Fictitious divorces help officials to circumvent anti-corruption laws 

Fictitious divorces help officials to circumvent anti-corruption laws

Russian politics is not compatible with family life. In any case, it may seem at first glance at the statistics of officials’ divorces over the past few years. For example, if only seven deputies of the previous - the fifth - convening of the State Duma parted with their spouses, in this composition, already 102 couples divorced.

However, it all began in 2013, when a new anti-corruption law requiring civil servants and members of the Parliament to declare information about their income and property (their own as well as their spouses and minor children) was passed in Russia. Transfer of business and property of questionable origin which are compatible with public service to their significant others and registration of fictitious divorces seem to have become the salvation for many officials. This, in particular, said the MP from the Communist Party Vadim Solovyov, who in June presented a bill to the State Duma requiring officials to declare the income of the former spouse.

 −  We are bringing a bill on the prohibition for the deputies and officials to divorce. This is its conventional name. In fact, it amends the anti-corruption law. According to this amendment, the spouse is the person, who is legally married and accepted the termination of the marriage, but continues living together and housekeeping, i.e. live with a person in a conjugal relationship outside marriage (civil marriage), said Solovyov, offering to introduce a mandatory declaration of information about the ex-spouses’ for a further five years after the divorce.

Fictitious termination of marriage, according to the communist, must be punished by a dismissal from office and fine in amount of no less than 1 million rubles. Which of the officials is under suspicion?

Владимир Жириновский

Vladimir Zhirinovsky   

State Duma deputy from the Liberal Democratic Party

In April 2013, a scandal broke around Zhirinovsky’s family life. A member of the party Spravedlivaya Rossiya (Fair Russia) Ilya Ponomarev accused Zhirinovsky of a fictitious divorce and appealed to the State Duma income commission with the requirement to check whether the deputy is trying to hide his real incomes. Indeed, he regularly filed his wife’s income statements until 2012, when the new anti-corruption legislation was actively discussed. According to the latest data for 2011, Galina had revenue of 71 million rubles, 16 plots of land, 7 non-residential buildings, three apartments, two houses and two cars of foreign manufacture. A year later, Zhirinovsky’s wealth without his wife’s possessions looked much more modest: 2.5 million rubles of income, only eight plots and domestic Volga. The wife was out of the declaration, according to the deputy, as not wanted in it: a piece of paper on the legal divorce required by the current anti-corruption law is dated 1978, and nearly 40 years of the religious marriage and the million dollar property jointly acquired over the years just do not count. However, then why would he indicate information about spouse’s income in the previous period, remained a mystery. Whatever it was for, the court shared this opinion, and ordered Ponomarev to pay Zhirinovsky 50 thousand rubles for non-pecuniary damages.

Сергей Собянин

Sergey Sobyanin

The Mayor of Moscow    

The Moscow Mayor divorced his wife Irina in 2014, after the adoption of anti-corruption law. Although, according to Sobyanin  his wife worked as a kindergarten teacher, in 2011, it was her name with which the media linked a sensational replacement of 4 million square meters of asphalt with the tiles in the Russian capital. The initiative of the gentrification of Moscow belonged to the Mayor, and Irina, according to some information, owned the company Aerodromdorstroy supplying paving slabs and curbs in Tyumen, where the couple moved from. However, Sobyanin did not declare a conflict of interest. And in the income statement, even if the wife pointed out a very small figure - 42 thousand rubles for the year 2012, when he earned 5.3 million rubles. The questions about his other family members that aroused later the Mayor left without attention. So, in 2013, the Anti-Corruption Foundation required to explain the origin of a 308.1 square meters apartment that belonged to his daughter Olga (born in 1997) since 2010. According to Alexey Navalny’s calculations, the cost of the apartment was about 173 million rubles, which is six times higher than the official’s income for the previous ten years. Also, the opposition appealed to the Prosecutor's Office and the Investigative Committee demanding an investigation against Sobyanin's eldest daughter Anna (born 1986). She was the happy owner of an apartment of 205 square meters in the center of St. Petersburg for 116.6 million rubles and the co-founder of Forus Group which was engaged in repair and supply of furniture for the Russian President’s meeting, Reception House of the Ministry of Defense and several administrative buildings in Khanty-Mansiysk.

