Zakharchenko could earn more than 30 billion rubles
If we sum up the impression the Colonel Zakharchenko made on the people who knew him and who told about him to Novaya Gazeta, James Bond’s image comes in the mind: secretive, taciturn, efficient, with great analytical skill — he was able to cause problems for some people and skillfully solve them for others in a comprehensive manner – to make sure it does not happen again.
“He's the kind of person with whom you talk to for several hours today, and the next day you can hardly recognize him. True éminence grise,” that is how an old acquaintance describes Zakharchenko.
These evaluations could seem exaggerated, if it was not for different people, who knew the colonel close, repeating them word for word. The amount of money found during searches at Dmitry Zakharchenko did not surprise those who worked with the senior police officer. MIA colonel has been a valued member of the influential group which had monopolized Russian Railways construction contracts, as well as specialized in illegal banking services. Law enforcement agencies associated an embezzlement of tens of billions of rubles, attempted murder, and other crimes with this group’s activities. Novaya Gazeta has come into possession of a laptop with confidential data on the group’s financial transactions. This includes 250 million rubles as payments to offshore companies, which, according to Zakharchenko’s acquaintances, may be associated with it.
Dmitry Zakharchenko was detained a week ago, and since then his name has been on the front pages of newspapers. The MIA officer has set a record (in Russia, at least) on the amount of cash found during searches: investigators found the equivalent of 8 billion rubles in various currencies stored in his sister's apartment. Later, according to Rosbalt news agency, about 300 million euros more were found in the offshore accounts of the Colonel’s relatives. Thus, Zakharchenko’s wealth may be approximately 30 billion rubles, which is equivalent to the annual budget of Yekaterinburg with 1.5 million inhabitants.
According to FSB officers, who had participated in the operational activities, when asked where all that money came from, Zakharchenko told: “Bankers gave it to me for storage.”
Dmitry Zakharchenko’s name is indeed associated with the high-profile case of 26-billion-ruble embezzlement from Nota-Bank. The bank’s primary depositors were defense industry complex enterprises. Dmitry Zakharchenko used to head the department that supervised the field of defense industry complex at the General Administration for Economic Security and Combatting the Corruption for a while.
But after we spoke to a few of Zakharchenko’s friends, it became obvious the colonel’s range of activities was so broad that the origin of his wealth cannot be explained by only one bank.
Construction projects supervisor
“I met Dima (Zakharchenko) when he served at the Operational-Investigative Bureau No.5 supervising large construction projects. At that time, he started working with people who had monopolized the Russian Railways’ construction contracts. I know for a fact that he knew Andrey Krapivin,” Zakharchenko’s former colleague from the Operational-Investigative Bureau No.5 told.
Andrey Krapivin is former advisor to Vladimir Yakunin; his partners were related to many companies that won the construction tenders of Russian Railways worth hundreds of billions of rubles. Andrey Krapivin died a few years ago, but his son, Aleksey, got his share in some of the companies.
Banker German Gorbuntsov, who used to work with Krapivin Sr. and his partners, confirms the words of Novaya Gazeta’s source. “I met Zakharchenko through Dmitry Motorin, the employee at Incredbank, which I owned. Some are mistaken when they think that I maintained Zakharchenko’s membership. This is not true. He did get 150 thousand euro per month, but this funds were provided by people engaged in money laundering and embezzlement from Russian Railways.”
According to Gorbuntsov, the efficiency with which Zakharchenko would solve arising problems, was striking. In banker’s words, it enabled the MIA officer to become a full partner of the people receiving contracts from Russian Railways, instead of being an “ordinary man on the payroll”.
“As far as I know, he had the closest communication with Valery Markelov, responsible for interaction with law enforcement authorities. Therefore, I am 100% positive that the money found on Zakharchenko belongs to him. By my reckoning, tens of billions of rubles were embezzled every year through Russian Railways contracts. So the money found in the colonel’s possession quite match the scale,” Gorbuntsov believed.
As reported by Reuters, Andrey Krapivin, Valery Markelov, and the third partner, Boris Usherovich, stood behind a huge empire comprising of several dozen companies, some of which were directly controlled by them, while others - by nominee people. These companies won most of the construction tenders held by Russian Railways, and were serviced by banks previously owned by Gorbuntsov.
