Nizhny Novgorod region deputy to lose apartment over questionable means
According to the Prosecutor's Office, the income to expenditure of the deputy do not add up.
The Nizhny Novgorod Region Court upheld the decision to forfeit an apartment belonging to Arzamas deputy Roman Laptev, which, judging by the documents, he could not have afforded. The reason for the proceedings was his income declaration, according to which, the people’s deputy lived modestly, and the total income of him and his wife was 171 thousand rubles ($2.732). The Prosecutor's Office wondered as to how the deputy could afford a 2.2-million-ruble ($35,150) apartment being such a man of few means.
Immediately after the prosecutor’s investigation, deputy Laptev, a trained lawyer, provided evidence that he had borrowed 750 thousand rubles ($11,983) from the bank, and the family got 453 thousand ($7,237) as a parent capital. However, he was not able to confirm the rest of the income. In particular, Laptev said that his friend had given him 600 thousand rubles ($9,586) as payment for advice on real estate. As a result, Laptev lost the suit in the city court.
The deputy appealed the court decision in a court of superior jurisdiction, where he provided new evidence that his apartment was the fruit of honest labor. In particular, the man said that he lived with his parents for many years and did not pay for utility services. However, despite Laptev's efforts, the appeal instance upheld the previous decision on the forfeiture of the dwelling. At the same time, according to the law, the entire apartment must be forfeited, even if part of the funds was a result of honest labor.
After the court decision, deputy Laptev said that he was not going to give up and will appeal against the decision before the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, at this stage, the case is already considered a landmark one. This is the first time in the region that property, the costs of which do not correspond to the income declaration, may be forfeited. According to Kommersant, one more deputy of the local City Duma – Aleksey Melnikov – may lose his real estate. The regional government took interest in the two-room apartment he has recently bought.
Initially, the defendants in the case had been charged with embezzlement through swindling in the amount of 225 million rubles ($3.3 million). In the final version of the indictment, the article was changed to 1.5-billion-ruble ($22.45 million) embezzlement.