Russian mafia abroad: legacy
As a result of the legal proceedings against the ‘Russian mafia’, the Spanish treasury has recently received dozens of millions of euros. Assets seized from leaders of Russian organized criminal groups are sold to pay fines for tax evasion and money laundering – while the primary suspects in such criminal cases normally manage to abscond from the Spanish justice. The CrimeRussia has performed an inquiry into the fate of possessions confiscated from so-called ‘Russian mafia’ in Spain.
The CrimeRussia had repeatedly covered criminal cases against the leaders of ‘Tambovsko-Malyshevskaya’ organized criminal group – Aleksander Malyshev and Gennady Petrov – and leader of ‘Taganskaya’ gang Aleksander Romanov. However, very little was known about assets seized from these people and likely lost for them forever. Below are results of our inquiry.
Four-star Hotel Mar Y Pins in Peguera was one of the most famous in the southwestern part of Majorca. Aleksander Romanov had purchased it and an adjacent chalet in 2010. The transaction value was estimated at €6 million. During the reconstruction, it was found that a part of the building is located too close to the water. The local authorities have requested to rectify the defect, and Romanov had to demolish a section of the hotel. By 2013, the number of suites in Hotel Mar Y Pins has decreased by 30 and amounted to 150 units, while its appraisal value increased to €10 million. Romanov intended to continue real estate acquisitions in Spain.
In December 2013, Special Operation Dirieba was launched in Spain; it resulted in the arrest of 10 people, including Aleksander Romanov and his wife Natalia Vinogradova who was believed to be a full member of ‘Taganskaya’ gang. The local authorities suspected that Romanov had purchased the hotel for money laundering purposes. Ultimately, all the detainees, including a Spanish lawyer and tax advisor, have been released except for Romanov and Vinogradova. A search was performed in the home of Romanov and evidence of his complicity in high-profile raiding takeovers in Russia, including the seizure of Moskva supermarket, has been found. In addition, a large collection of expensive paintings and plenty of cash in dollars, euros, and rubles have been discovered in his residence. The investigation suspected that the money he had tried to ‘launder’ in Spain were illegally received from Russia.
In the course of the investigation, a conservatory attachment had been imposed on the possessions of Romanov. He was charged with laundering some €14 million, participation in an organized criminal group, and financial crimes committed against his personnel.
Hotel Mar Y Pins in Peguera
In May 2016, the Palma de Majorca Court has sentenced Romanov to three years and nine months behind bars. The state prosecution had asked to convict Vinogradova to 16 years in jail – but the court has finally replaced 22 months in prison with a fine. Other defendants have admitted their guilt and must pay fines totaling €7680. The sale of Hotel Mar Y Pins has brought €12.6 million to the Spanish treasury. The former director of Moscow Distillery Cristall has retained, however, the nearby home; therefore, after the release, Romanov may continue sunbathing on the Spanish coast – provided that he is not deported upon the sentence expiration.
According to the Spanish law enforcement authorities, Gennady Petrov, one of the leaders of ‘Tambovsko-Malyshevskaya’ organized criminal group, had also laundered money through real estate deals. He used to live in a luxury mansion built on a cliff near the shoreline in Sol de Mallorca. The living space of his former residence is 500 square meters; it includes a gym, Jacuzzi, sauna, and swimming pool. For a long period of time, this luxury was idling, and the Spanish authorities were concerned that the building may deteriorate without proper maintenance. Although Gennady Petrov had fled Spain and relocated to St. Petersburg long time ago, it was impossible to seize the property for the benefit of the state because the court hasn’t delivered yet a guilty verdict to the mansion owner in the money laundering case.
Spanish law enforcement officers in the Petrov’s mansion
Notwithstanding, in 2014, the judicial authorities and Prosecutor’s Office have ruled to transfer the home to a charitable fund to establish a center for disabled people there. However, later the fund declined to accept the building because it could not afford the maintenance of such a large and expensive property. Therefore, it was recently decided to sell the mansion prior to the completion of the trial.
After the launch of Operation Troika targeting the ‘Russian mafia’ in 2008, the local press reported, that the law enforcement authorities had frozen over 500 bank accounts storing at least €12 million. In addition to luxury mansions, the ‘Russian mafia’ also had in possession expensive cars, yachts, and pieces of art. The Spanish authorities do not disclose the fate of all these assets.
The only known real property belonging to Aleksander Malyshev is a mansion in Frigiliana located, by the way, not on the seashore. However, its characteristics and further fate are unknown.
‘Tskneti Palace’ of Shakro Molodoy
The Georgian authorities are waging a war against thieves in law and also seize ill-gotten assets for the benefit of the state. Furthermore, they do this in a pretty spectacular way. For instance, the law enforcement structures have confiscated the mansion of Zakhar ‘Shakro Molodoy’ Kalashov in a Tbilisi suburb and demonstratively deployed a police station in it. By the way, Shakro Molodoy’ is familiar very well with the Spanish law enforcement authorities – he has spent almost nine years in a Spanish jail prior to returning to Russia. Mikhail Saakashvili, then-President of Georgia, had initiated a bill imposing criminal liability for admitting the affiliation with the ‘thieves world’. Interestingly, a home belonging to David Saakashvili, brother of the ex-President, is also located in Tskneti, not far from the home of Shakro Molodoy. According to sources, there are plenty of such residences in this Tbilisi suburb.
For its huge size, the mansion of Kalashov has been nicknamed ‘Tskneti Palace’ by local residents. The four-storey building has 74 rooms. It is equipped with an elevator, underpass, and helicopter pad. The construction of the building had started in 1996. According to the available information, the total construction cost was $30 million and the mansion had officially belonged to other persons. But this could not save it from the confiscation. Recently the property has been transferred to the statistics department. Zakhar Kalashov had other major assets in Georgia as well, but no official information is available about those.
According to the Spanish laws, movable and immovable assets of persons charged with money laundering are seized in the beginning of the investigation. Should the court deliver a guilty verdict, these assets are sold by auction to pay fines imposed on the convicted criminals. The Spanish Ministry of Justice has noted that funds seized from the ‘Russian mafia’ are mostly spent on social needs of Spanish citizens.
The court believes that Anzhela Maria Tsapok could have made the money to buy the house and the expensive car by legal means, since she owned a firm. The court still refused to lift the attachment from her 6 million dollars.