British man detained in Moscow for delayed construction in Minsk
The police have resolved the conflict of foreign investors.
As it became known to Kommersant, the Moscow City Court refused to comply with the prosecutor's request to transfer 68-year-old citizen of Great Britain Vincent Petrillo from house arrest to a pre-trial detention center. The investigators of the Moscow police accuse the Englishman of Italian origin, who has been doing business in Russia and Belarus for a long time, of embezzling a large sum from his partner, a businessman from Switzerland, during the construction of a high-rise complex in Minsk. The Brit himself categorically denies his guilt, claiming that his conflict with the companion belongs to the sphere of civil relations.
According to Kommersant’s sources, a criminal case over Swindling on an especially large scale (part 4 of Art. 159 of the Russian Criminal Code) against the British businessman Vincent Petrillo has been initiated by the investigative unit of the Directorate of Internal Affairs in the Central District of Moscow. The grounds for it had been a complaint by Mr. Petrillo’s former partner, a large entrepreneur and an investor from Switzerland Gerhard Ammon, who personally visited the Russian capital to complain to law enforcement authorities. According to the claimant, the Englishman stole more than $300 thousand from him.
Vincent Petrillo had been detained by police officers, after which the investigators filed a petition with the Tagansky District Court on his placement in the pre-trial detention center. The man himself and his defense insisted on his complete innocence. It is noteworthy that, according to lawyers, the British Embassy has been notified of the detention of her Majesty's subject, but no diplomats attended the remand hearing. After studying all the investigation materials, Judge Albina Timakova refused to send the elderly Briton (who suffered a number of diseases) to prison, limiting the preventive measure to house arrest. Petrillo is a native of the Italian city of Prato in the Tuscany region, but is officially registered in Rochdale, Greater Manchester. Meanwhile, the detainee has a temporary registration in an apartment on Botanichesky Lane in Moscow. It is in this premise, located next to the Botanical Garden of Moscow State University, that the English businessman shall serve his arrest with an electronic bracelet on his leg until September 11. The Prosecutor's Office has appealed against the ruling of the Tagansky Court, demanding the imprisonment of the British man, but the Moscow City Court upheld it the other day.
Petrillo’s lawyer Sergey Ganin told Kommersant that his client insists on the absurdity of the charges and asserts that he has conducted regular financial and economic activities, and all of his disagreements with Gerhard Ammon are within the civil-law relations.
To note, Vincent Petrillo has long run a business in the countries of the post-Soviet space. In 2010, he and Gerhard Ammon participated in an ambitious project in Belarus. It concerned the construction of a 25-story high-rise (above 100 meters) Futuris Business Center at the intersection of Minsk Ring Road and Independence Avenue in the capital of Belarus. It was planned that the Swiss will invest up to $70 million in the project, which implied the construction of more than 45 thousand meters of office and retail space to accommodate up to 1300 people. Vincent Petrillo was responsible for the project’s technical part and investment raising. In late 2010, he and Gerhard Ammon participated in the solemn laying of a capsule into the foundation of the future center in the presence of high-ranking Belarusian officials. However, already a year later, the partners had a disagreement. According to some sources, Mr. Ammon was dissatisfied with how the funds allocated by him were spent, so he cut off funding, which led to the freezing of construction. Moreover, he demanded that Vincent Petrillo return him part of the money, accusing his partner of unreasonable enrichment. The British disagreed with the allegations, stating that it was an attempt to undertake his business. After this, litigations began between them, including in the Moscow courts. In fact, the Russian justice sided with Petrillo, refusing to satisfy his partner’s claim.
It is noteworthy that scandals had haunted Futuris even before the conflict between the partners. According to the original plans, the business center was to be called Gold City, and Vincent Petrillo was supposed to engage five Belarusian businessmen and officials in its construction. However, soon after that, he accused them of trying to steal €3 million from him. The partners were arrested, and in 2010, they were sentenced to terms from six to nine years.
In addition, in 2013, Vincent Petrillo became a leading figure of a scandal in Moscow; the FSB detained an Interior Ministry officer, who had illegally provided the businessman with guards from among special forces in exchange for large amounts of cash.
The Federal Penitentiary Service (FPS) of Russia has been rocked by new scandals. Several regional FPS bosses and Nikolai Barinov, a former deputy head of the agency, have been detained for bribe-taking. What could be the consequences of these high-profile arrests for the penitentiary service as a whole and for its Director Gennady Kornienko?