Gone in 60 seconds: TOP-10 Russian fugitive corrupt officials
According to the latest data by Transparency International, Russia was ranked 119 out of 167 in the list of the most corrupt countries, being ahead even of such countries as Honduras, Pakistan and Azerbaijan. Of course, corruption is rampant at all levels of society, but the difference in the amounts, which a light-fingered policeman and a senior official receive, gives reason to believe that the latter causes the state a much greater harm.
And, interestingly, despite all that patriotism, which has recently been prevailing among the people in power, in case of danger it is in unfriendly Western countries they flee. The CrimeRussia decided report about the 10 most significant Russian corrupt officials, who escaped abroad.
Alexey Kuznetsov, the Minister of Finance of the Moscow Region *
* All positions are indicated as of the time of committing a crime
In mid-2008, Kuznetsov left the civil service voluntarily. A few days later, the Investigative Committee (then – at the Prosecutor's Office) initiated a criminal case against him on the fact of abuse of power. Kuznetsov himself claimed that no one has accused of anything. According to the investigators, Kuznetsov gave plots of fertile land for development to the RIGroup and got an expensive land for the construction of a private estate. It was reported that Kuznetsov illegally seized land worth $ 20 billion, and his actions put the Moscow Region on the brink of bankruptcy: the regional government and local companies’ debt has reached 82% of the whole regional budget revenues. However, the law enforcement officials did not have time to catch the official: Kuznetsov hurriedly left for the United States.
In 2009, a new criminal case under Swindling (Art. 159 of the Criminal Code) and Legalization of Funds (Art. 174 of the Criminal Code) was initiated against Kuznetsov. He was accused of organizing the theft through OJSC Moskovskaya oblasnaya investitsionnaya trastovaya kompaniya (Moscow Regional Investment Trust Company - MOITK) 3 billion rubles allocated by the Government of the Moscow Region to pay off housing and public utilities debts.
However, the criminal cases, and the fact that Kuznetsov was on the international wanted list did not prevent him to welcome the New Year 2010 in Courchevel, along with then President of the Russian Olympic Committee Leonid Tyagachev, Head of the Department of Presidential Affairs Vladimir Kozhin, Director of the FSO General Evgeny Murov and Head of the Edinaya Rossiya's CEC Andrey Vorobyov, of which Kommersant wrote.
Finally, in 2010, the Investigative Committee initiated another case of fraud against Kuznetsov, which also featured RIGroup and manipulation of stocks.
It is to be noted that for the first time Kuznetsov was involved in a corruption scandal back in 1996, when investors of Inkombank filed a claim, demanding the payment of dividends. The depositors’ lawyers found out that the bank's management was engaged in embezzlement of the bank’s funds and siphoning them to the offshore jurisdictions. In 1998, Kuznetsov left his office on time: the bank’s license was soon revoked and a year later it was declared bankrupt. The offshore case of Inkombank went cold.
After Boris Gromov was elected as the Moscow Region Governor in 2000, Kuznetsov joined the regional government. According to some sources, in 2003, Kuznetsov was granted a residence permit in the US, and then secretly became a citizen of this country, even though dual nationality for officials was not allowed. Kuznetsov himself denied this fact.
In 2011, the Moscow Basmanny Court arrested him in absentia.
In 2013, as the MIA website reported, Kuznetsov was arrested holding fake passports in France at the request of the Russian law enforcement bodies. The issue of whether to extradite him to Russia or not was address. However, no information about the further course of the case transpired.
Georgiy Bedzhamov, co-owner of Vneshprombank
In March 2016, he was placed on the international wanted list on charges of Swindling on a large scale (p. 4, Art. 159 of the Criminal Code). The criminal case was initiated after the a hole of more than 200 billion rubles had been discovered in the assets of Vneshprombank. In December 2015, after the arrest of another co-owner of the bank and Bedzhamov’s sister Larissa Marcus, he disappeared. Bedzhamov’s lawyers then insisted that there was no reason for the arrest in absentia or placing on the wanted list, claiming that he is not hiding from the investigation, but only undergoes treatment abroad. By the way, it is worth noting that the siblings’ craving for crimes was seemingly inherited: their father was an authority Avdysh (in some sources he appears under the name of Alexander) Bidzhamo (Alik Assyrian), killed in the 90's.
