with russia is the fact that we purchased an asset from Lukoil. Just like MOL, Slovnaft and Olerex did in other countries when Lukoil sold off its assets in Eastern Europe.”
“The bodies responsible for economic security work in extreme conditions, perhaps this explains the fact that the Bureau of Economic Security, when making its accusations against us, did not, as it seems to us, have the opportunity to get acquainted with our financial statements, as well as tax declarations and therefore made a mistake,” Maier summed up.
In turn, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Austria to Ukraine Arad Benkö, who also took part in the press conference, expressed full respect for the right of Ukrainian competent authorities to investigate cases within their jurisdiction.
“However, the Austrian Embassy also appeals to these authorities with a respectful request to ensure the adoption of those restriction measures under criminal proceedings that would meet the principles of reasonableness and proportionality and would not lead to the blocking of business in the circumstances when guilt has not been proved. The Austrian Embassy will continue to closely monitor the progress of this investigation,” the ambassador emphasized.
At the end of the conference, Larysa Antoshchuk, a senior lawyer of Asters, who is a legal adviser to AMIC Ukraine, emphasized: “In terms of issues related to intentional tax evasion, there is no proper evidence from a legal point of view in the case file. Regarding the accusations of ties to the aggressor state, there is also no evidence in the case file. The only thing there is a 2017 article from a questionable source. It is this “evidence” that is examined by pre-trial investigation bodies, and from it, a conclusion is made about the existence of a connection with russia.”
As was reported, in August 2022, at the request of the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, a seizure was imposed on the corporate rights of AMIC Ukraine CFI, which owns a large network of gas stations on the territory of Ukraine for a total amount of over UAH 50 million, which previously belonged to the russian oil company Lukoil.
According to the information from the Prosecutor General’s Office, 308 real estate objects of this enterprise were also seized, including gas stations, warehouses, and land plots.
According to the information of the prosecutor’s office, pre-trial investigation in criminal proceedings on the facts of tax evasion and legalization of property obtained through criminal means is carried out by detectives of the Bureau of Economic Security of Ukraine in cooperation with the State Tax Service of Ukraine (part 3 of article 212, part 3 of article 209 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine).
As was reported, in April 2015, Lukoil and AMIC Energy announced the closing of the agreement on the sale of 100% participation in Lukoil-Ukraine CFI, which owned about 240 gas stations and six oil depots on the territory of Ukraine. Lukoil-Ukraine CFI changed its name to AMIC Ukraine CFI, the gas stations were also rebranded.
100% of AMIC Ukraine CFI belongs to AMIC Energy Management GMBH, controlled by AMIC Energy Holding (both Austrian).
AMIC Ukraine CFI in January-September 2021 received a net profit of UAH 630.2 million, revenue of UAH 7.9 billion, while in 2020 – a net loss of UAH 1.7 billion and a revenue of UAH 7.4 billion.
In addition to Ukraine, AMIC Energy successfully operates in Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland and has its headquarters in Austria.