Trial of Economic Crime Department Head began in Australia

Trial of Economic Crime Department Head began in Australia
VISA payment system has caught swindlers faster than Sverdlovsk police Photo: Aleksandr Elizarov © URA.Ru

VISA has sparked an international scandal, involving the Sverdlovsk Major.

URA.Ru has learned the specifics of a criminal case, involving the Head of Economic Crime Department of the Zarechny Administration of Internal Affairs Ivan Balantsov. The police officer, who had been placed under house arrest in late September, has been investigating embezzlement from bank cards in the VISA payment system. The affected parties include two dozen Australian pensioners and the federal bank Transcapitalbank. Balantsov himself has been charged with swindling, however, he has a different version of events.

The Head of the Department for Economic Security and Combatting the Corruption of the Zarechny Administration of Internal Affairs Ivan Balantsov was arrested on September 22 in his office. There was a bundle of banknotes totaling 100 thousand rubles in the glove compartment of the officer’s service vehicle.

The money discovery was preceded by a long conversation between Balantsov and the Head of the Sverdlovsk branch of Transcapitalbank Dmitry Pashkov. According to the criminal case’s storyline, it had been Pashkov, from whom the Police Major had received the money in question, which was initially regarded as a bribe. Later, a new charge was filed against Balantsov, accusing him of swindling.

Ноу swindling with bank cards linked to the US payment system VISA were a prerequisite for the scandal in the Sverdlovsk police. In the summer of 2016, an amount equivalent to 4.5 million rubles was automatically deducted from 22 plastic bank cards belonging to Australian citizens.

Иван Баланцов за два дня до помещения под домашний арест

Photo: Ivan Balantsov two days before being placed under house arrest

The money was allegedly taken for transfer and accommodation in the Urals city of Zarechny, famous for its nuclear power plant. But since none of the affected Australians had visited Russia, VISA payment system support blocked about 800 thousand rubles on accounts of the Sverdlovsk branch of Transcapitalbank due to the numerous complaints.

Yet unidentified fraudsters, who had been abusing stolen credit card details, simply did not have time to withdraw this part of the money.

Transcapitalbank appeared to be the injured party for providing acquiring services — fast payments protocol using credit card digits — to a hotel owner in Zarechny, certain Regionalny Tsentr Metallobrabotki LLC (Regional Metal Processing Center). The company office is registered in Yekaterinburg. In the financial structure, in which RTsM received money of cardholders, Transcapitalbank was the guarantor for the legality of settlements to VISA. In case of fraudulent debiting, the payment system would be entitled to freeze money of the bank, which provides acquiring services to the commercial enterprise. In this case, the funds of the Australian citizens were leaked from a hotel acquiring terminal of RTsM LLC in Zarechny.

July 2016, the bank’s management had filed a complaint of swindling to the Yekaterinburg Administration of Internal Affairs, and then the investigation materials were referred to the Major Balantsov. According to the logic of the law enforcement system, the Head of Economic Crime Department of the Zarechny had to find the fraudsters and the money they had stolen in one way or another.

The Investigative Department of the ICR does not reveal the investigation’s details. It is noted that 100 thousand rubles received from the head of the Sverdlovsk branch of Transcapitalbank allegedly were the first tranche for assistance. URA.Ru has managed to exchange a few words with Ivan Balantsov immediately after his detention before he was placed under house arrest. In the conversation with a journalist, the police major explained that the banker was to return 800 thousand rubles, which had been frozen, the more so because there were people claiming this money.

The fact is that by the end of August, RTsM employees created a commission on labor disputes, based on the decision of which, under the Russian law, the bank had to give back the money. However, the bank was unwilling to part with the rest of the money, although withdrawal could only be countered by the investigation materials. According to Balantsov, the bank manager clearly hinted that he was ready to pay for the work.

The Major believes he had been set up by planting of money in his car, and regrets he had not told about the commercial offer to his superiors.

According to one version of the police officer, the Head of the bank was going to make a buck himself, informing the federal leadership about compensation demanded by police for defrosting accounts. However, it is unknown what really happened. Transcapitalbank, to which URA.Ru had sent an official request, has failed to provide answers to any of questions asked. As evident from the response letter from the credit institution’s official representative Viktoria Kazakova, the bank does not comment on the investigation.

One more version is put forward by politicians informed about the situation in Zarechny. According to the former Deputy of the Zarechny City Duma Mikhail Kovalev, the reason for the attack on Balantsov was his investigation into the sale of forest fund plots in the city. “In the period from 2013 to 2015, the Administration of Zarechny sold 47 plots of forest fund within the city at a price of 12-14 thousand rubles in violation of the procedure. The actual price of each of those plots was 500-800 thousand rubles. It is therefore not surprising that people close to the former City Manager Evgeny Dobrodey got 32 plots. Ivan Aleksandrovich Balantsov was investigating this case, so they decided to remove him,” Kovalev said.

The Deputy is confident that the Major was a victim of provocation carried out with the help of the hotel owners, who may be associated with both the local officials, and security forces, who had also received land plots.

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