Exposed assets of Russian officials and businessmen
In 2016, high-ranking officials and security agents were detained with such sums of money that the average Russian citizen cannot even imagine. An incumbent federal minister was arrested for the first time in the new Russian history. A number of influential businessmen also ended up in jail, such as Dmitry ‘24-hour governor’ Mikhalchenko and even the notorious kingpin Shakro Molodoy.
As it turned out, the fight against corruption does not prove nearly as useful as it should be, since many civil servants continue to live in grand style. Some of them are shy enough to hide their wealth, some are not that modest. In any case, all the secret becomes clear with undeclared property becoming public. In this review, the CrimeRussia is going to retell the most scandalous cases involving public officials in 2016.
The mansion of former head of the Federal Customs Service
In late July, the Federal Security Service (FSB) raided the headquarters of the Federal Customs Service (FTS). In the course of investigation, special forces seized documents from the office of FTS head Andrey Belianinov and his two deputies — Andrey Strukov and Ruslan Davydov. As it turned out later, those events had been associated with a complex fraudulent scheme of smuggling elite alcohol. The charges in the criminal case under Part. 3 of Art. 200.2 of the Criminal Code (Illegal transition of alcoholic beverages in large quantities across the customs border) were also filed against head of the holding company Forum, Dmitry Mikhalchenko.
Soon afterwards, the house of FTS head was searched. The footage of how the FSB officers were going through a huge mansion that looked more like a museum were all over the Internet. The country house of the customs official proved the typical image of a Russian officials in the view of an ordinary citizen: nuggets, a one-kilo bar of gold, an expensive collection of pens and numerous antiques — paintings by Russian and European artists and cast iron statues.
Searches at former head of the Federal Customs Service
But then the official surprised the visitors even more, starting to get huge sums of money from shoe boxes.
The official saved huge sums of money in shoe boxes
In total, FSB counted 10 million rubles, 400 thousand dollars, and 300 thousand euros in cash. Belianinov explained that those were family savings.
The mansion itself (1500 sq. m.) is estimated at about 200 million rubles. Moreover, it appears that the elite real estate has not been listed in the official declaration.
Despite such incredible sums, Belianinov, who had been heading FTS for 10 years, was considered only a witness in the smuggling case. The worst punishment for him was dismissal, however, stated as 'voluntary'. The former head of customs modestly expressed his wish to continue working for the good of the country on another position, but so far there has been no worthy alternative for an official of such a high level.
At the December press conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he considered "spreading false stories" about the retired official in the media unacceptable. He insisted that it harmed Belianinov’s reputation, since he had been only a witness in the case. Putin said that "there was no case against Belianinov," making it clear that he held no grudge against former head of the Customs Service.
Soon afterwards, all of Belianinov’s money and jewelry worth about 100 million rubles, seized during the investigation, were returned to him.
One of 2016’s most mentioned people was Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov.
First, it was reported that Shuvalov had acquired a royal flat on Kotelnicheskaya embankment with a total area of 719 sq. m. Later it became clear that he had bought not one but ten apartments. The cost of this real estate, according to rough estimates, amounted to more than 600 million rubles. In addition to that, he already had four declared apartments in Russia, a ‘leased’ home in Austria with a total area of 1480 sq. m., anda ‘rented’ flat in London with an area of 483 sq. m. It is noteworthy that Shuvalov had obtained all the rented real estate from the companies of his wife Olga.
However, as it turned out later, this was not the most important attribute of the official luxury life, because Shuvalov also owned a private jet. However, the most flagrant discovery was the fact that it was not the official, and not even his relatives who traveled on the luxury plane. Instead, Shuvalov’s wife used it to transport family pets to international exhibitions — corgi dogs named Pinkerton (Tosha), Tsesarevich, Ostap Bender, Ya Tvoy Idol (‘I am your idol’), Hugo Boss, and Lisia Staya Gabby Radost Elfov (‘Fox Flock Gabby Joy of the Elves’).