In January 2016, the Central Bank revoked Vneshprombank’s license. In March, the court declared the credit institution insolvent. According to the investigators, Marcus and Bedzhamov together with Vneshprombank Vice-President Ekaterina Glushakova, as well as another unidentified persons siphoned out the money through providing of unrecoverable loans to firms controlled by them. In addition, the investigation revealed that millions of dollars disappeared also from the accounts of important clients of the bank. With this money, the elite real estate in Monaco and Switzerland was purchased, as well as boats and planes.
Vneshprombank, which was among the top-40 Russian banks, savings of the Russian officials, Rosneft, Rosneftegas, Transneft, the Russian Olympic Committee, the Foreign Ministry, the Defense Ministry and the Russian Orthodox Church were kept: a total of not less than 30 billion rubles belonging VIP-clients.
In April 2016, Bedzhamov was arrested by Monaco authorities at the request of the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation, but the local court refused to extradite him to Russia. Later, with the help of his friend, Prince of Monaco Albert II, Bedzhamov could and did break free and escaped to London. It is known that he did not give an undertaking not leave in Monaco, but was under the so-called judicial contol.
Sergey Pugachev, the Senator, co-owner of Mezhprombank
In January 2011, the Moscow Chief Directorate of the Investigative Committee initiated a criminal case on the fact of premeditated bankruptcy of Mezhprombank. Prior to that, in late 2010, the Central Bank revoked its license, and the court declared it bankrupt. The case was initiated at the request of the Agency for Deposit Insurance, which was the bankruptcy trustee of the bank. The institution’s debts have exceeded $ 1.7 billion. In 2011, criminal proceedings were instituted under article Misconduct in Bankruptcy (Art. 195 of the Criminal Code) and Deliberate Bankruptcy (Art. 196 of the Criminal Code). Pugachev is suspected of illegal withdrawal of funds from Mezhprombank, later in December 2008, it had received loans from the Bank of Russia.
In 2011, Pugachev, using a diplomatic passport (he, among other things, was also a Senator), flew to Nice. In December 2013, he was placed on the international wanted list.
In the summer of 2014, the Agency for Deposit Insurance secured the arrest of Pugachev’s assets around the world as a provisional remedy in the case worth of 75 billion rubles.
In 2015, Pugachev filed a claim in the Arbitration Court of the Hague against Russia at $ 10 billion, claiming that the Russian authorities illegally expropriated his assets: shipyards, a coal mine, and others.
According to some media, in the 90s Pugachev was close to Boris Yeltsin and was one of the leaders of his election campaign team in 1996. Mezhprombank was managing the financial flows of the Office of Presidential Affairs, and the President and his family used the plastic cards issued by the bank.
Andrey Borodin, President and co-owner of the Bank of Moscow
The former President of Bank Moskvy (Bank of Moscow) Andrey Borodin, together with first Vice-President of the bank Dmitry Akulinin, is accused of stealing nearly 13 billion rubles by financing CJSC Premier Estate. Subsequently, this money was found on the accounts of the company controlled by the wife of the Moscow Mayor Luzhkov, Yelena Baturina. It is noteworthy that the investigators got interested in the financial activities of the bank immediately after the Luzhkov’s resignation. Since the end of 2010, the bank and its associated structures are being checked by various regulatory authorities and law enforcement agencies. On December 21, it transpired that the Main Investigation Department of the Moscow police charged Borodin and Akulinin in absentia under the article Abuse of Authority (p. 1, Art. 201 of the Criminal Code). In early 2011, the Investigative Committee at the Russian MIA petitioned for the dismissal of the bank’s managers from office. The document also said that Borodin and Akulinin were summoned for questioning in order to give notice of formal charges against them, but the Bank of Moscow replied that the two top managers are on a business trip abroad which ends on April 6. After that, information appeared in the media that Borodin, fearing arrest, had left Russia and was based in London. Akulinin also left Russia. On April 8, Borodin sold all stakes in the bank belonging to him and the adviser Lev Alaluev.
