Victor KOZHENY( Business)
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Biography Victor KOZHENY
Victor Kozheny, . businessman of Czech origin, . in world financial circles is called a pirate or a poacher, . although it is quite respectable business colleagues always believed his charming, . mileyshim man and like small children being bought at any suggestion of Victor,
. Indeed, to his 36 years he managed to engage in various dubious enterprises are among the richest and most experienced people in the world that only amazed
Extravagance and charm - a visiting card Victor Kozheny. Like the Great Gatsby, he creates around itself such a strong aura of success, that before her unable to resist one. He is endowed with great natural charm, smashing the spot, unshakable self-confidence and talent to sell whatever they want without any apparent effort. Without a doubt, this is an outstanding personality.
At a young age Viktor Kozheny shown great promise. In 16 years with his parents, he moved from his native Czechoslovakia to Germany. After two years in Munich, Victor goes to a lecture by the famous American physicist Marlana Scully. During the lecture Kozheny, waving a notebook with some scrawl, loudly declares that he is a physicist-prodigy, who escaped from communist terror, and scribble in a notebook - its new physical theory. The professor is so moved by the history of the red-haired wunderkind, that invites him to study at the University of New Mexico.
Back in the U.S., a professor at the threshold of his house meets Victor, who asks to sleep and - $ 100 loan. Very quickly the professor becomes clear that the physics Kozheny, Czech dissident-prodigy, has no bearing. Yet Scully persuades the university to leave Kozheny learn and settled him in his house. Several months later, a grateful student of Professor escapes with his wife, 37-year-old mother of three children.
Next stop - Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Kozheny studying in a summer college for admission to Harvard University. And come. Six years later, having divorced his first wife and get a degree in economics, he was a bundle of brilliant advice (including from law professor and future Chief Justice Stephen Breyer) appears in the British capital. His extraordinary ease with taking on the work in the famous London bank Flemmings. A person who conducts an interview with Kozheny, so impressed by his knowledge and erudition, that not even read a single recommendation. But then something strange happens: the new employee is to work very lightly, without doing even the simplest assignments, and for days leading some talks on the phone in the Czech language. His boss Kozheny explains their puzzling behavior: they say, it has important things to do in Eastern Europe, is so important and secret that he can not even say what. Six months Kozheny fired from Flemming
1990 Victor meets with a $ 3 thousand. account, without work and with his new wife, which is also pregnant with their first child. But Kozheny not so easy to ruffle. He is already considering the prospects of business in emerging markets of Eastern Europe. A year later he moved to Prague with his secretary Lyudkov, leaving his wife and baby daughter, and started a private practice, we recommend a business consultant. Kozheny begins to build bridges and forge connections in the world of bureaucrats and politicians of their historical homeland, stubbornly trying to find the slightest chance, which would make him rich.
Chance to appear in the midst of privatization. Every citizen of the Czech Republic has the right to buy a booklet of vouchers worth $ 35 (which is almost 1 / 4 the average monthly income of citizens), and then exchange them for shares of enterprises. Not accustomed over the years of communist authorities to trust people are reluctant to give their blood for the pieces of paper.
And then appears on the stage Viktor Kozheny. His instinct did not deceive him: not to use this opportunity to simply sin. Within days he organized a group of investment funds under the high-sounding title "Harvard Fund" and declares that anyone who invested their vouchers in the "American name" will receive a tenfold profit during the year. Kozheny competently attracts investors, using large-scale advertising campaign in all media. In "Harvard fund" give vouchers more than 820 thousand. trusting Czechs.
Kozheny not have the slightest idea where he will take the money promised investors. This is him and not worry. Thanks voucher Katabasia he had made a lot of useful links in the government of the Czech Republic. For example, he regularly plays squash with the Minister of Internal Affairs. Kozheny sure that the collected vouchers and accrued connection will bring dividends in the future. His fund has collected a number of vouchers, which allows Kozheny control 15% of the Prague stock market. He exchanges a voucher for stakes in the 50 most promising companies and receives a significant share in each of them. When the action comes up for auction, the cost jumps to 20 times. And the assets of the Harvard Foundation soar to $ 1 billion
After this operation, the name Kozheny becoming famous. As befits a celebrity, he hires a staff of guards and buys a Mercedes with chauffeur. The Czech government is nervous and hastily passed a law prohibiting the investment funds to acquire more than 20% of the shares of any company.