Shuvalov’s wife transported family's pets with private jet
Against this background, some individual statements by Deputy Prime Minister look pretty cynical. In particular, during his visit to Kazan on June 10, Shuvalov inspected the houses under construction and, without hiding a smile, said: "We were shown apartments of 20 square meters today. It seems ridiculous, but people buy such housing, and it is very popular. There is a niche of such housing in the market. " Indeed, it may look ridiculous to the official, who acquires an entire floor in a luxury house.
Prigozhin’s family riches
One of Russia’s modern-day ‘gray cardinals’ is Yevgeny Prigozhin — billionaire, owner of several restaurants, and the chef of the White House. Prigozhin is known by the nickname Putin's Chef, as he owes his rise in career, which started with him opening a restaurant after two prison terms, to serving for Vladimir Putin personally. These fruitful connections helped him become one of the most influential people in the country. Prigozhin is called a sponsor of the so-called ‘Olginsk trolls’ — people paid to leave provocative comments in the social networks. Putin’s Chef has become a monopolist in the sphere of maintenance of military camps, the supply of products to the army and Moscow schools, making huge profits this way.
This fall, The Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) published their investigation, which focused on the ‘modest’ savings of Prigozhin’s family. In particular, they possess a private jet, a St. Vitamin yacht, a collection of elite cars and, of course, several luxury villas in Saint-Petersburg and Gelendzhik. The cost of the site and mansions on it in St. Petersburg is estimated at about 600 million rubles.
Family real estate of Prigozhins
Prigozhin’s daughter Polina vividly described her family’s yacht in the social networks: 6 bedrooms, living room, terrace, dining room, kitchen, staff cabins, and 2 decks. The estimated cost of such a luxury is 5 million euros.
Finally, Prigozhin's family has a small fleet of vehicles: Audi, Range Rover, BMW, Chevrolet, and a vintage Cadillac.
Reports on Sechin
The fact that the almighty Igor Sechin, is a very, very wealthy man is a widely known one. However, the scale of his wealth became more clear following a series of publications of various media outlets. This year’s most striking was written by Novaya Gazeta and tells about the top manager’s incredible yacht, where his beautiful wife gives it large. The boat, by the way, is named after Sechin’s wife — Princess Olga. According to the most conservative estimates, such a vessel can cost about $ 150 million.
Sechin’s wife yacht
Another discovery was made Vedomosti, which wrote about Sechin’s villa on Rublevskoe highway. The construction works there are still humming along, but we can already estimate the extent of it — a land plot of 3 hectares and all the buildings on it are worth about 3.8 billion rubles.
Sechin methodically sued each media outlet, which dared to publish their own investigations. So far, he has always won. The case of Vedomosti was unprecedented — the court ruled to completely destroy the remaining copies of that newspaper issue.
Nizhny Novgorod Mayor and his Miami flats
On the eve of New Year, FBK pleased us with yet another revelation: it turns out that the mayor of Nizhny Novgorod is the proud owner of not one, but two apartments in sunny Miami. Both were purchased by the mayor's wife, Albina Ivanovna Karnilina.
The property is very prestigious, even by American standards: a 42-storey residential complex is located near the sea; its residents have a quay, a beach, a pool, and a billiard room. The cost of the first apartment is 824 thousand dollars, the second one — 1 million 100 thousand dollars. In total, the family of the city head paid nearly 130 million rubles for the acquisition of US property.
Nizhny Novgorod's mayor apartment
It is worth noting that the official’s declaration of income for 2013 equals 4,752,889 rubles. It remains unclear where he obtained the remaining 125 million. Curiously, the official documents on the property even indicate the size of the tax — the mayor's family paid about 76 thousand US dollars (5 million rubles).
It is noteworthy that following the investigation, the information about the marital status of the mayor started to disappear from the Internet. Komsomolskaya Pravda asked Ivan Karnilin to comment on the situation, and he admitted that the property actually belonged to his family, but he had long since divorced, and, "as an honest man left the apartment to his wife, and does not regret it."