Soon, the court arrested Borodin in absentia and placed him on the international wanted list.
In February 2012, Borodin and the former Vice-President of OJSC Bank Moskvy Dmitry Akulinin were charged with stealing more than 6.7 billion rubles, which were transferred by the Bank of Moscow to the accounts of offshore companies controlled by them. Criminal cases were also initiated in Estonia and in the Bahamas.
In summer of 2012, the British newspapers reported that Borodin bought the most expensive mansion in Great Britain, which once belonged to the Prince of Wales, for 219 million US dollars. In February 2013, he was granted a political asylum in the UK. Borodin was considered to be very close to Yuri Luzhkov.
He immediately headed the Bank of Moscow established in 1995 by the decision of Luzhkov. The bank was called the purse of the Moscow Mayor's Office, as all financial transactions were conducted through it. Once in the Bank of Moscow in 2011 a hole in the amount of 366 billion rubles of problem loans was found, in the media the opinion was sounded that the bank could not reach such a state without the knowledge of former Mayor Yuri Luzhkov.
The Bilalovs Brothers, builders of the Olympic facilities
The brothers Ahmed and Magomed Bilalovs were well-known businessmen: Ahmed was the Chairman of the Board of Directors of OJSC Kurorty Severnogo Kavkaza (Resorts of the North Caucasus) and the Vice-President of the Olympic Committee, and Magomed was the owner of one of the largest developers of the Olympic facilities, JSC Krasnaya Polyana.
The brothers fell into disgrace after Ahmed Bilalov was publicly criticized by Russian President Vladimir Putin. It turned out that the commissioning of one of the construction projects have been delayed for two and a half years, and its cost has grown from 1 billion 200 million to 8 billion rubles. "Well done, good work" – was all that the President said, but the signal was received well. In just three months in respect to Ahmed, and soon of Magomed Bilalov, criminal proceedings were instituted.
It turned out that the brothers used the funds allocated for the construction of Olympic facilities for personal purposes. In particular, Ahmed Bilalov spent on his flights to France, England and other countries in the amount of about 80 million; during his stay in the United Arab Emirates, to move from the hotel to the airport a helicopter was used. In addition, the businessman’s vacation in London has cost the Olympics budget 2.5 million rubles. His brother Magomed also made peaceful use of the money: part of the funds was placed on the accounts of Natsionalny bank razvitiya biznesa (National Business Development Bank – NBRB) controlled by him, which then credited Bilalov’s companies.
Shortly after the initiation of criminal cases, brothers suddenly took sick and then went abroad "to improve their health." During the foreign "treatment", the businessmen have been actively selling their businesses in Russia and reimbursing the expenses incurred by the budget. In October this year, there was information about the termination of cases against the Bilalovs, but the MIA immediately denied this information, saying that their search continues.
Sergey Sapelnikov, the Deputy Head of the Russian State Register
Another high-ranking fugitive is Deputy Head of the Federal Service for State Registration, Cadastre and Cartography (Rosreestr) Sergey Sapelnikov.
In July 2013, the supervisory authorities – the Accounts Chamber and the Federal Security Service – audited the performance of the Federal Target Program for creation of electronic system for land and real estate items record.
The results of the audit were, to say the least, disappointing: violations were found in the amount of 23.9 billion rubles, including inappropriate expenditure of funds in the amount of 2.5 billion rubles. The most serious problems were identified in the areas of IT-infrastructure, IT-technologies, and cartography, for which Rosreestr Deputy Head Sergey Sapelnikov was responsible. As the auditors established, he repeatedly provided false information about spending of the subprogram’s funds. In addition, the audit found dozens of violations of state contracts: for example, Sapelnikov concluded a 1.3 billion rubles contract with the company ScanEx which did not have the necessary FSB license to work with documents of state secret.