. "They tried to slow down for me because I could buy the entire country," - boasts Kozheny in one of his interviews.
. In the press starts scandal
. Everyone is trying to figure out how Kozheny been so quick to get rich. Businessman was accused even in connection with certain former secret police agent, who allegedly sold his political secrets, dirt on ministers and information on companies in which Kozheny put vouchers. Business stubbornly defended, calling those statements blackmail, but after the start of the official investigation decided not to tempt fate. In January 1994, he is a driver and is serving in the direction of Switzerland. The investigation eventually stop, and Kozheny received his famous nickname Pirate of Prague
And so our hero is already in the Bahamas. There, he met with David McGrath, who knows all the people living in the town Layford-Kay rich and famous (for example, Sean Connery, with whom he dines). A respectable inhabitant of paradise instantly fascinated by Czech businessman who helped his country, buying equipment for hospitals almost at a loss - of a love for the motherland. Kozheny a deal with McGrath: McGrath enters it in terms of the most "promising" the inhabitants of tax havens, and Kozheny promises new partner 10% of each inmate with whom one of them deals. The fact that the transaction will no doubt Kozheny. The air smells of big money, but poor friends, he does not initiate a fundamentally.
One of the most "promising" in a list compiled with Kozheny McGrath - Michael Dingman, an influential American businessman, director of Ford Motor Company. Sign in confidence to 63-year-old Dingmanu for Victor does not make much effort, and soon he was already working with him in the same office. Dingman willingly assumes the role of protector of the young talent.
In 1995, their gaze is drawn back to the motherland Kozheny, in all senses of the road for his country. Through all the same "Harvard fund" they are gradually buying up large stakes in eight Czech manufacturing companies, with three of them - control. Dingman has invested in this case personal $ 140 million. Their aim was nothing less in their interests to restructure the entire industry of the Czech Republic.
. When the plan fails - the Czechs desperately resisting the attempts by the restructuring of enterprises - businesses define a new goal: to make money quickly and leave
. A few months Kozheny holds over thousands of complex financial transactions, which resulted in selling all the assets of the Harvard Foundation. During this time he earns, according to various estimates, from $ 200 million. up to $ 700 million, and "Harvard fund up to 80% cheaper (at the moment is its elimination).
Charges of violating the law and are cheap enough to upset. Nonsense, that this story is killing potential investors in the Czech economy every confidence in the country and therefore the Czech Republic is on the verge of financial crisis. Problems of the Czech economy it is uninteresting.
With his Bahamian friend McGrath Kozheny comes with an easy directness. When he starts to demand their legitimate 10%, Kozheny argues that McGrath made him sign a contract in a state of extreme intoxication. As a result, McGrath gets only $ 1 million, and even then only threatened litigation.
But Dingman is the best friend Kozheny. Understanding the well-known businessman Victor opens the doors of the most influential and wealthy houses the U.S.. Behave appropriately account: Victor with such a scale is spending money right and left, that even multimillionaires come as a shock. For example, he pays $ 21 thousand. for dinner for three people in the restaurant, while you are unhappy with a bottle of wine for $ 8 thousand - "too young". He buys a private jet, a fleet of luxury cars and an island in the Bahamas. Pool worth $ 14 million. in his Bahamian estate on the size of slightly less than Lake. On top of all Kozheny gets a huge house of composer Andrew Lloyd Webber in London (that outraged the entire British press), as well as luxury chalet in Aspen, a mountain resort in Colorado for $ 19.7 million
. In Aspen Dingman introduces Kozheny Rick Burkov, co-owner of the largest companies producing fashion accessories, Dooney & Bourke
. Burke becomes the latest victim of charm Kozheny. Victor invites him "good time" while traveling around the globe. Burke agrees. So, on a private plane Kozheny in May 1997, travelers go round the world flight. They stay in the most exotic places: in Minsk, Bucharest, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan
And then, going down the stairs of his plane on the shore of the Caspian Sea, Victor clearly feels the smell of huge money. Smells like vouchers, access to which he is able to perfectly.