At some point, a conflict has occurred between the former partners; German Gorbuntsov, who had been blackmailed, was forced to go to London, where he became the target of an attempted murder in March 2012. The hit man had fired several shots at the banker outside his home, but the latter miraculously survived.
According to Gorbuntsov, Dmitry Zakharchenko had a hand in his conflict with ex-partners. “One day, Zakharchenko called me and said we had to meet right away. He had never been as persistent before, nor was he ever looking for an immediate appointment. When we met, he strongly advised me to leave the country, supposedly due to the fact there would be some problems related to a criminal case. I took his words seriously and left. Later I learned that all of my assets had been stolen in the time that I had been out of the country. After a while, I found out that Zakharchenko acted on the instructions of my former partners, who eventually got my assets,” Gorbuntsov tells.
After leaving Russia, German Gorbuntsov took away a database, which listed the financial transactions of all companies serviced by his banks, including those which received contracts from the Russian Railways. This database is available to Novaya Gazeta. We have checked its authenticity through many independent sources, including the decisions of arbitration courts, official bank account statements of companies, and criminal case materials.
According to the database, the majority of money, which had been transferred to the contractors from the Russian Railways, went to fictitious companies registered to straw persons, and then cashed out or withdrawn to offshore. These offshore accounts include the ones that may be associated with Dmitry Zakharchenko.
In particular, as Novaya Gazeta’s sources at the Federal Security Service suggest, the Colonel might be connected to Bachelor Group Inc, Panama (serviced by the Swiss branch of Dresdner Bank) and Ancillmar Ltd, Cyprus (bank account in the Cyprus branch of Trasta komercbanka). Both companies have been eliminated.
However, people who have worked with Zakharchenko told Novaya Gazeta that the Colonel supposedly provided the account details of the Cypriot company Ancillmar Ltd for transferring money to him in 2007–2008. There are documents on the transfer of 800 thousand dollars to this company at our disposal; sources involved in these transactions called this amount the MIA officer’s salary.
This figure seems nothing compared to the amounts found in banker Gorbuntsov’s “secret database.” 244 million dollars and almost 5 million euro, that is, over 250 million dollars were transferred from the accounts of the various companies from Incredbank to Trast Komercbank at different times. Nevertheless, we cannot claim that the MIA Colonel has received all the funds; money laundering system works in such a way that technical companies may be used for transit by several people. But if Dmitry Zakharchenko did provide this company’s bank details for the transfer of money to him, he probably could not count even on part of those hundreds of millions of dollars leaving Incredbank.
Not construction alone
“Want to find stories involving Zakharchenko? Then simply look at the departments, in which he worked, and at the subject of their supervision,” FSB officer, who participated in operational activities against the senior police officer, suggests.
Indeed, if we look at the episodes known to Novaya Gazeta, we obtain one hundred percent correlation: Zakharchenko served in the departments, which supervised construction projects, and worked with people, who had monopolized construction contracts of the Russian Railways; then the police officer became head of the department supervising defense industry; now his name is referred to in the context of embezzlements at Nota-Bank, where companies from defense-industrial sector stored their money.
Dmitry Zakharchenko’s last division of assignment was no exception. The Colonel headed the Department T of the General Administration for Economic Security and Combatting the Corruption, which dealt with economic crimes in the sphere of fuel and energy complex. As reported by the colonel’s acquaintances to Novaya Gazeta, after moving to a new position, Zakharchenko began actively working with oil companies and Gazprom suppliers. In particular, according to our sources, Dmitry Zakharchenko and former head of local subsidiary of Gazprom supposedly managed to turn several previously obscure companies into the main gas monopoly suppliers in his native region, Rostov on Don.
As Zakharchenko stated in an interview to kp.ru, he knows who is behind his case, and the charges against him have been trumped up to frame him and remove from the post.
Rosfinmonitoring (Federal Financial Monitoring Service) analyzed the data of the Panama Papers and the Paradise Papers and discovered thousands of offshore companies through which the Russians laundered billions of rubles. Materials on deputies and governors were handed over to law enforcers.
A spokesperson of the Prosecutor's office said that the ECHR had not studied all the materials of the criminal case, so they were offered not to overturn the verdict, but to send the case for a new review in court.