Sapelnikov did not account for the catastrophic failure of the Federal Program and, in the same year, escaped abroad with his family. At that, the escape was in the best traditions of spy films: knowing about the presence of the ban on leaving the country, the official did not use the railway or airport, but on the vehicle left for Belarus and then moved to Ukraine, where his trail was lost. According to rumors, he is hiding in the United States.
Foreign travel for an official of such rank was banned in principle, as Sapelnikov had access to the 1st category state secret, so his escaped hit not only on the budget of the country, but also its national security. As of today, he is placed on the federal wanted list; for unknown reasons, he was not included in the international one.
Alexey Bazhenov, the Deputy Agriculture Minister
In 2013, the police detained former Deputy Minister of Agriculture Alexey Bazhanov. He was suspected of organizing the theft scheme of more than 1 billion rubles of budget funds from holding Rosagroleasing.
The money was allocated in 2008-2009 to Rosagroleasing for the development and support of agriculture in the Voronezh Region. Then, the company was headed by former Minister of Agriculture Elena Skrynnik, whose deputy was Bazhanov. With regard to the ex-official a criminal case was initiated suggesting possible commitment of a crime under part 4 of Art. 159 of the Criminal Code (Swindling on an especially large scale).
Earlier, in February 2012, the former Head of Rosagroleasing for the CFA and Head of the Department of Administrative Work and External Relations of the Ministry of Agriculture Oleg Donskikh urgently formalized a vacation and disappeared. Now, he is still in the red notice (red notice – is a mark for persons to be arrested immediately) of Interpol. In May of the same year, her post for some reason also left Minister of Agriculture Yelena Skrynnik. Interfax with reference to its sources reported that in the official's respect a criminal case can be initiated. However, this information was put down by Vladimir Putin's Press Secretary, Dmitry Peskov, who said that Skrynnik is not a person of interest in any case.
As for Bazhanov, the ex-official who was under house arrest at some point stopped responding to calls and investigators’ summons. By that time, one more case was initiated against him: on the fact of theft of funds from CB Rosselkhozbank and CB Svyaz-Bank. In March 2014, Bazhanov was placed on the international wanted list. Where the former Deputy Minister of Agriculture exactly hides is unknown.
Boris Avakyan, the former employee of Rosreestr
Former official of St. Petersburg Rosreestr Directorate Boris Avakyan was arrested by the Department K of the FSB Economic Security Service, during a meeting with a journalist at the end of July 2016 in Moscow. The next day he was taken to St. Petersburg, where Kronstadt Court sent him under house arrest.
According to the investigation, the former official is a member of a gang of smugglers, who imported clothes and electronics in Russia under the guise of cheap construction materials. Now, the damage caused by his activities is estimated to be worth over 800 million rubles. However, it can grow to 4 billion rubles.
On September 9, the FSB officers did not find Avakyan at home. It is noteworthy that in a few days, his wedding with a model Yulia Ionina was scheduled, but even there the ex-official did not appear.
But later he wrote a letter to the investigator's name, in which he argued that the case against him was framed up and the interested parties are former operative of the Main Directorate for Combating Smuggling of the Russian FCS Pavel Smolyarchuk and the former Chief of the 7th Division of the Department K SEB FSB, supervising customs, Vadim Uvarov. It is to be noted that at the end of last year, they themselves were detained on charges of corruption. Avakyan then was a witness and accused the former security officials of involvement in the illegal customs clearance.
It was suggested that Avakyan could flee to Armenia, where his mother lives. But, according to the latest data provided by the European border control, he is in Austria.