Максим Ликсутов

Maxim Liskutov

The Vice-Mayor of Moscow, Head of the Moscow Department of Transportation and Development of road transport infrastructure

The anti-corruption law seems to have become crucial for the couple of Maxim and Tatiana Liskutovs as well. Becoming a public servant, the co-owner of the Aeroexpress (12.5%), the Transmashholding (8%) and the TransGroup (25%) had promised to stop participating in the business for the benefit of the other shareholders. Part of the assets was bought out by his business partners: Iskander Makhmudov and Andrey Bokarev. However, in October 2013, it became known that Liksutov’s main assets were transferred to his wife, a citizen of Estonia, with whom he had divorced a few months before. Thus, the question of conflict of interest that inevitably arise when the wife of the head of the transport department of Moscow owns transport companies operating in the capital of Russia merely disappeared. In addition, the divorce helped Liksutov to circumvent the law prohibiting officials and their spouses to have foreign assets. The offshore shares were also transferred to Tatiana, namely those of the Bahamian Venlaw Consultants Co. Inc. and Cyprus Cantazaro Limited (the latter, from 2008 to 2013, belonged to another offshore company - TG Rail – the Estonian branch of Transgroup Invest AS, in which Liksutov owned a 50% stake), the details of which appeared in the sensational Panama dossier. As a result, in October 2013, the Estonian newspaper Aripaev named the Moscow Vice-Mayor’s ex-wife the richest woman in Estonia with a fortune of € 103.6 million. Before the divorce in 2012, Maxim Liksutov was the richest metropolitan officials with an income of almost 270 million rubles. In 2013, Forbes magazine estimated his fortune at $ 650 million.

Денис Вороненков

Denis Voronenkov

State Duma deputy from the Communist Party

Against the State Duma Security and Anti-Corruption Committee member several accusations were brought. In 2014, the Moscow Department of the Investigative Committee sent a request to the State Duma for deprivation of Voronenkov’s deputy immunity in connection with the criminal case on the organization of a raider seizure of the building in central Moscow. He is accused of plagiarism, when writing his doctoral thesis, which he defended in 2009 in the Russian Legal Academy of the Ministry of Justice. Finally, his name is associated with two offshore companies from the controversial Mossack Fonseca database. The company Tarrington Real Estates S.A. and Kaul Engineering Ltd., which operated, from 2007 to 2012, in the British Virgin Islands, stood in the name of the Deputy’s namesake. The namesake’s address in the documents matches the address of the apartment, of which the Deputy and his ex-wife Julia previously were the owners. With her he divorced after the adoption of anti-corruption law, and therefore may well be held to account for the presence of foreign assets inconsistent with the deputy mandate. However, in 2015, Vororenkov married the colleague: the Deputy from Edinaya Rossiya (United Russia) Mariya Maksakova. So far, the politician is quite actively involved in the parliamentary elections that will take place in September and is running on the Nizhny Novgorod single member constituency.

Андрей Исаев

Andrey Isayev

State Duma deputy from the Edinaya Rossiya Party

In 2012, the bloggers discovered that the Deputy and his wife Alina Dalskaya own an undeclared hotel on their own land plot of 2.6 thousand square meters in Germany. It was the pilgrimage center of the Russian Orthodox Church. Deputies from the Fair Russia party Ilya Ponomarev and Dmitry Gudkov, suspected the Deputy in hotel management, while the law had already prohibited the conduct of business by officials. Isaev has promised to improve and to sell his share of the ill-fated hotel, which as he said, did not bring any revenue. The Deputy also said that he and his wife are willing to get rid of it, if the law on prohibiting spouses of officials to own foreign assets is passed. The law was eventually passed, but the issue had already been resolved in a different way: the couple divorced. At the moment of parting, Dalskaya’s income amounted to 19 million rubles, Isayev’s was only 3.7 million rubles.

Владислав Резник

Vladislav Reznik

State Duma deputy from the Edinaya Rossiya Party

The first Deputy Chairman of the Duma Committee on Financial Markets, placed on the international wanted list in Spain in the framework of the money laundering case did not indicated his wife in the declaration in 2015; the banker and Chairman of the endowment fund of the Jewish Museum in Moscow, Diana Gindin, in whom Interpol is also interested. Together with her, an apartment of 224 square meters in the US disappeared from it, as well as the income of the spouses in amount of 75 million rubles. At the same time, the single Deputy earned 5 times less than last year, compared to the last family year (72.9 million rubles to 375, 2 million rubles).

