Murder, threats, disgraced millionaire, parliamentary immunity in hoodwinked investors case
Alla Andreyeva was known to regulate the community of the investors who had been hoodwinked by the Gorod Group of Companies. The murder of her husband Konstatntin was the final nail in the coffin of the business venture operated by Vanchugov brothers.
its several unfinished building sites at knockdown price. In addition, the rumor goes that the investigators leading the case of fraud in the Fininvest Bank have drawn a confession from the convicted chairman of the board Nataliya Gromova against one of the former beneficiaries, Maxim Vanchugov. However, according to some information from the criminal investigation on the murder of Konstantin Andreyev, the disgraced millionaire may have had nothing to do with it, and the accusations of ordering the assassination may also be unsubstantiated.
The investigators are currently looking into multiple versions. Still, insiders agree on one thing: apart from financial fraud and cheating investors, Vanchugov brothers stepped on the toes of some important official on top of the food chain.
Road map of stolen billions
The history of the brothers’ fall is quite simple and serves as a shining example of a fraud case. The investigative committee is currently preparing for an extensive questioning of nearly 5000 affected investors of the Gorod Grouo of Companies.
The investigators claim that Vanchugov brothers used the affiliated Fininvest bank to siphon off 7 billion rubles paid by investors for their apartments.
Photo: Fininvest Bank ownership scheme
On July 7, 2014, the Central Bank revoked Fininvest’s license, after the interim administration had detected asset stripping amounting to 19.5 billion rubles. In August, the bank was declared bankrupt. In February 2015, the size of the bank's debt equaled 12.4 billion rubles. Upon discovering a 20-billion rubles worth hole in the budget of the bank, the experts started suspecting Vanchugov brothers in dissipating of assets.
They also stand accused of registering about 1 thousand apartments worth more than 2 billion rubles on front companies. Meanwhile, the construction process remains on hold, despite the fact that the future apartments were paid in full. Several buildings are even stuck at earthworks. ‘Moral monsters’ is the most decent expression the shareholders use towards the Gorod members in their VKontakte group. The battle for the apartments has been raging for 2 years and has turned into a grueling guerrilla war. During this time, the investors have repeatedly appealed to the press, shelled the authorities with requests, and filed written statements for the police. The confrontation regularly flares up with rallies.
Soon the battle gradually moved into the courtrooms, with multiple bankruptcy claims. In the summer of 2014, the situation changed for the worst, when the Fininvest Bank lost the license, and hence builders had their accounts closed.
It is worth noting that the investors managed to get a swift response from the government of St. Petersburg. Under the present circumstances, two years of ordeal for the deceived citizens is not really a long period. Now the authorities come to grips with the implementation of a program that will help complete the construction of the residential complexes. It is the investors who are the real heroes of this story though, or better to say that it was their activity that made this happen. One of the administrators of the Vkontakte group of investors is an activist Alla Andreyeva. The tragic death of her husband was a final nail in the coffin of the Vanchugov’s building empire.
Back in 2013, the Gorod Group of Companies announced construction of three large housing complexes (Leninsky Park, Morskaya Zvezda and Pribaltiyskiy) in Krasnoselsky and Primorsky districts of St. Petersburg. In each of them the company planned to build two or three minor complexes: Planeta, Vysota, and Sputnik in the Leninsky Park; Azimut and Orbita in the Pribaltiyskiy; Azimut in the Morskaya Zvezda. The company started selling the apartments in the same year. However, in 2014, the construction process was put on hold, and future owners of apartments began gathering rallies. In May 2015, a criminal investigation was opened over theft of the investors’ money. Two months later, in July 2015, the objects of the Gorod Group of Companies were transferred to the State Unitary Enterprise Construction Assistance Center, to finish the building process.
Shattering blow to the triarchy
On October 6, 2015, Konstantin Andreyev was found with a broken head in the yard of a private house in Petrodvorets district. On that evening, Konstantin was coming home from training, he parked his car, and then was attacked by an unidentified person. The preliminary investigation established that the offender killed Andreyev by striking him on the head with a heavy object. The investigation also noticed the message that the suspect left on the Andreyev’s family car, "You're next." The threat was clear and concise, so the widow of the deceased was immediately placed under state protection. Alla Andreyeva’s public activity became one of the main versions of the murder cause. Members of various Russia social networks were convinced that Konstantin had been assassinated on the order of Vanchugov brothers. This was done in retaliation for his wife raising the buzz around the stolen billions, which allowed the St. Petersburg government to expropriate their building sites free of charge.
The murder provoked wide public response, so Russian Prosecutor General Alexander Bastrykin had to take the case under his personal supervision. Petersburg government also vigorously condemned the offenders. Vice-governor Igor Albin said that all of the Gorod Group of Companies building sites would be brought under the state control. On October 27, the operative-investigative team paid a visit to the office and home of Maxim Vanchugov, who had become the sole head of the company on October 1. Further attempts to get the brothers Maxim and Ruslan from the reception office of their third brother, a lawmaker, are difficult to describe. Since Roman Vanchugov enjoyed his parliamentary immunity, the investigators could not take him in, they had to arrest only Maxim and Ruslan.
