‘Pushkin paid for roads’. How Head of St. Petersburg’s Traffic Management Agency managed to escape from justice again
The criminal 8-year old story has ended with an ‘intermediate draw’. Details – in the material of the CrimeRussia.
Former Head of Administration of St. Petersburg’s Traffic Management Agency (TMA), former deputy of the Legislative Assembly and former head of Nevsky district Andrey Korchagin who in 2009 run away from the Russian justice, managed to avoid payment again. This time the St. Petersburg ex-official left Interpol high and dry, in hands of which he had got thanks to the Finnish police.
One escape, two escape
Andrey Korchagin is being searched since the end of 2009 when he, in anticipation of loud criminal trial, has safely left the Homeland. Criminal case over swindle in the state public institution TMA was initiated by the St. Petersburg Directorate of the Investigative Committee. According to the investigators, head of committee Andrey Korchagin and his deputy Alexander Lashch together with CEO of Brokk Severo-Zapad LLC Grigory Pushkin and unemployed lawyer Georgy Popov have developed and have realized a plan for embezzlement of budget funds, intending for payment of work on installation of an antiskid covering at stops of public transport and crosswalks. The TMA had to transfer 8,18 million rubles into accounts of Tekhintro-Kontakt LLC which was responsible for implementation of this project. According to case papers, accomplices have forged documents on change of bank details of Tekhintro-Kontakt, then Georgy Popov signed additional agreement to the existing contract. In this document the new settlement account in VEFK bank was specified. In July, 2009 Alexander Lashch made an order to transfer the money for the false account provided by the contract. Later these funds were transferred to one of Sberbank branches in Yekaterinburg and cashed out.
General Administration of TMA was created for improvement of a control system of St. Petersburg traffic
According to the investigators, defendants in the case tried to reuse this scheme of swindle. In August, 2009 Lashch and unidentified persons tried to steal similarly 26 million rubles, but the crime was not completed thanks to intervention of law enforcement agencies.
Only Alexander Lashch, Grigory Pushkin and Georgy Popov have got into hands of the investigation. Korchagin suddenly disappeared right after the searches, which were carried out in GA TMA of St. Petersburg – he did not come to work and switched-off his phone. Considering that this story with ‘disappearance’ of money, was, alas, not the first, his behavior is easily explainable. Thus, check of Control Audit Chamber has revealed that in 2008 the directorate managed to master only 400 thousand rubles out of one billion rubles allocated with the budget.
It should be noted that the transport sector of the Northern Capital is constantly in fever. The last ten years, ‘mad dances’ around financing, which is generously allocated by the city for repair, marking and maintenance of roads, are happening here. It is possible to tell with confidence that by number of scandals with officials GA TMA surely was ahead of all other committees and city departments. This criminal story has begun with certain ‘signals’ in law enforcement agencies − that heads GA TMA are, to put it mildly, dishonest.
And Pushkin will be responsible for a marking
Only two people were place on a dock in the St. Petersburg city court - Lashch and Pushkin. Case against lawyer Georgy Popov was allocated in separate production.
The beginning of hearings was scandalous. The hall of court sessions burst with journalists, but preliminary hearing on the case was closed, and representatives of the press were not allowed to go there. From the very beginning lawyers of Lashch and Pushkin fought for change of a measure of restraint for the clients, offering from 2 to 2.5 million rubles as pledge. However, judge Vadim Shidlovsky rejected the petition of lawyers and remanded defendants in custody.
Andrey Korchagin who was gone in 2009 was in April, 2017 found in Helsinki
During the investigation of the case, the investigation managed to receive indications on the runaway head of the GA TMA Andrey Korchagin. Alexander Lashch told court in detail that all his actions were only execution of instructions of Korchagin, and Grigory Pushkin reported that he knew of Korchagin from the third parties. Both of them found themselves guilty of swindle, denying, however, legalization of the means acquired in criminal way. Besides, both have indemnified loss to the state: Lashch voluntarily returned 4 million rubles, and Pushkin − 1.5 million. Considering all these facts, it was not absolutely clear why did prosecutor’s office needed an ‘indicative flogging’. However in the light of today this measure does not seem superfluous any more.
It should be noted that the word ‘kickback’ sounded in the hall of court sessions very often. According to the party of charge, Lashch and his boss Andrey Korchagin regularly demanded 12% of kickback from LLC Tekhintro-Kontakt, intimidating the last by lack of the signature on documents. The court however counted these data unproven in view of discrepancy of testimonies of witnesses.
Without having found any circumstance aggravating fault of defendants, the court sentenced first deputy director of GA TMA Alexander Lashch to 7 years and 6 months of conditional imprisonment. His partner and accomplice Grigory Pushkin received 6,5 years – also conditionally. Also the court released property of both convicts. One more person involved in this criminal case − Georgy Popov, having agreed to go to the transaction with the investigation, also got off light – the court gave him 6 years conditionally.
The outcome of these loud judicial proceedings was though unexpected, but after all quite satisfactory. In Alexander Lashch's testimonies for the investigation the main thing has sounded – he learned about the new (false) account of Tekhintro-Kontrakt LLC and the scheme of cashing in of the stolen money from his immediate superior Andrey Korchagin. Korchagin, being abroad, could not help himself and even commented on a sentence to the press, declaring that “Lashch and Pushkin were forced to stipulate him and themselves due to criminal case, court and other hard developed circumstances".
Trial has ended, but a story about plunder of 8 million rubles did not: money has not been found.
Operation in Helsinki
So, Korchagin's accomplices received the sentence, while he − several quiet years far from eyes of the Russian police. Idyll was interrupted not so long ago. On April 20 the Finnish intelligence agencies at the request of the Interpol detained the former head GA TMA in Helsinki. The police met him at a ladder of the plane, which has arrived to the capital of Finland. The first media reports were that Korchagin is arrested and the Russian side hastily processes documents to an extradition. And further something unexpected happened: as TASS reported, the Central criminal police of Finland released Korchagin. Thus, the fugitive spent only several days under arrest. The Finnish side noted that, having found out all circumstances, it did not find the bases to hold Korchagin and he was liberated in spite of the fact that his name appears in lists of the Interpol. Also Finnish police did not find bases for his extradition home.
The criminal police of Finland detained Korchagin. And soon released him
Thus, the former head of GA TMA escaped from under a nose of the Russian law enforcement authorities again. Sources of the CrimeRussia report that giving testimonies is not in his interests because Korchagin did not self-willedally plunder the mentioned money, but “shared with whom it is necessary”. And he is not going to hand over these people under any circumstances. While the St. Petersburg Investigative Committee is eager to hear treasured names. What will be the following step of our security officers – we will learn in the nearest future. And whether we learn names of mysterious interested parties − nobody will undertake to predict today.