Embezzlement of $4.4 million from Rosimushestvo to be hushed-up?
Evgeny Bogorad, the main suspect in a criminal case related to embezzlements in the Federal Computer Center for Stock and Goods Information Technologies (FT-Center) Federal State Unitary Enterprise, has voluntarily turned himself in to the police in Novosibirsk. Employees of the Siberian Branch of FT-Center had embezzled 250 million rubles ($4.4 million) from the federal budget in three years through financial machinations. However, the court has sentenced five defendants to conditional terms and acquitted two others. Bogorad is also very lucky: the fugitive who had been hiding from the investigation for 8 years, has been released on pledge not to leave the city.
Evgeny Bogorad, the main suspect in a high-profile criminal case related to multimillion embezzlements in the Federal Computer Center for Stock and Goods Information Technologies (FT-Center) Federal State Unitary Enterprise – a state company managing federal real estate in the Siberian Federal District – has voluntarily turned himself in to the police in Novosibirsk. According to a CrimeRussia source in law enforcement, in the last years, the former Director of the Siberian Branch of FT-Center had been living in Miami and then relocated to Israel. He managed to acquire both American and Israeli citizenship. Upon becoming an Israelite, he has changed name to Elsamekha Rami.
In 2009, an international warrant has been issued against Bogorad. In the beginning on February 2017, he came to the Administration for Novosibirsk of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation accompanied by lawyer Maksim Zubachev, admitted his guilt, and has been released on pledge not to leave the city. Prior to the surrender, the former top manager of the state company has made a deal with the authorities to secure his liberty. Still, the Prosecutor’s Office has addressed the court requesting to change the pretrial restriction to the release on bail. But the judge has denied the request and left Bogorad at large under the written pledge not to leave the city – this decision looks pretty weird, taking that the ex-Director of the Siberian Branch of FT-Center had been hiding from the investigation for 8 years. Bogorad has already started studying the case materials.
In 2009, following an audit in the Siberian Branch of FT-Center Federal State Unitary Enterprise, the law enforcement authorities have initiated a criminal case due to large-scale larcenies in the state company managing over 300 federal real properties in the Novosibirsk, Omsk, Tomsk, and Kemerovo regions and in the Altai krai. The Siberian Branch, similarly with other 9 branches of FT-Center, is directly subordinate to the Federal Agency for State Property Management (Rosimushestvo) – who had initiated the audit due to the huge credit indebtedness of the Siberian Branch amounting to hundreds of millions of rubles, while other branches haven’t accrued such enormous debts. In July 2009, results of the audit performed by the commission of Rosimushestvo had been submitted to the Prosecutor’s Office, which has immediately started a pre-investigation check. Bogorad, who was in Moscow at that time, has hastily fled the county. The law enforcement authorities were unable to extradite Bogorad from Israel, therefore, his case has been separated from other defendants, and the court issued an arrest warrant against him.
The investigation of multimillion embezzlements in the Siberian Branch of FT-Center had lasted for more than three years and was under control of a Deputy Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation. According to the investigation, the embezzlement scheme was very simple: the federal state unitary enterprise had been signing fictitious contracts with organizations controlled by the branch management, whose founders included FT-Center employees, to provide legal services or perform construction works. Some contractors existed only on paper. For example, contracts to maintain engineering networks and clean facilities subordinate to the federal state unitary enterprise had been signed with some Transit company whose staff included only the director and accountant. Still, every year they had been receiving for their services some 500 thousand rubles from the budget. It is necessary to note that the complex of facilities, allegedly serviced by them, was rented out.
FT-Center is a sate multi-business company subordinate to the Federal Agency for State Property Management (Rosimushestvo). The enterprise operates in the Krasnodar krai and Central, Volga, Siberian, and Far Eastern Federal Districts. Currently, its operations are mostly focused on the management and maintenance of state asset complexes and delivery of IT services (communication, hosting, and provision of engineering communications).
Most contracts had been signed with four ‘trusted’ security companies and were related to the protection of real properties. Viktor Vashnev, who was the head of all these companies, has become a defendant in this criminal case. Actually, the duties of the Siberian Branch of FT-Center include the protection of state properties – but in fact, only one facility was really guarded. Some properties – protected on paper – never existed in reality. According to the documents, in November 2008, a building in Novosibirsk had been taken under protection – but this building was destroyed by fire in August 2008. Huge amounts of money had been transferred to the private security companies from the state budget: the Siberian Branch of FT-Center has paid 115 million rubles for protection services and was owing 130 million rubles more.
In addition, the Siberian Branch of FT-Center had been signing outsourcing contracts; the cost of such contracts was times higher than average market prices on the allegedly rendered services. One of the duties of the branch was to involve state assets into the economic turnover: they had to identify such assets and take those onto the books. The staff of the branch had indeed performed this task – but concurrently, fictitious contracts had been signed with outside organizations to perform the same works, and huge amounts of money were paid to them. In the period of 2006–2009, over 117 million rubles had been paid under outsourcing contracts only. The interference of law enforcement authorities has allowed to prevent the embezzlement of extra 123 million rubles – documents required to transfer the money to fake contractors had already been prepared.
Upon signing fake certificates of completion for artificially overpriced works, the stolen budget funds had been transferred to several organizations and then cashed. The four defendants managed to legalize over 88 million rubles by paying out a loan.