Vasileostrovskiy court brought in an ambiguous verdict regarding the two convicted brothers. Maxim went to jail, while Ruslan was placed under house arrest. Recently his detention has been extended up to August 2016. Both of them have been charged only with fraud, not a word has been said about the murder. After this, the heated discussion with the authorities moved in the media, with Roman Vanchugov saying that his family was prosecuted for purely political reasons, namely because the Deputy Governor Albin promised to put him and his brothers behind bars. Vanchugov also shifted the blame for the building halt to the authorities, claiming that they were quietly throwing sand in the wheels, preventing the Gorod Group of Companies from doing its work. Meanwhile, the website dedicated to the activities of the lawmakers bursts with comments by defrauded investors, who are accusing of stealing their money not Ruslan and Maxim, but Roman Vanchugov. The expressions like "a thief" and "a crook" are the most gentle among all others.
Roman Vanchugov was born on February 28, 1972, in Leningrad in the military family. He graduated from the North-West Academy of Public Administration with a degree in Finance and Credit. Before becoming a member of the parliament, he worked as Director General of the Limited Liability Company Lensotszhilstroy. In 2007, he joined the political party Just Russia. Since 2011, a member of the State Duma of the Leningrad region in the party lists. In 2012, headed the regional council of the party. He is considered the richest lawmaker in the Leningrad region and a protégé of the Deputy Chairman of the Russian Central Bank Alexey Simanovsky. Vanchugov owns 60% of LLC Fininvest Bank, 60% of the shares of LLC Fininvest, and 60% of LLC Lensotszhilstroy.
Theories and reality
Meanwhile, the investigators have failed to find any evidence regarding the involvement of Vanchugov brothers in a criminal case on the murder of Konstantin Andreyev, which definitely looked like an assassination for lots of wannabe-experts on the Internet. Instead, the investigators are now looking into three other suspects, who are not related to each other. Two of them are activists of the same social movement of the defrauded investors, like Alla Andreyeva.
Currently, investigators are engaged in a detailed interrogation of a certain Alexey Ivanov, who was a moderator at the website of the defrauded investors. Ivanov claimed that he had received death threats and warnings from some "serious people" about possible physical violence against activists. The investigators have doubts that such threats even existed. The investigative committee also turned its attention to a certain Sergey Yavorsky, who is also an activist and a participant in rallies and protests. Like Ivanov, he is also suspected of staging false threats. Another surprising party to this story is a former investigator of the Leningrad Region Vitaliy Khan. However, the most peculiar fact about this whole situation is that Alla Andreyeva was not the first who decided to help the investors. At the beginning it was Ivanov and Yavorsky who tried to lobby for them. Alla Andreyeva appeared a bit later, and her support team quickly replaced the so-called pioneers of the protest movement. However, despite these theories by law enforcement agencies, the investors themselves highly doubt that the murder happened as a result of some internal struggle. They claim that they have literally nothing to fight for, but their inexistent apartments.
The third participant of this story, Vitaliy Khan, is now considered the most cryptic. In the past, the former law enforcer was accused of involvement in robberies and even had a hand in one ugly history with the arrest of the members of the criminal investigation department. In any case, he has the skills to stage provocations, thanks to the set of skills he acquired at his former profession. Can it be that a retired investigator is involved in the murder? For now there is no definite answer to that question. However, he has some common ground with the deceived investors, and that is his small business. His firm’s cars collected garbage of the Prommonolit construction company. After the collapse of the Vanchugovs’ empire, Prommonolit also had a hard time, because the Gorod Group of Companies was paying for their services not with money, but with square meters in the future apartments.
Following a statement about Vanchugov’s possible involvement in a serious crime, member of the Legislative Assembly asked the chief of the main department of the Russian Interior Ministry in St. Petersburg and Leningrad region Sergey Umnov to conduct a thorough investigation. City Prosecutor Sergey Litvinenko received similar requests and was asked to take the investigation under special control. The lawmakers also decided to deprive Roman Vanchugov of his seat in the assembly. So far, he only lost his position in the political party.
Meanwhile, the presence of other persons involved in this intricate criminal case makes us think this could be some kind of provocation, which conveniently coincided with the collapse of the Vanchugovs’ business and their arrest. It would be wise to sort the wheat from the chaff though. Vanchugovs’ financial fraud is a fact on its own, but it may not be a part of the events that lead to the murder of Konstantin Andreyev.
Rumor has it that the St. Petersburg government had its own motives to actively support the security forces in their campaign against Vanchugov brothers. Firstly, the authorities were bored to death with the problems of another vocal group of deceived investors. Secondly, Vanchugov brothers had a strong friendship with Marat Oganesyan, former vice-governor and a raider (as people called him behind his back). His criminal ties were not a secret for anyone, and such reputation was extremely harmful to the city administration. Supposedly, Acting Governor of St. Petersburg Georgy Poltavchenko was presented with interesting documents, which proved that Marat Oganesyan was going to capture the state unitary enterprises like Vodokanal, Petersburg Metro, Metrostroy, and other key organizations. It was expected that the posts in these essential enterprises would be divided between the code-bound thieves. For now, nothing links Vanchugovs directly with the criminal world. However, their friend who vanished from sight was a quite respectable person among the elders of the thieves' world.
Ultimately, we can expect a dramatic conclusion to both the case of Konstantin Andreyev's murder, and the case of fraud against the investors. Too many people from the government, construction industry and the criminal world have shared interest in this matter.