Unlike the Czechs Azerbaijani citizens receive vouchers for free. Process in the country is in full swing - Government officials already in full privatizing barbershops and bakeries. In the long term privatization of large enterprises that may be of interest of foreign investors. Accordingly, there is lot of different caliber dealers who buy vouchers from the population. Kozheny thinks long. To awaken "sleeping beauty", so romantic, he calls Azerbaijan, Kozheny command collects and buys vouchers for $ 150 million. By the end of 1997, he prepared an action plan: to collect them enough to buy a single, in his view, deserved the attention of the public company in Azerbaijan - the oil giant SOCAR.
. Here he writes about Azerbaijan magazine Forbes: "This is one of the most corrupt and mysterious countries in the world
. The expression "investment risk" in relation to Azerbaijan is presented throughout the depth of its meaning. In this small country 10 years after the beginning of the great capitalist experiment has no stock market or any specific type of financial regulation, but have great experience of bribery and nepotism.
. The main component of Azerbaijan's economy - oil
. A tiny state sandwiched between Russia and Iran - one of the largest oil producers in the world. Suffice it to say that in 1900 the territory of Azerbaijan had more than half of global oil. Since coming to power Heydar Aliyev started here, this oil boom. The country, which has about 10 billion. barrels of proven oil reserves, has become a tasty morsel for Western investors. No wonder that, if someone managed to buy an oil company SOCAR, this would be a deal of the century.
December 20, 1997 Kozheny begins to gather around its Azeri investment company. Together with the former secretary Lyudkov, dazzling beauty, and his third wife, Victor rolls in his Aspen luxury chalets reception. And not just a luxury reception, and the party that residents of Aspen will be remembered a few years. We have invited 150 guests (many of which Kozheny even in the face not seen) - the richest and most famous of Victor's neighbors, including the brilliant billionaire Ivana Trump. Champagne and expensive wines poured a river, the audience entertained singer Natalie Cole. Each guest receives a gift from the owner of jewelry from Asprey & Garrard, the exclusive jewelry store in London. A simple human desire to get acquainted with neighbors Kozheny cost of $ 1 million
Kozheny going to convince his new friends to invest in the "second Kuwait" and promises them hundred-fold return. Outreach is conducted directly in Aspen. It is on vacation Kozheny might and main subject of the "new great opportunities for Azerbaijan. He invites friends, always happy with receptions and parties. They ride on his plane, dine at the best restaurants, stay at the best hotels. By early 1998, Aspen Recalls fan club of Azerbaijan. All people are talking about the Caspian oil. At receptions, one can often hear the phrase, pronounced as if in confidence: "And you, too, in ViktoraN" By the way, direct text Kozheny money, no one asks. He give yourself. Even persuade. One investor says: "People are literally throwing his money."
. Among Victor loaned millions of dollars - his friend travel jeweler Burke, Richard Friedman, delivers one of his houses the Clintons, George Mitchell, former head of the majority in the Senate
. Kozheny turns his eyes and on Wall Street. After some doubt hedge fund Omega Advisors and the largest U.S. insurance company AIG provide a draft oil money - far more than expected Kozheny. In general, raised $ 450 million, and then an old friend Dingman adds another $ 250 million. Money Kozheny puts the account in a Swiss bank.
From President Aliyev, without the knowledge of which does not take any political decision in Azerbaijan, much depends. But all investors - from the Azeri officials until Kozheny - convinced that there is no reason to worry: the privatization of SOCAR to begin soon. Some of the investors personally meet with Aliyev, and he tells them the same. Kozheny brags: "We are - in bed with the president."
And as it was not veritN Kozheny When partners came to Baku, they gave parties, worthy of the royals. They met with high ranking politicians, including Baratov Nureyev, the second man in the Committee of State Property. Nureyev, a former professor of mathematics, intelligent and charming man, moreover, speaks English perfectly, just captivates foreigners. They trust him unconditionally, and he, in turn, calms them, promising early start of the privatization of the oil company. By the way, Nureyev on operations with vouchers earned, by some estimates, $ 2.8 million
Thus, the spring of 1998, the Americans are in full confidence that everything goes according to plan and huge profits will soon flow into their pockets. Tom Farrell, trustee Kozheny, buying vouchers boxes. Pay cash, and for this purpose from Zurich Farrell brings a few suitcases full of money (by experimentation Kozheny calculated that in each bag fits exactly 5 million). Victor opens in Baku, the investment bank Minaret Group, the most expensive office building in the city, and invites executives and staff from the United States, promising them huge interest. To store vouchers, he builds a huge armored bunker with steel doors, round the clock tight security and surveillance system. Conduct its business in Azerbaijan is now engaged in the bank.
