Court acquits ex-Vice-Mayor of Omsk accused of $1.3m misappropriation

Court acquits ex-Vice-Mayor of Omsk accused of $1.3m misappropriation
Vladimir Potapov

In Omsk, the court has acquitted two former high-ranking officials arguing there is not enough evidence.⁠

In Omsk, the court has ruled to acquit former First Vice-Mayor Vladimir Potapov and former Deputy Head of the City Department of Property Relations Viktor Sobolev. Both ex-officials are charged with exceeding official powers; after they signed a number of documents, the city suffered a damage of 80 million rubles ($1.3 million). Back then, based on the signed documentation, the city budget had to illegally reimburse this amount to Elektrotekhnichesky Kompleks (Electrotechnical Complex) OJSC for the repair of heating systems. At the same time, the court has found the evidence submitted by the prosecutor's office insufficient and removed all charges from the former officials. In addition, now they are entitled to rehabilitation and compensation of moral compensation. 

Let us recall that Potapov and Sobolev became parties in the lawsuit after the regional Investigative Committee accused them of Exceeding Official Powers and causing grave consequences (part 3 of Art. 286 of the Russian Criminal Code).

According to the investigative bodies, in 2009, Sobolev and Potapov signed documents on the acceptance of unreasonable budgetary obligations to Elektrotekhnichesky Kompleks on behalf of the city administration. This involved compensation for the costs of maintenance and repair of heating systems. At the same time, it was the services acceptance certificates and accounts reconciliation statements signed by the officials that served as the grounds for the payment of 80 million rubles from the city budget in favor of the company. Later, the Omsk City Hall was sued by companies, which got the Elektrotekhnichesky Kompleks’s right to collect debt through a chain of other organizations. 

In December 2011, Vladimir Potapov voluntarily resigned and is now retired. As for Viktor Sobolev, he left the city hall and joined the regional government; in the period from 2012 to 2014, he was the Deputy Minister of Property Relations of the region and then became the head of the Omsk business incubator.

In November 2016, the criminal case initiated against Potapov and Sobolev was referred to the Central District Court. The Prosecutor's Office asked to sentence Potapov to 3 years’ probation, and Sobolev to 3.5 years of the colony. In addition, the prosecution insisted that the ex-officials should be deprived of the right to work in local government bodies for 2 years and enter the civil service.

During the preliminary investigation and trial, Sobolev and Potapov fully denied their guilt. Moreover, they insisted that the city did not suffer any damage from the agreement concluded with Elektrotekhnichesky Kompleks, as the company repaired the heating systems in abeyance.

As a result, the court found the evidence provided by the Prosecutor's Office unconvincing and removed all charges from the officials due to “absence of the event of a crime.”

In addition, the court recognized Potapov and Sobolev’s right to rehabilitate and compensate for moral damage for unreasonable criminal prosecution.

It should also be noted that the court has refused to satisfy the Prosecutor's Office’s claim for 80 million rubles. This claim had also been filed against former officials, aimed at protecting the interests of the city budget. 

Leaving the courthouse, Sobolev and Potapov were in good spirits and congratulated each other on the victory.

Meanwhile, the Prosecutor's Office intends to file an appeal and challenge this judgment.

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