Ex-banker robs people in amount of $103m without leaving prison

Ex-banker robs people in amount of $103m without leaving prison
Maxim Serkin with his wife

Convicted for fraud, Maxim Serkin created a financial pyramid, operating in 17 regions of Russia.⁠

Employees of the Main Directorate for Economic Safety and Counteracting Corruption (GUEBiPK) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of Russia detained eight people in a case on creation of a financial pyramid, helmed by former banker Maxim Serkin, who is currently serving time. In late October, law enforcement officers conducted searches in 180 financial institutions located in Moscow, St. Petersburg, the Saratov region, Krasnodar Krai, the Novosibirsk region, Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, Primorsky Krai and other regions of the country.

All detainees were taken into custody. A case under Art. 210 and part 2 of Art. 172.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Organization of a Criminal Community to raise funds) was initiated.

The pyramid has functioned since 2013 under the guise of consumer credit unions (KPK), which promised their depositors from 16 to 20% per annum, while banks offered no more than 10%. At the same time, the pyramid operated legally - KPKs had a license from the Central Bank, and quite legal contracts were concluded with clients.

However, despite the fact that the company claimed that it was engaged in investing in the construction of residential and business facilities, in fact, payments of interest were exclusively at the expense the deposits of new customers. When the flow of the latter declined, this summer the pyramid collapsed - all KPKs not only stopped paying interest, but also refused the depositors to return the money they had invested. According to the investigation, the main skeleton of deposits was amounts sums from 30 thousand ($515.7) to 400 thousand rubles ($6.8 thousand). But several hundred people invested from a few dozens to hundreds of million rubles. In total, for four years the unions have robbed 25 thousand people for more than 6 billion rubles ($103.1m).

The investigation considers Far Eastern businessman and philanthropist Maxim Serkin the organizer of the pyramid. Since 2015 he has been serving a sentence in a penal colony on charges of swindling. In the period from 2009 to 2010, during his stint as a chairman of the board of directors of Vostokkreditbank, now deprived of a license and declared bankrupt, he illegally reimbursed VAT. For the theft of tens of millions of rubles from the state, Serkin was sentenced to three years in prison and fined 500.000 rubles ($8.5 thousand).

He orchestrated the pyramid through his sister - Ekaterina Druzhinina (also arrested) via phone. It is known that the money received from the shareholders under loan agreements was withdrawn to the accounts of more than 300 shell companies in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Khabarovsk Krai.

It is noteworthy that, in his first case Serkin hoped to free himself on parole in the near future. At the same time, a court of the city of Blagoveshchensk is trying another criminal case against him under Art. 196 of the Criminal Code on the Deliberate Bankruptcy of Vostokkreditbank. According to the investigation, Serkin, along with several other members of the board of directors withdrew assets worth over 1.3 billion rubles ($22.3m) from the bank for a few months of 2013.

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