$34m embezzlement from Mostransbank linked to Fedotov’s RAS and Mikhalkov’s RUR

$34m embezzlement from Mostransbank linked to Fedotov’s RAS and Mikhalkov’s RUR
Sergey Fedotov and Nikita Mikhalkov

According to the investigators, RAS and RUR took part in the scheme for withdrawing depositors’ money from the bank, protecting the organizers from the Central Bank checks.⁠

The Department of Internal Affairs’ Investigations Directorate in the South-Eastern District of Moscow has initiated a criminal case related to the embezzlement of funds from Mostransbank’s depositors. As Kommersant reports, the damage from the actions of top managers is estimated at "more than 1 billion rubles ($17m)" in the case materials, however, according to the Deposit Insurance Agency’s audit, the amount can reach 1.84 billion rubles ($31.86m). According to the investigation, this money had been withdrawn starting on April 1, 2014 through Prommo,LLC, presumably, on the order of former chairman of Mostransbank board Sergey Zakharikov. It was him who signed the documents with Prommo.

The company opened two accounts in the bank, through which depositors' money was withdrawn as loans. In order to hide the leak, the investigators believe, the bank would register fictitious repayment of debt at the end of each month. For this purpose, the accounts of the bank’s major clients — the Russian Authors Society (RAS), headed by Sergey Fedotov, and the Russian Union of Right-holders (RUR), whose council is headed by Nikita Mikhalkov – were used. These organizations would transfer large amounts to the borrower's accounts for several days, and after the reporting to the Central Bank was complete, the money was returned to the accounts of their owners.

The investigation qualifies these actions as Embezzlement and Misappropriation of depositors' funds by a group of persons on an especially large scale (part 4, Article 160 of the Russian Criminal Code). There are no defendants in the case yet; it mentions ‘unidentified persons.’

The Deposit Insurance Agency (DIA) auditors had previously argued that the scheme involved the accounts of the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO); in addition to Prommo LLC, the depositors’ funds would be withdrawn through Upravlenie Tekhnicheskogo Opespecheniya LLC (Technical Support Department), Trastovye Systemy LLC (Trust Systems), Bitilink LLC, and Igrotronik LLC. The DIA estimated the total damage at 35.5 billion rubles ($614.8m).

Let us recall that a criminal case related to fraud with the organization’s real estate has been initiated against Director General of RAS Sergey Fedotov. Whereas Nikita Mikhalkov immediately tried to distance himself from the scandal, claiming that he and the RAS business are “pretty much unrelated.” The Russian Authors Society explained that RAS used to have a settlement account in the Mostransbank OJSC, while Prommo has never been RAS’s counterparty, and no settlements have been made with it.

Former chairman of the banks’ board Sergey Zakharikov was detained back in Autumn 2015 on suspicion of illegal banking activities under part 2 of Art. 172 of the Russian Criminal Code. He is charged with cashing out of 4 billion rubles ($69.2m). He is currently under house arrest.

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