Николай Борцов

Nikolay Bortsov

State Duma deputy from the Edinaya Rossiya Party

One of the richest Russian officials Nikolay Bortsov also gave up his marriage for the deputy chair. The former owner of Lebedyansky OJSC divorced his wife, who had 187 million rubles in annual revenue in 2013. However, his own income, according to the latest data for 2015, had lost a little from this separation: 799 million rubles. Interestingly, in an interview in 2014 to Abireg, Bortsov continued to talk about his wife in the present tense: "Together with my wife there (the Progress OJSC, unit for production of baby food (the Frutonyanya brand) and drinking water (Lipetsk well-room) - note of the Crime Russia) own a 25% stake. We are not even a part of the Board of Directors. My wife refused to be there and I can not be there because I’m a Deputy of the State Duma." The official is the happy owner of LADA VAZ-213 100, the two cars of the brand Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the Patriot UAZ, as well as a Belarus-82.1 tractor.

Ирина Яровая

Irina Yarovaya

State Duma deputy from the Edinaya Rossiya Party

The Head of the Anti-Corruption Committee was the last one, who has experienced divorce in the current convocation of the State Duma. In the final declaration, which featured her ex-husband, in 2014 Yarovaya indicated a modest family income (5 million rubles of her own income to 7 million rubles of her businessman husband’s one). At the same time in 2013, she was suspected of violating the anti-corruption laws: the magazine The New Times found an apartment belonging to the Deputy in a luxury house Tverskaya Plaza in the value of $ 2.89 million to their daughter Catherine’s name, who at the time of purchase (in 2006) was 17 years old. The publication points out that Yarovaya forgot to mention about the apartment in at least four declarations of income and property. The Deputy avoided the accusations saying that her daughter turned 18 before 2008 when the officials were obliged to declare the property of minor children, even though she never explained on what means the purchase was made. Her party members then accused the first of Yarovaya’s former spouses, who ostensibly gave the luxury housing to her daughter. So, according to the law, the Deputy has nothing to do with it.

Андрей Макаров

Andrey Makarov

State Duma deputy from the Edinaya Rossiya Party

The Chairman of the State Duma Budget and Taxes Committee broke up with his wife Julia in 2014. Judging by the last joint declaration in 2013, the wife earned ten times more than Makarov: 99 million rubles to 9.5 million rubles. After the divorce, she got just a house in Spain and five plots of land, a house in Russia of 746 square meters, an apartment of 190.7 square meters and the Lexus car. The impoverished bureaucrat had to settle for the second Lexus car, an apartment of 53 square meters, a house and a land plot, all in a single copy.

In 2015, the international real estate also disappeared from the Deputy from the United Russia Alexander Remezkov, who after the divorce has lost a land of 1211 square meters in area and an apartment of 76 square meters in Austria, and his fellow party member Deputy Belan Hamchiev, whose ex-wife went got an apartment of 174 square meters in the UAE.

In general, judging by the declarations, more often, the main wealth of the family stays in the hands of the officials’ wives. For example, the Deputy of the State Duma from the Sparavedlivaya Rossiya Valery Gartung earned 18.3 million rubles last year, while his spouse’s income amounted to 244.1 million rubles. Apart from the general property of 11.1 thousand square meters, she owns a 190 square meters apartment in Switzerland of. The Deputy from the Communist Party Alexander Nekrasov was able to earn only 5 million rubles, while his wife Elena was managed to get 206.5 million rubles. The property of latter includes six apartments and 11 commercial facilities. In general, not only the State Duma members can brag about the golden spouses. For example, the wife of the Security Council Secretary Nikolay Patrushev earned 284.2 million rubles in the past year. The spouses of Vice-Premiers Arkady Dvorkovich and Sergei Prikhodko also declared good income: 141.1 and 132.6 million rubles respectively.

However, for some officials the easiest way to get around declaration of income and property of spouses required by the law is just to make known of the existence of such. Thus, according to Crime Russia, the Deputy Mikhail Slipenchuk did not "declare" his wife Anna, with whom he seems to spend holidays together, goes to family celebrations, has common children and, finally, the last name.

Of course, to the Russian officials nothing human is alien. Not every divorce is a sham and a cover to conceal the real income and assets. For instance, in Sergei Mironov’s declaration (the Spravedlivaya Rossiya), who broke up with his wife Irina in 2013, the couple income entry was never empty: in fact, in the same year he had already legalized relationship with a journalist Olga Radievskaya. The press secretary of the President Vladimir Putin, Dmitry Peskov, who parted with his wife Katerina in 2015, registered the marriage with the former figure skater Tatyana Navka, who earned 89 million rubles in the past year and owns 2 plots of land, a house and four apartments, one of which is in the United States. 

Владимир Путин

But, of course, the most famous divorce of the anticorruption time was of the presidential couple: in May 2013, the civil servants were prohibited to own foreign financial instruments, and in June at the State Kremlin Palace after watching the Esmeralda ballet, it was said that Vladimir and Lyudmila Putins do not live together for a long time.



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