Status of Ergobank ex-head’s lawyer who testified against his client is revoked

Status of Ergobank ex-head’s lawyer who testified against his client is revoked
Vyacheslav Barmin

Lawyers have driven the former FSB Colonel out from their association for testifying against his client, thus violating not only professional confidentiality, but also the law on advocacy.

The Moscow Region Bar Association Council has unanimously revoked the lawyer’s status from Leonid Sharyi, who had previously represented the interests of ex-Chairman of the Ergobank Board, Vyacheslav Barmin, Kommersant reports.

According to the banker, instead of providing legal assistance, the lawyer convinced him that only a full confession can save him, which he himself drew up. Barmin agreed, as retired FSB Colonel Sharyi, who defended him, convinced him that otherwise he faced several “grave” articles with an aggregate period of 10 years’ imprisonment.

During the Bar Association Council meeting, the arguments of Sharyi’s former client Barmin were fully confirmed; the banker told how, having heeded to the lawyer’s arguments, he repented before the ICR, after which Sharyi testified against him to investigators.

According to Barmin’s new lawyer Anna Panicheva (the former banker has already terminated the contract with Sharyi), Sharyi was not summoned for questioning – he came to investigators himself. At the moment, the investigation has only one material evidence, namely copies of cash orders certified by lawyer Sharyi, using which Barmin had allegedly received money from the bank. In addition, other bank employees, with whom Sharyi had had an agreement, now testify against Barmin as prosecution witnesses. According to Barmin, Sharyi did not treat the information provided by him as legal professional privilege, but used it against his client instead.

In response, Leonid Sharyi tried to convince his colleagues that he did not defend Barmin in the criminal case, and every citizen must testify as a witness.

Former Chairman of the Ergobank Board Vyacheslav Barmin is accused of embezzling 758 million rubles ($13.3 million) from his own credit institution. The trial in his case has been held in the Tverskoy District Court of Moscow since January 2018. 

It was previously reported that one of the bank owners recommended that ex-Chairman of the Ergobank Board Vyacheslav Barmin turn to the retired FSB colonel back in December 2015, two weeks before the bank license was revoked. In late December 2015, the bank, whose clients included 60 organizations of the Russian Orthodox Church, stopped issuing deposits to individuals due to lack of liquidity.

In 2016, the bank’s interim administration repeatedly filed applications for the initiation of criminal proceedings against ex-Ergobank Chairman Vyacheslav Barmin over 780-million-ruble ($13.6 million) embezzlement, however, the ICR Main Investigations Directorate in Moscow, and then the ICR Main Investigations Directorate found no grounds for prosecution of the former banker. The criminal case under part 4 of Art. 160 of the Russian Criminal Code (Misappropriation or Embezzlement) was initiated in January 2017 only after Central Bank Chairwoman Elvira Nabiullina’s appeal to law enforcement bodies.

According to the investigation, “having the authority to dispose of the bank's property, and out of mercenary interest, Barmin appropriated the money from the bank's cash desk.”

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