Corruption fighters and 10 million rubles in gold
An end was finally put to investigation of a controversial case concerned with gold theft committed in the Krasnoyarsk region. People steal gold from local fields on regular basis. This case was special, however, since the people, who tried to steal 10 million rubles in gold from the field, turned out to be police officers.
Yet another theft of the century took place in the Eruda work settlement, the Severo-Yeniseisky District of the Krasnoyarsk region. Several City of Chelyabinsk police officers lost their jobs as a result. There is the Olimpiadinskoe gold field, the largest Russian field in development, near the settlement. A mineral processing and gold recovering plants operate near it. The Polyus Gold gold mining company is their owner.
Polyus Gold is the largest Russian gold producer and one of the 10 leading gold mining companies in terms of volume in the world. The company owns one of the largest gold reserves in the world (its proved and possible reserves amount to 65.8 million ounces, according to international classification). The Suleyman Kerimov Foundation and Said Kerimov, the Senator’s son, controls the company. Suleyman Kerimov is the incorporator of the Foundation. The Standard & Poor's International Rating Agency was the 1st one to award Polyus Gold the BB-long term corporate credit rating with stable forecast.
It all started with as trivial a thing as greed. Little to no one can remain indifferent to gold glitter. Even less people can resists temptation to enrich themselves overnight once they get their hands on it. Even if this means breaking the law; even if a particular person is to protect it. Maksim Petrov, the special investigative agent of the Department for Combating Financial Crime, fell victim to the temptation. The crime and corruption fighter is from the Town of Plasta, the Chelyabinsk Region. He used his police connections and learned something noteworthy in 2014: an acquaintance of his who had left for the northern part of the Krasnodar region to work on a watch schedule mining gold was secretly stealing it. Mr Petrov’s acquaintance agreed to meet with him during his short stay in the home town. The officer then threatened to open a case against him unless the man gave him a cut. He told him about several instances of him illicitly selling gold concentrate that he knew about in order to persuade the thief. The illicit sales mentioned occurred between April and September 2014. The miner would have faced several years in prison if he refused to give the officer his cut. Naturally, the gold mining company maintenance technician chose to pay. He agreed to hand him 1 200 000 rubles in exchange for his lack of action, or rather excess of silence. He made a mistake, however. Blackmailers are never content with just one payment, especially when their victims still have access to money.
The officer quickly realized he should seize gold since it was there for the taking. He made a new demand: he wanted gold in exchange for not opening a case. He told the technician he could start an investigation against him any time he wanted to. The man had to choices: either he parts with his freedom - or heath - or provides the blackmailer with gold. The victim got scarred after the officer threated physical violence; he agreed to steal gold and silver concentrate from the plant. However, on the second thought he realized this would not stop the blackmailer; it made him surrender to the FSB.
The following events were supervised by intelligence agencies. The operation was called Investigative Experiment (Operativny eksperiment). The victim agreed to meet Mr Petrov on a certain day; he promised he would bring stolen gold to a specific place for the officer to pick it up. The 33 y. o. perpetrator was going to spend his gold reserve in his home town in the Chelyabinsk Region. He had to transport it there, however. There are several thousand kilometers between the Region and Krasnoyarsk Krai. He refused the plane and train option right away; a car ride was his best chance to get it there safely. It is dangerous to go on such a long trip with such a cargo, however. Vasily Cheskidov, his colleague, and Aleksandr Tereshkov, his relative, agreed to accompany him. He shared the illegal plan details with them prior to the ride. The three men left the Chelyabinsk Region and went to the Eruda gold field, the Extreme North.
The technician followed the Operation’s plan and handed the officer fine-dust metal gold containing 11 million rubles worth of precious metals (4 645 grams of chemically pure gold worth 10 740 924 rubles and 1 295 grams of chemically pure silver worth 40 124 rubles). The officer proceeded to loading it into his car he had used to come to the place with the 2 accomplices. The Federal Security Service Directorate in the Krasnoyarsk region officers arrested them after that. The operation was carried out March 17, 2015. However, there was a time gap between the gold transfer and arrest, according to some sources. The 2 police officers had come there several month before that, literary sitting on the stolen gold all the time, according to some sources. They decided to leave and go home with the gold when Mr Petrov’s relative came to Eruda. Nevertheless, the 3 of them were caught as the result. The Directorate officers returned the gold to Polyus Gold and opened criminal cases against the 3 thieves on the allegation of breaking several articles: Incitement to Theft, Illegal Turnover of Precious Metals, Natural Precious Stones and Pearls, and Bribe Taking. Officer Petrov was arrested November 10 in Eruda, six months later, on the Ministry of Interior Affairs of the Russian Federation Employees Day. He and Mr Cheskidov, his accomplice and colleague, were dismissed not long before that. None of the accused admitted their guilt at the time.
It is worth mentioning Mr Petrov’s plan is not the first attempt at stealing kilos of gold from the plant. Police arrested a plant worker who managed to steal almost 20 kg 3 year prior to the arrest, March 2012. The crime was committed against Polyus Gold, too. The man worked at the plant’s packaging shop. He made a hole in the wall; it led to a cellar. He would throw plastic packages filled with gold concentrate there. He would then pass security checks and enter the cellar from the side that was not guarded to collect the gold. He was arrested during one such raid. The thief had been stealing gold in such a fashion for several months; he started doing so December 2011, according to investigators. He kept the stolen gold in his changing cubicle in his dormitory and in a stash. Police confiscated 19.69 kg of gold-containing substance from the illicit millionaire as a result of searches. The substance turned out to be top quality (24 karat) chemically pure gold, according to experts. One could smelt more than 14 kg of pure gold worth more than 20 million rubles from it.
The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation completed the investigation and transferred Mr Petrov’s case to court. The 33 y. o. special investigative agent of the Department for Combating Financial Crime in the Plastovsky District in the Chelyabinsk Region was accused of breaking part 4 of Art. 33, part 4 of Art. 158, item (b), part 6 of Art. 290, part 2 of Art. 191 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Incitement to Theft, Theft committed on an especially large scale, Bribe-Taking on an especially large scale, Illegal Turnover of Precious Metals, Natural Precious Stones and Pearls made by a group of persons by previous concert). The 32 y. o. former police driver of the special investigative group of the Department of Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation in the Plastovsky District and 58 y. o. Chelyabinsk Region resident were accused of breaking part 2 of Article 191 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Illegal Turnover of Precious Metals, Natural Precious Stones and Pearls made by a group of persons by previous concert). The former police officers ended up partially admitting their guilt in court. Vasily Cheskidov confessed to transporting the gold. Maksim Petrov agreed with all the accusations but for the bribe taking one. He insisted he was not guilty of it. However, court found sufficient evidence and sentenced him for Bribe Taking and Illegal Turnover of Precious Metals, Natural Precious Stones and Pearls. Mr Petrov was sentenced to 9.5 years in maximum security prison. The 2 accomplices were given 2.5-year suspended sentences plus 2.5-year probation period. It is yet to be known whether the technician faced any punishment or walked away with his crime thanks to him cooperating with the investigation.
Saburova believes that the Russian authorities violated articles 2 and 5 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, guaranteeing the right to life, as well as the right to freedom and personal inviolability.