Racing intelligence agencies. How former Head of Vimpelcom was fleeing from Russia
Mikhail Slobodin has been warned of the impending FSB raid which resulted in the arrests of the “energy men case” defendants. He managed to buy a plane ticket and fly to Nice.
On September 5 at around 9 o'clock in the morning, in the capital's Vnukovo airport, a passenger approached the business class check-in front desk for the flight SU 6639 Moscow-Nice. The middle-aged man with a bag was noticeably nervous: he was constantly looking at his watch and nervously adjusted his bag on his shoulder. This was the CEO of Vimpelcom Mikhail Slobodin. He checked in and passed the border controls without problems.
He got pretty nervous again when the departure got delayed for a little.
- What if the customs officers have already called and now the operatives will get on board and take me away to the investigator, Slobodin apparently thought at 9:40 am, when the plane has taxied to the runway field, but did not start taking off on time. However, the delay was short: at 9 o'clock 58 minutes Boeing 737 took off, and Slobodin was able to relax.
The trip to France was obviously unplanned for Slobodin. As it turned out, the evening of September 4, he frantically sorted through online flights to different countries and cities.
- At 23:20 he made his choice and paid for the tickets on the Aeroflot flight to Nice, told Life the source in the security services. - Apparently, someone had warned him that he was supposed to be detained within the investigation of the energymen case.
The investigators believe that it was Slobodin’s idea to pay kickbacks to officials of the Republic of Komi so that the company he controlled could charge excessive tariffs for utility services.
The intelligence agencies, having realized that neither in the VimpelCom office, nor at home can they find the energymen case person of interest Michael Slobodin, immediately traced the path of his escape from Moscow.
Just an hour before the beginning of the searches in the companies belonging to Renova, Slobodin flew from the capital to the French Nice.
- Someone had warned him of the impending raid. The intelligence agencies are already looking for the informant: neither the FSB, nor the ICR likes moles. I think the service check will reveal where did the leak come from, says the source of Life in the security agencies.
When the plane was in the air, the large-scale search and the arrests of all those involved in the energymen case took place in Moscow. The Investigative Committee with the support of the Komi FSB operatives searched the offices of the group of companies Renova and of the energy company under its control called T plus (formerly IES-Holding).
The CEO of T plus Boris Vainzikher and the managing director of the Renova group Evgeny Olkhovik were detained. The latter managed T plus in 2010-2012. It was Olkhovik who replaced Michael Slobodin, who was a member of the Board of Directors from 2007 to 2010. As it is already known, the investigators came for Slobodin as well, but he was already gone.
According to Life, now the investigators contacted Slobodin’s representatives and held negotiations with them on the terms of his return to Russia. The businessman does not seem to like to talk with investigators, but wants to know in advance what kind of procedural status and pre-trial restriction is expected in the framework of the criminal case. That is what bargaining is about.
Slobodin will hardly be able to get the special conditions for himself, even if he would cooperate with the investigation: the criminal case was opened under the serious article - bribery in a large scale committed by the group of people. It promises a sentence of up to 12 years in prison. The best option in such circumstances is get house arrest.
With regard to Vainzikher and Olkhovik, after a sleepless night in Moscow, they were convoyed to Syktyvkar, where there a major investigation is taking place. In the near future, the investigators will ask the local court to elect a pre-trial restriction for them. Most likely, they will be arrested.
The investigators believe that it was Slobodin who, back in 2007, came up with the idea to launch a profitable partnership scheme with the high-ranking officials of Komi. In short, the officials received kickbacks from Slobodin, Vainzikher and Olkhovik for ensuring that IES-Holding (T plus) controlled by them charged the consumers maximum tariffs for electricity and heat. This scheme made the businessmen incredibly rich. According to operative data, Slobodin in 2010 donated to the then governor of Komi Vyacheslav Gaiser nearly half of the shares of the OJSC Komi Energosbytovaya kompaniya (Komi Energy Retail Company) belonging to the IES-Holding. This portfolio was consequently estimated of nearly 100 million rubles.
The case materials state that Slobodin, while working for IES-Holding handed Gaiser nearly half a billion rubles. Olkhovik was the CEO of the company from 2010 to 2012. According to the investigators, during this time, more than 170 million rubles was spent on bribes to officials. But from 2012 to 2014, when the company was already run by Boris Vainzikher, the Republican officials received about 90 million rubles. At the same time, IES-Holding was reorganized into the T plus.
The energy men case began to turn in August 2016, after the Acting Governor of Komi Sergey Gaplikov complained to the President Vladimir Putin on the management of T plus. He reported on the critical situation with heat and energy supply of Vorkuta. All the problems he associated with state of emergency of the TPP-2 which belongs to the T plus. Gaplikov complained that T plus is not going to repair the power plant and tries to sell it. Doing so, they wanted to cover the hole of 5 billion rubles which formed because of debts of the main consumer – Teploviye seti Vorkuty (Thermal networks of Vorkuta).
The Investigation Department of the ICR in the Komi and the FSB got engaged in the case. They quickly solved the cooperation scheme of the republican officials and businessmen, after which the criminal proceedings were instituted. The main persons involved were the managers of IES-Holding. The operatives suggest that from 2007 to 2015, the businessmen gave to the governor Gaiser and his subordinates almost 900 million rubles.
The Vorkutinskiye TETS (Vorkuta TPP) LLC is 100% owned by PJSC T plus and is located in the operational management of its subsidiary called Komi. T plus, according to the data from SPARK-Interfax is controlled by the Renova group of companies, which is owned by billionaire Viktor Vekselberg. He is ranked the seventh richest businessmen of Russia, according to Forbes which estimated his wealth at $ 10.5 billion.
The Head of Komi Vyacheslav Gaizer was arrested on September 19, 2015 on charges of fraud and organized crime. A total of 19 people were involved in the case. In particular, Alexander Zarubin was arrested in absentia. He was the main advisor to the head of Komi Vladimir Torlopov until 2003, then, he started working for Renova and managed the company until 2009.