In total, the criminal group has caused damages to the budget in the amount over 258 million rubles. The suspects have been charged under part 4 of Article 159 (Swindling committed by an organized group or on an especially large scale), Article 210 (Creation of a Criminal Community (criminal organization) and Participation Therein), and part 3 of Article 174.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Legalization (Laundering) of Monetary Funds or other property acquired by a person as a result of an offence committed by an organized group of persons).
Evgeny Bogorad is believed to be the mastermind behind the swindling scheme. He has got a job in FT-Center Federal State Unitary Enterprise in November 2006 – i.e. a year prior to the audit – using a fake diploma of the Siberian State Transport University. Earlier he was involved into the banking business, construction, and trade; was a shareholder in Transaero Airlines and owned a private security company. Right before his appointment the Director of Siberian Branch of FT-Center Federal State Unitary Enterprise, Bogorad was the General Director of Novosibirskgeologia Open Joint Stock Company. The businessman was known in Novosibirsk for his friendship with Viktor Tolokonsky, then-Presidential Envoy in the Siberian Federal District and currently the Governor of the Krasnoyarsk Krai.
Upon becoming the Director of the Siberian Branch of FT-Center, Bogorad appointed his relatives and close friends to key positions in the organization. It is necessary to note that the Moscow supervisors were pleased with his performance, and in September 2008, he has been promoted to Deputy General Director of the Moscow Federal State Unitary Enterprise. Evgeny Goncharov has replaced Bogorad as the Director of the Siberian Branch of FT-Center and continued working according to the scheme established by his predecessor; ultimately, he has also ended up in the dock.
Evgeny Goncharov, ex-Director of the Siberian Branch of FT-Center
In total, there were 10 defendants in this criminal case. Three of them – Evgeny Bogorad, his deputy for economic matters Tatiana Medvedeva, and employee Igor Fomenko – managed to abscond. All of them had been put on the international wanted list; later the Interpol joined the search for them.
In December 2012, the huge criminal case consisting of 198 volumes was submitted to the Novosibirsk Regional Court. It had been examined for more than two years. In 2014, a sentence has been passed upon seven defendants – in total, the Prosecutor’s Office had requested over 100 years behind bars for them: prison terms starting from 15.5 years in a maximum security penal colony for each defendant and fines in the amount from 1 to 2 million rubles. The prosecution had also requested to compensate damages sustained by FT-Center.
None of the defendants had admitted his/her guilt, except for Viktor Vashnev, head of the security companies retained by the federal state unitary enterprise. But the sentence was surprisingly lenient. Two defendants, Nina Timoshenko and Olga Gordeeva, were fully acquitted. The court has recognized their right to rehabilitation and compensation of moral damages for unreasoned prosecution. Charges against two other defendants pertaining to participation in a criminal community and money laundering have been dropped. The remaining five suspects, including Olga Ustinova, a sister of Evgeny Bogorad and former Head of the Department for Involvement of State Assets into the Economic Turnover of the Siberian Branch of FT-Center, have been sentenced for swindling to conditional terms from tree to six years. Vyacheslav Ustinov, a nephew of Bogorad, has also got a conditional term. Olga and Vyacheslav Ustinov were released from the court room. By the way, similarly with their relative Evgeny Bogorad, the mother and son had tried to flee from justice, but operatives found them in the basement of a cottage located outside Novosibirsk.
All the convicted criminals have been sentenced to token fines in the amount from 50 to 100 thousand rubles – incomparable with the damages caused by them. In March 2016, the sentence has come into effect, and the Prosecutor’s Office of the Novosibirsk Region has filed a civil lawsuit against the convicts to recover damages to the budget in the amount of 229.1 million rubles. No judgment has been delivered yet in this legal action.
Tatiana Medvedeva and Igor Fomenko have voluntarily turned themselves in to the police in the end of 2016. The defendants were not arrested and submitted a petition to examine their case using the simplified procedure. Currently their case is being handled by the Tsentralny District Court of Novosibirsk.
Apparently, after seeing his accomplices staying at large, Evgeny Bogorad, the main suspect in this criminal case, has decided to follow their steps and turn himself in.
It is quite possible that, like other accomplices, he gets a conditional sentence. His patrons in Rosimushestvo might get him off the hook – after all, they had helped him to become the Director of the Siberian Branch of FT-Center, despite the absence of diploma and presence of US residence permit. It can’t be ruled out that the ‘supreme patrons’ in Rosimushestvo are behind the surprisingly lenient sentences in this criminal case – should the defendants face lengthy prison terms and real fines, they could name those who had covered their criminal operations.
The investigators could not understand why did Bogorad decide to turn himself in. According to the CrimeRussia source, the ex-Director of the Siberian Branch of FT-Center had smuggled abroad $9 million. This amount is sufficient for comfortable living in any country. It turned out that Bogorad wanted to travel and visit other countries – but outside Israel he would be immediately arrested by the Interpol. Therefore, he decided to return to Russia to get rid of the ‘wanted’ status. A conditional sentence secured by ‘supreme patrons’ is a bearable price for the possibility to travel around the world and spend the ‘earned’ money without any issues.
According to the investigation, having taken a five-billion loan ($88.7m) from Sberbank in 2008, the owner of Pavlovskgranit deliberately split up the assets of the company so that creditors could not bring a charge against him to court.