Return of senior investigators corruption case to Investigative Committee may cause its collapse

Return of senior investigators corruption case to Investigative Committee may cause its collapse
Denis Nikandrov Photo: Kommersant

Law enforcement agencies are reluctant to investigate the scandalous case of the deputy chief of the Main Investigation Department of the Russian Investigative Committee in Moscow, Denis Nikandrov, and his accomplices. According to Kommersant, the Federal Security Service (FSB) does not know what to do with it, admitting to a lack of competence in malfeasance. A source of the CrimeRussia believes that if the case is returned to the Investigative Committee, this will cause its collapse. At the very least, the accomplices of the accused, who remain anonymous for now, will be able to avoid punishment.

By decision of the Prosecutor General's Office, the high-profile case against Denis Nikandrov and his possible accomplices, who stand accused of bribery, was transferred from the Russian Investigative Committee to the FSB investigation department. This entailed a number of procedural and ethical difficulties, the Kommersant newspaper reported.

On July 22, the attorneys of the main defendant, Denis Nikandrov, appealed the decision of the Deputy Prosecutor General Viktor Grin to transfer the case to the FSB. They filed a complaint to his immediate superior, the Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika.

Lawyers believe that the decision was illegal and unjustified. Guided by ethical considerations, Grin violated the provisions of para. 12 of art. 37 of the Russian Code of Criminal Procedure. This section allows the public prosecutor to withdraw a criminal case from any investigative body and transfer it to the Investigative Committe, but not the other way around.

Moreover, Nikandrov’s defense is confident that this decision does not take into account the high status of the accused, which involves the proceedings at the proper level.

The Deputy Chief of the Main Investigation Department in Moscow and a former investigator for particularly important cases under the head of the Investigative Committee is in the rank of a special subject, which means his case must be investigated in the central office of the Investigative Committee, Nikandrov’s lawyer stated.

In addition, the complaint contains the lawyers’ own version of the Grin’s motives for the decision. Nikandrov’s defense believes that this is Grin’s attempt to avenge the accused for the corruption case in the prosecutor's office of the Moscow Region in 2013, when, thanks to Nikandrov’s uncompromising position, almost all of the Moscow Region prosecutors were dismissed.

The FSB, which received the case, encountered problems of a different kind, as the source in FSB, familiar with the investigation process, told the newspaper. The case of bribery and malfeasance is simply not within the competence of the security agency, who are more accustomed to investigate acts of terrorism and espionage cases.

Taking into account all of these issues, the heads of all agencies involved in the investigation are currently mulling ways out of this situation, Kommersant summarized.

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Photo: Alexander Lamonov

Most likely the case will be sent back to the Russian Investigative Committee. However, not in the Main Investigation Department, from where it was transferred to the FSB. All the accused are well known senior officials there: Mikhail Maksimenko is the head of the main department for interdepartmental cooperation and internal affairs, and Alexander Lamonov is his Deputy. The leadership thinks that their influence may cause their colleagues and former subordinates to prevent the investigation of the case from being objective. Neither can the case be transferred to another region – it is simply not the best option, because it would delay the investigation process, which is already long enough.

Other options include Main Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee in the Moscow Region and the 1st Investigation Department of the Main Investigation Department for the Central Federal District. However, the source of Kommersant says that the most likely choice would be the Chief Military Investigation Department, since it is relatively independent from the management of the Investigative Committee. Besides, they have extensive experience in the investigation of high-profile economic and malfeasance cases involving senior officials.

The defense of the accused would also welcome this outcome, as one of its representatives told the newspaper.

Meanwhile, the CrimeRussia’s own source in law enforcement, who is familiar with the situation, stated that if the case is returned to the Investigative Committee, it will lead to its collapse. It can also allow other persons involved, who remain anonymous for now, to avoid taking responsibility.

The return of the case to the Investigative Committee is exactly what the defense is currently seeking for, the source said. This return will help not only their interests, but also the interests of the head of the committee Alexander Bastrykin. The corruption scheme in the institute has been closing in on him thanks to Bastrykin’s influential right hand, Mikhail Maksimenko.

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Photo: Mikhail Maksimenko

The head of the Investigative Committee, who did not know that his subordinates had been developed, would take the case under his personal control, if it returned back to his agency, the source of the CrimeRussia said.

Apart from the fact that the return of the case to the committee would mess with the investigation, the FSB would treat it as a serious failure. Therefore, the agency is likely going to fight to prevent this.

Moreover, FSB’s "lack of experience in investigating malfeasance" is a moot point. FSB investigators are advised on the procedural points by employees of the Prosecutor General’s Office, while the operational ones are fine as it is. The group that is investigating this corruption case is one of the most experienced; its members were involved in the investigation of the most scandalous crimes in recent years.

If the investigation is performed by FSB, it will help preserve the necessary level of secrecy, while the return to the Investigative Committee will nullify all the efforts of security officers, the source of the CrimeRussia said.

Last week, three senior members of the Russian Investigative Committee were detained on charges of corrupt connections with a kingpin Zakhar Kalashov (Shakro Molodoy).

The heads of divisions and departments of the central apparatus of the Investigative Committee - Lamonov, Maksimenko and Nikandrov – are charged with taking a bribe in the amount of 5 million ISD in exchange for helping Shakro Molodoy softening the sentence for his associates.

After FSB finished developing the suspects, the materials against them were transferred to the head of the Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin. After that he personally launched a criminal case and issued an arrest warrant.

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