To find out whether the official was sincere, NTV journalists tested him with a polygraph. The device showed that Karnilin was honest in the answers to the main questions, namely whether the divorce from his wife was sham and whether the divorce was an attempt to hide expensive property. In both cases, the mayor replied negatively.
The most notable exposure of 2016, not only in Russia but on a global scale, was the so-called ‘Panama Papers’ – the leakage of compromising information from the database of the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca documents, which registered offshore companies. Lots of celebrities and politicians from around the world turned to have offshores, including actors Emma Watson and Jackie Chan, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the father of the now former British Prime Minister James Cameron, and football player Lionel Messi.
Of course, the Russians paid particular interest to the list of their countrymen, and the Panama Papers lived up to their promises The documents of the company contain dozens of names of prominent politicians, State Duma members, businessmen, security officials, and their relatives.
In particular, the list included members of parliament Victor Zvagelsky, Mikhail Slipenchuk, Suleiman Geremeev, and Alexander Babakov. The State Duma proved to be quite innocent though, for none of the members of the 7 convocation were involved in the offshore scandal.
A separate record was dedicated to the cellist and conductor Sergey Roldugin, a close friend of the Russian president. It turned out that the modest artist controlled the multi-billion-dollar offshore empire. According to Novaya Gazeta, Roldugin’s structures managed the funds received from Rosneft and Gazprom’s deals, from major businessmen and loans by Cyprus RCB Bank.
Not a single criminal case has been instituted following the results of multiple inspections. However, the international inquiry gave reporters a handy tool to search for offshore companies — a specially designed website shows all foreign companies associated with the particular address or name.
Medvedev’s hidden dacha
Another discovery was the video of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s hidden dacha — the Milovka residence at Plyos, located on the Volga River in the Ivanovo district. The territory of 80 hectares has 6-meter fence and includes three helipads, a ski slope and a special communications tower, underground structures, and two guest houses.
FBK came to the conclusion that all this splendor belongs to Dmitry Medvedev based on the geo-tags from the politician’s social networks and extracts from Russian State Register. Corruption fighters believe that the land was owned by the fund, where Medvedev’s wife Svetlana had a share.
Secret dacha of Medvedev
Medvedev’s Press Secretary Natalya Timakova officially denies that the territory belongs to the prime minister. She insists that Medevedev repeatedly stayed there, but as a guest, not the host. "This villa, as well as other objects of temporary residence, is not owned by Medvedev and not used by him and his family members on a different legal basis... This does not mean that they have never been there... But I will add that residence, where the prime minister is placed on the temporary or permanent residence is under the protection of the FSO (Federal Guard Service) and provides a means of special communication," Timakova said.
Unofficial wife of State Duma member Slipenchuk
The CrimeRussia also contributed to the 2016 exposures, checking the activities of one of the wealthiest members of the State Duma of the Russian Federation Mikhail Slipenchuk. It turned out that the owner of the 387 plots of land (including two sites in the Congo and one apartment in France) conceals a marriage with his former employee Anna Dorosh.
Mikhail Slipenchuk and his wife
Despite the fact that the couple denies any ties with each other, they always appear on all events together, the date of birth of their children (except the eldest son from Slipenchuk’s first marriage), place and time of their holidays are the same. Finally, the photo of Dorosh’s fan-passport has the name "Slipenchuk" painted out.
To get an official answer to the question why the State Duma member did not mention his wife in the income statement, the CrimeRussia sent a request to the Administration of the Russian President. From there, our request was sent to the State Duma, and further referred to the State Duma Committee for the control over reliability of data on income, property and property obligations, submitted by members of the State Duma. At this point, there has been no reply yet.
It is worth noting that Mikhail Slipenchuk lost the recent election and no longer is a member of the State Duma. Last but not least it was influenced by the fact that Slipenchuk concealed information about his offshore in Panama.
The Legal Initiative researcher Saida Sirazhudinova at the All-Russian Civil Forum asked the representative of the mufti of Chechnya about the "honor killings" in Caucasus. And soon after that, she found herself under surveillance.