Former Russian organized crime fighter invests $38mln in Florida real estate 

Former Russian organized crime fighter invests $38mln in Florida real estate
Photo: Miami Herald

There are grounds to believe that the retired general of the Ministry of Internal Affairs has acquired assets in Florida with funds obtained through criminal means.

Former First Deputy Head of the MIA Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime now living in the US, Major-General Anatoly Petukhov, has found himself at the center of real estate-related scandal. 

According to a joint investigation of Transpаrenсy International and Miami Herald, the retired fighter against organized crime owns assets worth $38 million.

Such is the amount invested in the real estate of the US state of Florida by former Deputy Head of the MIA Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Head of the CIS antiterrorist center, Anatoly Petukhov, since 2010. We have studied General Petukhov’s career path from the deputy head of the powerful Directorate for Combating Organized Crime to a modest realtor in Miami.

General Petukhov was dismissed from the MIA after the resignation of Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Rushaylo in 2001 and the escape of his right-hand man, Aleksandr Orlov, from Russia. In the 90s, the Department for Combating Organized Crime made a bad name. Businessmen used to chase up debts from other businessmen with the department's help. Every now and then, the Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime would side with one of the parties to "disputes between economic entities" as part of  power redistribution of property, the Transpаrenсy International's investigation says.

The Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime was so corrupt that these events were followed by massive dismissals of the Interior Ministry generals.

After his dismissal from the internal affairs, Petukhov started to work for the MIA All-Union Scientific Research Institute and went into business. According to Transpаrenсy, the only official source of income of General Petukhov in Russia was Obyedinenny Torgovy Dom Yasenevo (Yasenevo United Trade House) OJSC, formed by combining the existing department stores Yasenevo, Dobryninsky, Molodezhny, and Belgrad. In 2002, Petukhov became one of its main shareholders. Colliers International estimated the market value of OJSC's assets at that time at $140-160 million.

According to the enterprise's financial statements, Yasenevo Trade House would earn about 200 million rubles ($3.47 million) a year in the period from 2010 to 2014. At the same time, the company paid dividends (amounting to mere 1.07 million rubles=$18.6 thousand) only once, in 2012.

In 2010, according to the investigation, General Petukhov moved to Miami, where he acquired real estate in one of the most beautiful and expensive luxury condominiums – Continuum North Tower – worth $3.04 million. In Miami, Petukhov took up business; already the following year, he bought an office space worth $3.2 million for his needs.

The development company Asko Inc, established by the former deputy head of the Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime, specialized in renting office premises and shopping centers, as well as managing commercial real estate. Through a number of commercial structures controlled by Petukhov, Asko Inc owned three office spaces, a shopping center in Hallandale Beach and seven office spaces on the first floor of the Imperial Towers North with a total value of $13.6 million.

It is known that for the purchase of one of these premises, Petukhov's company received a loan of $2.1 million for a period of 10 years from Stonegate Bank, however, the retired general repaid it in just 2 years.

The researchers called the purchase of two villas on Hibiscus Island with a difference of only 4 days the largest deal of Petukhov. The cost of one villa was $7.9 million, and the other – $7.05 million.

The investigation's authors found out the origin of funds for the purchase of real estate by General Petukhov. The Miami-Dade County Civil Court came across a suit by shareholders of Yasenevo Trade House filed in 2013, which answers this question. The plaintiff representatives demanded compensation of damages in the amount of $50.50 million and confiscation of the retired general's property in Florida. Apart from Petukhov, defendants in the suit included a certain Irina Poliski, the general's wife Yulia, and Asko Inc.

The plaintiff states that in the period from 2005 to 2012, Petukhov had illegally withdrawn more than $16.8 million from Yasenevo Trade House, which were later laundered in the US and used to buy real estate in Florida. Petukhov's partners have also accused him of physical threats to Chairman of the Yasenevo United Trade House OJSC's board of directors, Pavel Gornostaev, demanding not to institute criminal proceedings in Russia.

However, despite the intensity of the situation, the parties suddenly entered into a settlement in 2014. The Yasenevo Trade House representatives withdrew their claims. At the parties' request, the judicial documents were removed from public access in order to "prevent reputational damage to the parties."

Six months later, shareholders of Yasenevo Trade House sold their shares to the structures of Sergey Gordeev's PIK Group. Before the sale, Petukhov transferred his shares of the trade house (25%) to the offshore Niselo Holdings Limited, through which the deal was concluded.

In addition, the investigation of Transparency International has evidence that the ex-general has illegally obtained the status of a US resident together with his family, and could have been involved in crimes in Russia. However, the organization could not establish the origin of about $40 million that Petukhov had invested in Florida real estate.

Based on the facts stated in the investigation, Transparency International has prepared appeals to the Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation and Rosfinmonitoring (Federal Financial Monitoring Service). Official appeals will also be sent to the US Department of Financial Crimes (FinCEN) and the FBI.

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