Mr. Orphanides,

I read your letter with sincere surprise because I thought that we had fully clarified the situation related to the management of the assets belonging to Transneft’s pension fund. Therefore, I will allow myself to repeat the previously repeated (in press releases, in responses to your requests for the first two articles) statements:
• RONIN-Trust Company, when concluding the trust-management agreement, only communicated with representatives of the Transneft pension fund and not with anyone from the parent company. The competition was open and several companies in addition to RONIN Trust were selected to manage assets.

• No additional agreements, conditions, payments, and/or obligations were made or carried out with anyone during the process of reaching the agreement.

• RONIN-Trust managed the assets of about 20 different pension funds at various times, and the pension fund of Transneft was far from the largest client. Furthermore, many asset management companies not associated with RONIN Trust managed the assets of Transneft pension fund.

• The agreement with the Pension Fund was finalized in 2008 and ceased to be in force in 2018. ALL ASSETS were fully returned to the Pension Fund, including the income received as a result of management EXCEEDING the average market benchmarks.

• The investment of assets was carried out exclusively in market securities traded on the Moscow Stock Exchange — no loans, no non-market securities and/or etc. were used.

• The fund manager’s remuneration was likely below the market-average.

• When acquiring NM-Trust, no sellers of shares were affiliated with any representatives of Transneft or the Transneft pension fund, and the transaction was carried out at the cost of the company’s own funds without any significant premium.

All these facts are not unfounded, but have been repeatedly verified and confirmed by independent auditors’ reports, a regulator, rating agencies, etc. Additionally, it should be noted that RONIN Partners withdrew from all Russian assets in 2022, which is naturally related to events in Ukraine and has nothing to do with the scenario you created.

To be truthful, it is not even clear to me where in this trust management agreement you are trying to insert the alleged possible abuses that served as the source to “amass wealth»?
It seems that the idea that one can honestly manage and return money and earned income does not even occur to you.

With deep dissatisfaction, I want to note that all of our previous comments on your so-called `investigations’ were not used or were quoted only partially without the inclusion of essential facts.

From my point of view, your articles are not an investigation. They are a combination of falsehoods and part truths that lack a criminal component, but are presented in a way to hint that some kind of abuse was committed. For example, in your last article, you wrote that a shareholder of the group gave a loan to another company, which, in turn, gave a loan for the construction of German real estate. Yes, there was such a loan, and it is reflected in our public reports. You did not bother to ask for an explanation and did not look at our reports that show it was a short-term loan secured by securities, a REPO to be more precise. And what relation does a ten-day loan made over the New Year holiday period have to do with a development project? The Germans are building fast, but still… And furthermore, even if we had financed the construction in Germany, so what?

Or, for example, you use a brilliant manipulation, when in the initial paragraphs you say that the RONIN Trust managed the assets of the pension fund, then suddenly the topic changes, and a few paragraphs later the story suddenly says that another management company lost/stole the pension fund’s money. Brilliant move! An inattentive reader (and there is hardly anyone that would read your opuses carefully) will remember that RONIN Trust managed, someone stole, either them or not them, and, of course, there are no comments that RONIN Trust returned everything and the client made a profit. Why? Because your goal is different – to create the feeling of dirt where there is none. And similar is done in many other passages. This is a well–known technique, especially for artists — if you mix a lot of clean paints, you will get dirt.

We have repeatedly invited you to the office, thinking that maybe you just do not have enough financial literacy to understand what is happening and how. We were surprised to be ignored.

Consider this letter a response to your appeal, and so that you cannot ignore it once again, we are preemptively ready to publish it on our website, because we are not trying to hide anything at all. We are ready for honest investigations but unwilling to face bespoke mudslinging.

I do not question your right as a journalist to investigate and make publications. However, we have serious reasons to believe that your interest is motivated by third parties, so we are forced to turn to law enforcement agencies for protection of our interests, so should you proceed with any publications or any form of representations to anyone about Ronin or its employees which are false, misleading or in any way inaccurate, that would in any way damage the reputation of Ronin or its officers or employees we will pursue every possible legal recourse against you and your publishing house, civil or criminal, in all applicable jurisdictions.