Alexey Mitrofanov, MP
In June 2014, the State Duma deprived the MP Mitrofanov of immunity and agreed to involve him as a defendant in the case of fraud on an especially large scale. The criminal case, in which the State Duma Deputy was a defendant, was initiated in 2012. According to the investigators, Mitrofanov acted as a guarantor of the bribe transfer. This is $ 200 thousand which Alexander Derevschikov and Rashid Sautiev wanted to get from businessman Vyacheslav Zharov for a favorable ruling of the Commercial Court of Appeal. The businessman had legal proceedings with the company Arctur-stroy due to the construction of luxury buildings on the Kastanaevskaya Street.
The parliamentarian himself denied all charges. Nevertheless, in June 2014, he considered it necessary to flee abroad under the guise of medical treatment. Then, Mitrofanov’s colleagues in the Duma voted for deprivation of his parliamentary immunity and released him from the office of the Committee on Information Policy, Information Technology and Communications Chairman. After that, the investigators got an opportunity to officially start an investigation against the MP.
On October 10, 2014, the Dorogomilovsky Court in Moscow arrested a part of Mitrofanov’s real estate property and his cars as compensation for IOUs in the amount of EUR 1.4 million.
In 2013, Derevschikov and Sautiev, as a part of the plea bargain, testified, after which they were convicted. Another suspect, a bailiff Ali Kodzoev, who allegedly was the addressee of the money, while under recognizance not to leave, had fled. However, he was detained in Moscow in May this year.
In June 2014, Anna Dergileva, the wife of Oleg Dergilev, the owner of the Samara shop chain Gorilka, who was killed in 2013, filed an application to the Investigation Committee with a request to check Mitrofanov’s possible involvement in the murder of her husband. After her husband died, she found 4 IOPs on behalf of Mitrofanov in amount EUR 1.5 million, and her husband had been killed a month before the debt expired. In addition, she filed a lawsuit against the Deputy in the Dorogomilovo District Court of Moscow, intending to enforce almost 68 million rubles from him.
On October 10, 2014, the Dorogomilovsky Court of Moscow arrested a part of Mitrofanov’s real estate property and cars as the recovery of debt.
Alexey Beltyukov, the Senior Vice-President of Skolkovo
In April 2013, Beltyukov was accused of Embezzlement on an especially large scale (part 4, Art. 160 of the Criminal Code). According to the investigators, during the period from February 2011 to February 2012, Beltyukov illegally handed the State Duma Deputy Ilya Ponomarev $ 750 thousand from the Skolkovo Foundation funds. According to the agreement, for this amount, Ponomarev had to deliver ten lectures in a number of Russian cities and carry out research work. Later, in 2015, a case was initiated in respect of the Deputy himself, who was accused of complicity in the Embezzlement (part 5, Art. 33 and part 4, Art. 160 of the Criminal Code).
It is to be noted that the information about the commission of the given crime was obtained by the investigators during the other procedural audit, which was conducted by the ICR Main Investigative Directorate, on Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s request. He accused Ponomarev of slander and illegal entrepreneurial activity.
According to the Investigative Committee, Beltyukov, under the pretense of a scientific research, prepared two reports which held absolutely no scientific value and did not meet the technical specification requirements, and attached them to the documents on the embezzlement of funds. At the same time, according to the ICR, Ponomarev actually provided the Fund with the documents saying he delivered the lectures. But when the investigation started checking what in fact these lectures, each of which were estimated at an average of $ 30 thousand, were, it was found that they were short blitz performances from 3 to 18 minutes at events unrelated with the stated topic. At the same time, in the reports they were presented as full lectures.
In 2013, Beltyukov went to the US and is not going to come back. In 2014, Ponomarev did the same. At the same time, the Deputy denied all charges, saying that the case against him was politically motivated. It is to be noted that Ponomarev has repeatedly criticized the government and, in particular, was the only one of the Deputies of the State Duma, who voted against annexing the Crimea to Russia.
Both defendants were arrested in absentia and are placed on the international wanted list.
The Prosecutor's Office prescribed a check in Tyumen's correction colony (IK)-2 in connection with the suicide of a 20-year-old prisoner, who, according to human rights activists, was driven crazy by enforcers.