Siloviki removed from controversial case of fraud in Mercedes procurement
The case has been referred to court for the third time already.
There is only one defendant left in the high-profile criminal case of fraud in the procurement of Mercedes cars for the MIA and the Federal Protective Service in mid-2000s; it is veteran of law enforcement bodies Mikhail Budynin, who acted as an intermediary in the fraudulent purchases. The criminal case against the remaining security officials, as well as the alleged fraud organizer Ekaterina Priemskaya has been terminated in connection with expiry of the statute of limitations.
Which leaves Budynin the only defendant. The siloviki, who had participated in the procurement, have accepted the termination of the criminal prosecution on non-rehabilitating grounds – due to the expiry of the 10-year statute of limitations. Mikhail Kostylev, responsible for the purchase of foreign cars in the Federal Protective Service, was the first to accept this in 2016. Now the criminal case against two more defendants – MIA officer Vitaly Baturin and former Mercedes-Benz Rus CJSC Key Account Manager Ekaterina Priemskaya – has been terminated.
The case itself has been referred to court for the third time already. In 2015 and 2016, the courts remanded the case to the investigation twice to eliminate violations of the Criminal Procedure Code.
It is now a question of only one episode related to the transfer of 78 thousand euros from the head office of DaimlerCrysler AG in Stuttgart to Mikhail Budynin’s personal account in Gazprombank in 2007. However, as it turned out, the concern had allocated this money as a social aid for the treatment of Budynin's son from gambling.
To recall, according to the investigation, in 2004-2005, Vitaly Baturin offered Mikhail Budynin, who had resigned back in 1997, to act as an intermediary in the procurement of Mercedes cars by his ministry. Over two years, the Ministry of Internal Affairs acquired about 60 cars. At the same time, the illegal remuneration of the intermediary was more than 200 thousand euros. Over the same period, the Federal Protective Service bought about 20 SUVs and S-class limousines. The commission fee amounted to almost 500 thousand euros. All this money was transferred by Daimler to accounts of offshore companies in the Latvian Multibank and Ogres kommercbanka. In total, the US Securities Commission and the US Ministry of Justice found more than 1 million euros in these accounts, accessible by high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Federal Protective Service, as well as persons affiliated with them. The ICR failed to clarify who had got this money, and the criminal case was initiated under Swindling (Art. 159 of the Russian Criminal Code) rather than under Bribe-Taking (Art. 290). According to the investigation, DaimlerCrysler AG had been deceived, allegedly giving money to intermediaries without any power instead of people authorized to make decisions on contracts.
The auto giant Mercedes has admitted its guilt in giving bribes to officials in 22 countries, including Russia, paying multimillion-dollar fines, and its guilt has been confirmed by a verdict of the American court.