A lawyer from the city of Ozersk, a member of the public council under the Ministry of Energy and Tariff Regulation of the Chelyabinsk Region, Yevgeny Shitikov drew attention to the situation. He saw hundreds of lawsuits in the magistrates' database with writ already issued. On a regional scale, there may be about 50,000 such debtors. At the same time, the limitation period - three years - has long expired, and they have no right to collect these debts. Shitikov found, among the debtors, acquaintances who claim that they never had a debt for electricity.
“The wife of a classmate turned to me, from whom 16,000 rubles were written off”, - says Yevgeny Shitikov, “while she cannot have a debt in principle. She is a rural teacher and receives a subsidy. First she pays the receipt, then she is compensated for half. Without payment, she simply will not be given a payment. Therefore, there simply cannot be debts. The bailiffs deducted money from another acquaintance's card when he was in the south, it was money for the return trip, he had to urgently borrow it. At the same time, the debt was with the wife, but they were written off from the husband.
According to the lawyer, people have a chance to recoup these debts, but until the moment when the order comes to the bailiffs. If they write off money from the card, then the funds will fall into the bankruptcy estate of the debtor. It will be possible to prove in court that the debt is not legal, but the person will simply stand in a long line of creditors and will never receive their funds back.
“It is not difficult to cancel the debt, the reason for this is the missed deadlines. But the courts themselves do not put forward this argument, it is necessary for the defendant to state it, but he is not invited to the court, he does not even know that he is being judged somewhere. The problem is that the magistrates' courts do not send out notifications for consideration of such applications, - says Shitikov, - people see a debt in the State Services only when it appears at the bailiffs. At this point, nothing can be done. You can track by your last name on the website of the world court, but on which one? Only in Chelyabinsk there are 60 of them. If the courts would transfer the data to the State Services, I think many would be able to recoup these debts, but they don’t do that. I plan to launch the Anticollector website by autumn, where data from all world courts in the region will be accumulated, so that it would be easier to search for yourself in the database.”
In the Chelyabinsk region, there may be about 50 thousand people who may suddenly remember old debts or make dubious claims.
“Last year, Chelyabenergosbyt tried to sell the debts of individuals in one lot, but failed, then there were about 200 thousand debtors in the database, but they are unlikely to sue for small debts. With amounts from 3,000 rubles, about 50,000 people. Moreover, the maximum amount reaches 300,000 rubles. Where these amounts come from is a mystery. And it’s impossible to clarify anything, since there is no one in the company, the office is closed, the phones are not working,” says Yevgeny Shitikov.
Debtors of legal entities also experience similar problems. There are a lot of lawsuits from Chelyabenergosbyt against commercial consumers in the arbitration filing cabinet. According to Yevgeny Shitikov, some of the claims look strange.
“A few months before bankruptcy in 2018, legal entities received letters from the energy supplier proposing to transfer energy payments to the company’s accounts from Arkhangelsk,” he says, “the companies regularly paid, and now the bankruptcy trustee sees that over these several months there is an overdue debt and sue. Those who have preserved this correspondence beat off claims, and those who do not have to pay.”
The bankruptcy trustee of Chelyabenergosbyt PJSC Danil Yelistratov refused to comment on the procedure for collecting debts from individuals to Novye Izvestia.
It should be noted that the bankruptcy of Chelyabenergosbyt was a high-profile event in the energy market in Russia. Until 2015, the company was owned by Ural businessmen Mark Leyvikov, Sergey and Evgeny Weinstein. But they sold the business to the Mezhregionsoyuzenergo group of companies, which did business in the energy sector in several regions of the country. In 2017, Chelyabenergosbyt was deprived of the status of a supplier of last resort due to violations, effectively forbidding business. The new owners fled the country, and the company was soon declared bankrupt. The amount of claims against the company is estimated at several billion rubles. The bankruptcy trustee is now trying to bring several dozen people to subsidiary liability for the company's debts, including not only co-owners, including former ones who sold the business, but also top managers.