Kemerovo Region: Purging of local government begins with Colonel Zakharchenko’s case 

Kemerovo Region: Purging of local government begins with Colonel Zakharchenko’s case
Dmitry Zakharchenko in court

The T Department of the General Administration for Economic Security and Combatting the Corruption of the Russian MIA has been investigating oligarch Aleksandr Shchyukin since 2015. Shchyukin was suspected of transferring money abroad. Dmitry Zakharchenko used to be its Head. However, nothing could be done about Shchyukin’s case despite abundance of evidence proving his guilt until Shchyukin was arrested.

An investigation of illegal seizure of the Razrez Inskoy Mine, the Kuznetsk Basin was directly related to Colonel Zakharchenko’s case, according to the Novaya Gazeta Newspaper. The investigation later led to major personnel replacement in the local government.

Zakharchenko’s case FSB investigators began investigating where 8.5 billion rubles worth of foreign exchange found in the Colonel’s sister’s apartment after his arrest came from, according to Novaya Gazeta. They instituted an inspection of all the ongoing investigations of the Division responsible for combating crime in the fuel-and-energy field.

The FSB investigators noted Shchyukin’s case during the inspection, according to Novaya Gazeta. Shchyukin is a coal magnate from the Kuznetsk Basin. He owns several mines, automobile dealerships, and other companies. He was featured on Russian Forbes’s lists twice, in 2005 and 2010.

Zakharchenko’s subordinates instituted an investigation against Shchyukin in November of 2015, as it turned out. They requested the Interpol for information about several Cyprus companies the General Administration had suspected of being a part of Shchyukin’s illegal activities aimed towards getting hundreds of millions of Euros out of Russia.

The General Administration employees got the information about Shchyukin’s illegal activities from a reliable source, namely the UK High Court, Novaya Gazeta pointed out. Shchyukin’s family filed a lawsuit against their assets manager, a UK citizen.

Shchyukin registered Upminister Trading Limited on the Isle of Man to manage his foreign assets. It moved to Gibraltar in 2005 after the Isle toughened its requirements for offshore companies.

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Aleksandr Shchyukin

Shchyukin’s only daughter Elenta Shchyukina and his son-in-law Ildar Uzbekov ran Upminister Trading Limited. They hired UK citizen Adrian Burford and his company Fern Advisors Limited to manage the family assets. However, Shchyukin’s family suspected him of stealing several billion Euros and filed a lawsuit against him to the High Court. They accused him of embezzling.

Adrian Burford retaliated by testifying against Shchyukin. He claimed, among other things, that Uzbekov was to provide at least 1 billion Euros to Burford’s company over the next 5 years; the company was to manage the money. He also told the Court where the money came from: they were “accumulated as a result of Shchyukin’s work in Siberia and his desire to get the money out of Russia”. Burford named several of Shchyukin’s Cyprus offshore companies. There are at least 150 billion Euros on their banks accounts; the money was transferred from Russia.

The Division employees examined the High Court’s records and discovered that, for example, «the Shakhta Polosukhinskaya paid Bryankee Holding Limited (Cyprus) 3.3 billion rubles in dividends to dodge taxes in 2011-2012». It is worth mentioning that Shchyukin was the Head of both Bryankee Holding Limited and Shakhta Polosukhinskaya, according to documents.

However, nothing could be done about Shchyukin’s case investigated by the Division for years despite existence of evidence of Shchyukin transferring large sums of money abroad, Novaya Gazena pointed out. The FSB investigators noted this and went to Kemerovo for answers.

The FSB Kemerovo Department presented its Moscow colleagues with a whole profile containing information on the coal magnate, according to the Novaya Gazeta. It contained documents proving Shchyukin purchased assets (or rather illegally seized) of Zenkovskoe Shakhtoupravlenie and Gramoteinskaya Mine in 2013. Owners of both companies were arrested for some violations and held in pre-trial detention facilities until they agreed to sell their assets to Shchyukin.

There was new information on the entrepreneur taking charge of Razrez Inskoy in the profile, too. There is evidence the Razrez Inskoy Head was replaced due to a criminal conspiracy implemented by a gang.

High-ranking officials of the local Administration and Office of Investigations of the Kemerovo Region Department of the Russian Investigative Committee were involved in the conspiracy, as turned out during the investigation. 

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Former Head of the Office of Investigations of the Kemerovo Region Department of the Russian Investigative Committee Sergey Kalinkin

The CrimeRussia has reported on what happened next on numerous occasions. 5th Department of the Committee employees flew to Kemerovo on November 13, 2016. They were accompanies by the FSB special forces. The Office of Investigations of the Kemerovo Region Department of the Committee, Kemerovo Region Administration, for-profit companies’ offices, apartment, and country cottages of suspects were searched.

The following people were arrested and sent to the City of Novosibirsk in the framework of the criminal case opened by the FSB: Vice Governors Aleksandr Danilchenko and Aleksey Ivanov, Head of the Office of Investigations of the Kemerovo Region Department of the Russian Investigative Committee Sergey Kalinkin, Deputy Head of a Department of the Office of Investigation of the Committee Sergey Kryukov, Senior Investigator Artemy Shevelev, Head of the Department for the Kemerovo Region Administrative Agencies Elena Troitskaya, entrepreneur Aleksandr Shchyukin, and his confidant Gennady Vernigor.

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Kemerovo Region Vice Governors Aleksandr Danilchenko and Aleksey Ivanov

All the arrestees are suspected of violating article 163, part 3 (Extortion) of the Russian Criminal Code. The gang of high-ranking public officials and law enforcement officers conspired to force Anton Tsigankov who held 51% of Razrez Inskoy shares to cede them to entrepreneur Shchyukin, according to the investigators.

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