. Whenever possible, Americans are trying to do something nice for his Azeri friends: to help the son of Nureyev at the university of Michigan, to arrange his daughter and granddaughter of a meeting with their favorite Back Street Boys
. And the privatization of everything does not start. It takes a year since the beginning of the enterprise. For many months, Nureyev and the Government of Azerbaijan assure investors that the process is about to go. Since April, the date of transfer in June, then - at the end of summer. Finally, the Americans announced that after the presidential election to privatize SOCAR will be almost the next day. Mutual affection ends unexpectedly - Aliyev suddenly refuses to offer investors to invest in the reconstruction of the center of Baku, $ 15 million, and after the presidential elections, privatization and do not think to start.
. In the Minaret Group begins to suspect something was wrong - you can not only did not earn, but to lose all the money to the last penny
. Representatives of Omega, and several other large investors, specifically fly to Azerbaijan to discuss the situation with local politicians. And in response to receiving meals on duty and assurances that everything will be fine. Back in the U.S., one of the partners asked Kozheny (by then already a very long time does not appear in Baku) on when, in fact, expire vouchers. Strangely, no one had bothered to ask this simple question. It turns out expiry date - August 2000. "And what will happen to them if the privatization of hitherto not nachnetsyaN" "They can be okleit wall" - suggests a good-natured Victor.
The question is who gets cheated. Investors learned that Kozheny purchased from the Azerbaijani government options on vouchers is not $ 25, as claimed, but less than $ 1. Only corporate investors (Omega and AIG) allocated Kozheny $ 100 million. purchase options. However, the EU documents received by Omega, said that Azerbaijani officials have received stock options for a total of $ 13 million. Investors logical to assume that the fate of the remaining amount could arise in different ways: the money could put in his pocket Kozheny; can assign Azeris, perhaps Kozheny and Azerbaijanis have divided them among themselves.
. Naturally Kozheny immediately begin to suspect fraud
. But the proposals met businessman politely does not respond, but before the expiry of vouchers is less than half. Sophisticated western investors, with each day to lose all hope of a successful outcome of the case, look like a complete idiot.
. Not surprising that all participants in the failed project frantically trying to shove the blame for what happened at each other
. Investors who lost to Victor Kozheny a-year student, loudly declare that he was "seduced" them. Omega and AIG filed on Kozheny to court, demanding compensation for damages. It is not known whether they will achieve their because Victor honoring the Criminal Code. He himself considers the incident very differently and is not going to take the blame. First Kozheny blamed Azeri officials. According to him, they blatantly cheated him after received millions of dollars in bribes. However, the Azerbaijani authorities deny the existence of corruption in the country. Hafiz Pashayev, Azerbaijani Ambassador to the United States, said: "The West can make investments in Azerbaijan's economy, but not with Kozheny". Nureyev argues that none of the officials did not take any money from Kozheny.
Kozheny even upset by the ungrateful behavior of investors. After all, they knew what went on, and he himself, incidentally, has suffered - Victor recently tried to exchange at least some of their vouchers in a small proportion of the Azeri company, but refused to accept vouchers.
. Tom Farrell, who first arrived in Azerbaijan on behalf of Kozheny, while Russia has been living for 10 years, does not feel sympathy for the partners Victor
. He believes that their greed has ruined. Experienced businessmen could not know that such an undertaking is extremely risky, and the fabulous interest is simply not. Especially difficult to imagine that President Aliyev would sell an inexhaustible source of wealth for all Azeri officials handful of foreigners. Everything is explained simply. Kozheny was a Millionaire boyfriend, close in spirit and place of residence and to the same insanely charming. He introduced into this story romantic spirit of adventure, in which adult uncle dived in head. One of the representatives of Omega, confirming unearthly charm Kozheny, compares it with a puppy: "When you play with him, then he is nice and touching. But we have only to turn away, as he immediately makes a mess on the carpet.
Recently, 36-year Kozheny sold a house with a giant swimming pool in the Bahamas, yacht, airplane and car park, leaving himself only a "Mercedes". He is full of new ideas - to start a business online, do the teaching. Course of lectures he had already thought of: "Business in unmanaged environment," "The experience in the real world". Maybe Kozheny really did not take denegN Indeed, if he got something, he would have arranged another party for friends! And Victor has not anyone sends invitation letters.