Posted 11 января 2021,, 11:53

Published 11 января 2021,, 11:53

Modified 24 декабря 2022,, 22:37

Updated 24 декабря 2022,, 22:37

Secrets without the insurance. Why Willis comes to Russia

Secrets without the insurance. Why Willis comes to Russia

11 января 2021, 11:53
In 2020, the media spread the news about the possible appearance of an insurance super-giant - the joint corporation "Willis AON". According to the Central Bank, a new player can occupy 30-40 percent of the existing market. "Novye Izvestia" has found out how this can threaten Russian companies.

Ivan Petrovsky

Today the insurance broker "Willis CIS" occupies 31 percent of the Russian market. Sberbank, the second-largest insurance broker, has 10 percent less. If "Willis" merges with Caller ID (the third position in the list with a 10 percent share), we will get a classic monopolist.

The dangers of monopolies in any market are well described in economics and history textbooks. But in our case, another aspect is important, namely, the economic security of Russia.

"Lukoil", "Gazprom", "Rosneft", "Sibur", "Alrosa", "Novatek", "Metalloinvest", "SUEK", "Gazpromneft", "OMK" (United Metallurgical Company), KTK-R (Caspian Pipeline Consortium R) are only a tiny fraction of the broker's Russian clients, about whom the insurance broker "Willis" knows the most detailed nuances of the technical condition of infrastructure facilities, understands production relationships and has information on the prospects for modernization and expansion of production. Strategic enterprises of Russia appear transparent in the eye of Big Western Brother, which every now and then includes new sanctions or unleashes economic wars with far reaching goals (in this sense, the story of Nord Stream 2 and the US desire to move Russia in the EU energy market is very indicative).

Of course, you can always refer to the confidentiality of insurance contracts and the broker's duty to keep commercial secrets of clients. And then there is no doubt about their honesty. But only as long as they themselves do not become objects of investigation by the regulatory and law enforcement agencies of their countries.

As an example, let us describe the situation with the investigation of the European Commission against the insurer. As reported by Reuters, the members of the new super-monopoly did not agree with certain requirements of the European controllers, they took offense - they took a bite at the bit and initiated a showdown with the merger of Willis and GA.

"What's again?" - will say people familiar with the history of the company.

A scandal almost 10 years ago comes to mind. In July 2011, the media reported:

The UK Financial Services Authority (FSA) has fined Willis £ 6.895 million ($ 10.3 million) for failings in its anti-bribery and corruption systems and controls.It is the biggest fine imposed by the FSA over financial controls and relates to £ 27 million ( $ 40.5 million) in payments to overseas third parties between January 2005 and December 2009. Payments for business in Egypt and Russia have been reported to the Serious Organized Crime Agency.

In other words, we are talking about more than serious "shortcomings". But in this context, the more than cautious conclusion of the UK Financial Conduct Authority is surprising. The word "corruption" was present in the message, but the wording sounded rather vague:

""Willis Limited" did not take appropriate steps to ensure that payments it made to third parties abroad were not used for corrupt purposes" (a full copy of the document is in the editorial office - noted by "Novye Izvestia").

You can endlessly ironic over the bureaucratic language of the English. But the mild formulation (in our value judgment) is not accidental. For “payments” of 27 million pounds, the company had to pay only 6 million pounds in fine. This usually happens when other "useful services" to the investigation become the subject of agreements with state regulators - for example, a detailed exchange of information with the security forces. After all, the Anglo-Saxon system of inquiry is very simple. If you don’t want to pay, hand over your corrupt neighbor. If a neighbor lives and works in a potential rival country, that's even better. It is not a pity to exchange a bunch of such "neighbors" for a reduction in the fine several times from the possible amount and the prospects for further trouble-free development of the corporation.

It is possible that the mild punishment for "Willis" meant carte blanche for the continuation of dubious practices. After all, less than a year later, the insurer was again at the center of a scandal.

As it was reported in March, 2012 by the British edition Insurance Day, Terry West, the manager of one of the largest insurance brokers in the world Willis, was suspended from work due to the suspicions of corruption in doing business in the CIS countries. West worked with Aeroflot, the cargo carrier Volga-Dnepr, and Terminal, which built and maintains Terminal D at Sheremetyevo airport.

And a little before the "aviation" scandal, it was reported about the removal of an English broker who worked with another strategic enterprise in Russia - Severstal.

Thus, as a result of all these investigations and "inquiries", most of the largest technology giants in Russia could have fallen under the hood of various services in the UK and other Western countries.

It is no coincidence that the report of its auditor, Deloitte & Touche, contains a clause on “the non-application of disclosure standards by the Willis management”.

It sounds tricky, but those who understand accounting can easily figure out what these words mean and why they are entered by auditors, who understand that in case of an investigation, heads will fly and do not want to put their necks under the ax.

To get away from the tenacious eyes of auditors and regulators, it was necessary to invent a new scheme.

According to informed sources, in recent years, employee premiums within the broker have grown exponentially. And so much so that the amount of bonuses for just a few people turned out to be more than the profit of the entire company.

The scheme is easily visible in the official statement of cash flows (available at the disposal of the editors - noted by "Novye Izvestia").

We open and look. With revenues of 6 billion rubles in 2013, the wages of employees accounted for 227 million rubles. And in 2017, with a decrease in revenues by almost 3 times, the "wages of employees" doubled. It is a pity that the financial statements available to journalists ends in 2017, because sources say that the bonuses of only a couple of employees in the last year exceeded 1.5 billion rubles. Such large sums, if confirmed, will definitely become a reason to get excited by all the inspectors, who may ask a logical question - how is the cash for payments to brokers formed? Are there any dubious gasket firms from various constituent entities of the Russian Federation in the scheme?..

The new investigation by the European Commission will almost certainly end, like the old one - with soft language and tough covert measures. But in any case, it can be predicted that the European security forces will receive another block of information fantastically important for the national interests of their countries.