Zakharchenko and Senin extort $5 million from La Maree, but have to settle for less

Zakharchenko and Senin extort $5 million from La Maree, but have to settle for less
Dmitry Zakharchenko

The restaurateur was unable to pay the amount the extortionists wanted, so the MIA colonel and FSB colonel had to agree to $800.000 instead.

Colonel of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Dmitry Zakharchenko and Colonel of the Federal Security Service Dmitry Senin extorted a bribe of $5 million from Mehdi Douss, the owner of the La Maree restaurant chain, announced the prosecutor Milana Digaeva during the hearing in the Moscow Presnensky court.

To get the money, the law enforcers arranged tax checks of Douss’s company and scrutinized seafood the entrepreneur imported to Russia.

"Senin negotiated persistently... Initially, they wanted a bribe of $5 million... But then Laushkin called back and said that Douss could not pay $5 million", RIA Novosti quoted the public prosecutor as saying.

Police general Alexei Laushkin conducted the negotiations between Douss and the colonels. The law enforcers managed to get a bribe of 800.000 dollars from the restaurateur. This was the amount Laushkin got from the businessman, and handed to Senin, who shared the bribe with Zakharchenko, according to the investigators.

Zakharchenko has been in custody since September 2016. He is charged with two counts of bribery (Art. 290 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) and obstruction of justice (Art. 294). The colonel and his accomplice got the second bribe in the form of "services of a property nature". They were given a 50% discount card for Mehdi Douss’s restaurant chain. The card helped the law enforcers save over 3 million rubles; the average dinner at the restaurant cost them 80.000 rubles ($1.170) without the discount.

The third count is about obstructing the investigation. Zakharchenko warned his acquaintance, the Nota Bank financial director, about an upcoming search in a fraud probe.

Zakharchenko's accomplice, FSB colonel Dmitry Senin, is on the run; his case has been severed from other charges. He is accused in absentia of mediation in bribery and unauthorized leave of the duty station.

General Laushkin is on trial as a witness. He and Mehdi Douss are under state protection.

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