FSB Colonel from President’s office arrested for extortion of several million rubles

FSB Colonel from President’s office arrested for extortion of  several million rubles
Photo: Znak.com

Mikhail Gorbatov from the office of the President who had been responsible for implementation of presidential decrees related to granting pardon and political asylum helped his partners in crime to intimidate an entrepreneur.

The current Colonel of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and the former head of the Monitoring and Inspection Department of the President’ office for safeguarding of citizens’ constitutional rights Mikhail Gorbatov has become a defendant in the criminal case related to extortion on an especially large scale (item 4 of article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) that is being investigated by the central military investigation department of the Investigative Committee, reports Kommersant daily. The investigation theory is that Gorbatov helped his partners in crime to intimidate a business manager of a high-end pawnshop’s chain who was being extorted a few hundred thousand dollars from. 

The victim was a head of a chain of pawnshops specializing in watches. Its clients - without sureties and certificates - could get 50-100 thousand dollars loans against pledged Swiss watches that have been just taken off a hand. In February, 2017, the Moscow-based pawnbroker’s offices were searched with its cash register and collateralized property being seized as a material evidence in the criminal case. The items and watches were not given back straight away. One of the pawnbroker’s clients, an influential entrepreneur Arno Khojoyan, offered his help in “looking into the situation.” The pawnbroker gave a ready assent. 

The investigation theory is that after a while, Khojoyan invited the pawnshop's director to a restaurant and introduced him to his fellow - an entrepreneur Vladimir Korobkov who was close to “high-ranking FSB officials.” Previously, Korobkov really worked in law enforcement agencies and managed to convince the pawnbroker of his status. He promised to get back everything that had been seized - against $100 thousand consideration. 

The money was not given back to the pawnshop's director. He was a witness in the criminal case in the context of which searches had been carried out. Khojoyan and Korobkov attempted to get money from the pawnbroker once again. He was said that the investigator who was working on the case had allegedly given an FSB operative an order to carry out tracking activities as to him. 

After the pawnbroker started having second thoughts Korobkov’s powers, the latter drew his fellow Mikhail Gorbatov - a senior operative of 11 unit of K department of the FSB Economic Security Service - to the extortion. At Korobkov’s request, he sent a request to the chain of pawnshops requiring to provide copies of registration papers and other data on the pawnshops’ business activities.

After that, Khojoyan and Korobkov claimed even greater amount of money from their victim. In their words, they had to make an agreement with executives of operative and investigative offices. Eventually, Korobkov cut the required amount asking $300 thousand, given that the money was going to be paid within two weeks. However, the pawnbroker did not manage to find the required money. 

During the subsequent negotiations, the extorters intimidated the pawnbroker, so that he had to give them four patterns of Harry Winston, De Witt and Bovet wrist watches worth of more than $300 thousand each. After that, the victim contacted the central military investigation department of the Investigative Committee. The criminal case was initiated, following preliminary inquiries. 

Operatives of the Internal Security Directorate of the Federal Security Service detained people sent by Khojoyan and Korobkov who arrived to get the money. After that, Gorbatov was detained in his apartment. The investigation theory is that he was not only involved in an attempt of theft of $300 thousand from the pawnbroker, but also in a fraud that was really accomplished in 2017. All three were accused of a massive 5.8 million rubles ($88.3 thousand) fraud by deception and breach of trust, as well as an attempt of theft of 15.8 million rubles ($240.6 thousand) (item 4 of article 159 and article 30 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation).  

By the request of the central military investigation department of the Investigative Committee, all three were arrested - with Gorbatov’s colleagues supporting the Colonel’s arrest stating in the operative’s report that he could really interfere with the investigation, because “he has wide connections within law-enforcement and officer work skills.” The Colonel - unlike his alleged partners in crime - did not appeal against his measure of restraint. As soon as Gorbatov was arrested, the office’s President was dismissed, as well. However, he is still listed among the FSB officials. The Presidential Administration executives were also dismissed, however it is unknown whether it happened because of the Colonel’s arrest or for some other reason. 

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