Fortuneteller arrested for sortilege aimed at embezzling from Nota-Bank
After the court refused to place Nonna Mikhay on house arrest, her relatives in the audience promised to put a spell on the judge, prosecutor and investigator.
The case of Nota-Bank has gained an esoteric component to it. Apart from the bank's top managers, a new defendant has appeared in the case; it is a hereditary fortuneteller Nonna Mikhay, arrested by court back on October 1; on October 24 the court extended her arrest.
According to Slon Magazine, Nonna Mikhay is charged with Swindling under part 4 of Art. 159 of the Russian Criminal Code just like the rest of persons involved in the case.
The investigators believe that the fortuneteller used to help shareholders withdraw large sums of money. According to the case materials, Mikhay was aware of the bank management’s illegal activities and “provided advice based on sortilege and fortunetelling to the sister of the bank’s Financial Director Galina Marchukova, Larisa.”
One of the grounds for suspecting Mikhay was the interrogation report of Larisa Marchukova, who spoke about a long-term acquaintance with the fortuneteller and discussion of various issues, including those related to work, with the latter.
“A few years ago, friends advised me to see Nonna Mikhay in order to receive treatment; eventually, the communication evolved,” Larisa Marchukova told during interrogation.
According to investigators, Nonna Mikhay’s involvement in the crimes of Nota-Bank managers is confirmed by a recording of telephone conversation between her and Marchukova, dealing with withdrawal of 13 million rubles.
According to the transcript of the call read out in court, Marchukova requested Nonna Mikhay’s approval for an illegal transaction, explaining to her some of the technical details. The fortuneteller deemed the transaction safe, referring to vision of the future “in the book.”
Meanwhile, Nonna Mikhay’s lawyer Maksim Burdin strongly disagrees with the investigation. Protesting the investigators’ logic, he called the charges “absurd and comical.” Burdin fails to understand how an illiterate fortuneteller, who had completed four secondary school grades, could possibly give advice to experienced financiers.
Mikhay was illegally arrested on charges of divination, fortunetelling, and “other nonsense for the little educated” under the guise of complicity in a crime, Burdin believed.
According to the lawyer, if, due to its ignorance, a person chooses prayers, incantations, and divination as a means of committing a crime, it is not enough to charge it with a criminal offense. Moreover, Burdin noted the case is unique – he says it the first time in his practice that a person has been prosecuted for tips on divination.
The сourt did not find the lawyers’ arguments convincing and retained the preventive measure against Mikhay. The willingness of the fortuneteller’s family to bail cash or property deposit in the amount of 3 million rubles for her did not affect the judge either. Her relatives offered an apartment on Novy Arbat, which is estimated at half a million dollars, for changing the measure of restraint to house arrest.
When the court rejected the offer, relatives of Nonna Mikhay present in the courtroom promised to put a spell on the judge, prosecutor, and investigator.
Aleksandr Zakharov, a partner of Paragon Advice Group law firm, believed that by testifying against Mikhay, Marchukova might have tried to reduce the degree of her guilt in the view of investigation by indicating the impact of a third party in committing the crime. However, there is no evidence of the fortuneteller’s direct influence on Marchukova, the lawyer notes.
Let us recall that the former Chairman of the Nota Bank Board of Directors Dmitry Erokhin, his brother Vadim, also a member of the Board of Directors, the Chief Financial Officer of the bank Galina Marchukova, and her sister Larisa had been indicted on charges of embezzlement in Nota-Bank. All of them have been in jail since early July. According to preliminary estimates of the investigation, the amount of damage caused by the defendants to bank depositors may exceed 20 billion rubles.
In addition, according to wiretapping of Galina Marchukova’s telephone conversations, the investigation has information about the involvement of a defendant in another high-profile case, namely Dmitry Zakharchenko, the former Deputy Head of the General Administration for Economic Security and Combatting the Corruption at the MIA of Russia, who is charged under three articles of the Russian Criminal Code, in the withdrawal of money from Nota-Bank.
A law enforcement source says that Zakharchenko had warned his fellow countrywoman and old friend Marchukova about upcoming searches and detentions of bank top managers.
Futhermore, there is a widespread version that the 8.5 billion rubles in foreign currency found in the apartment of Dmitry Zakharchenko’s sister Irina Razgunova are part of the money stolen from Nota-Bank, which the bank's Chief Financial Officer Marchukova had given the Colonel for storage.
The prosecutors want the former Russian Federation Council member to go to prison for 14 years instead of 9 and pay a 500-million-ruble ($8.8 million) fine instead of 70 million rubles ($1.2 million).