US courts: Top 5 criminal cases with the Russians involved
In our article, we have selected five high-profile criminal cases, which were considered by the US federal courts and contained the Russians as figurants.
Dirty money from Manhattan
In February 2016, the Manhattan US District started announcement of the verdict to the figurants of a case over illegal gambling business and money laundering. The defendants in the case were people from Russia, including Alimzhan Tokhtakhunov (Taiwanchik).
According to the US authorities, the criminal group, which was headed by Tokhtakhunov, Vadim Trincher and Anatoly Golubchik, were carrying out racketing, illegal gambling and money laundering through offshore structures. From 2006 to 2012, through the accounts in Cyprus 100 million dollars were laundered, 50 million of which were transferred to the United States, where they were invested in real estate and sent to funds, according to the US prosecutors.
30 members of the gang, among which there were sons of Vadim Trincher, Evgeny and Ilya, faced the charges. Tokhtakhunov was charged in absentia, as, according to US authorities, he was in the Russian Federation at that moment.
Ten defendants in the case received real jail terms. The most long term was 5 years for Trincher and Golubchik. In May 2014, Stan Greenberg was jailed for 1 year 3 months. In April 2014, Hillel Nahmad was sentenced to 1 year and 1 day. The others received from 3 to 6 months in prison.
In addition, the court ruled out Nahmad to pay more than $ 6.4 million to the US government (a record sum) and to transfer a picture by Raoul Dufy.
The total sum to be paid to the US was over $ 15 million, excluding fines, which range from 1 thousand to 75 thousand dollars.
Except for a few people the defendants recognized their guilt.
2.5 years for collecting information
In May 2016, the Federal Court for the Southern District of New York sentenced deputy representative of Vnesheconombank (VEB) in the United States Evgeny Buryakov to 2.5 years over collecting information without approval of the US Attorney General, while being "government agent”.
Taking into account Buryakov recognized his guilt, the defense and the prosecution agreed on 2.5-year sentence. It was reported that the prosecution and the defense reached a pre-trial agreement, according to which the Russian was found guilty to one point only.
US prosecutors took into account the fact of absence of any evidence proving the Russian had any confidential data or secret information, which he could transfer to third parties. In addition, he was not suspected of involvement in an attempt to cooperate with third parties and did not put their well-being at risk.
Finally, the Prosecutor's Office took into account the absence of a criminal record and the fact that as soon as the verdict was announced he was to be "immediately deported" and would not pose danger to the United States anymore.
The court ordered Buryakov to pay a fine of 10 thousand dollars (a minimum bar): originally, the amount of the fine ranged from 10 to 100 thousand dollars. Compensation for the damage was not considered, as there was no affected in the case.
Uring announcement of the verdict, judge Berman said that the monthly income of the Russian was 17 thousand dollars, and listed his assets, among which there were a Cadillac sold for 7000 dollars and a share in a Moscow apartment.
According to US prosecutors, Buryakov had been working in Vnesheconombank since 2002, in the US, he came in 2010. The Russian was arrested in late January 2015. Initially, he was suspected of working for the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) of Russia on the territory of the United States. Buryakov himself categorically denied it. Later, any notes on Buryakov’s links with secret services disappeared from the case.
During announcement of the verdict in May 2016, the court once again returned to the issue. In particular, there was mentioned a name of another person involved in the case - an employee of the Russian Trade Representation in New York Igor Sporyshev. According to the prosecution, Buryakov collected information on his instructions. Sporyshev, who had diplomatic immunity, left the United States in November 2014.
While being prosecuted, Buryakov had changed several lawyers from several law firms. So, initially he had a lawyer Sabrina Shroff, who was later replaced by lawyers from Latham & Watkins LLP. Later, Buryakov’s case was carried out by Sean Michael Maher, but later he was replaced by Kimberly Haviv and Scott Hershman from White & Case LLP.
American business by Polyakov of St. Petersburg
In July 2016, N.Y. State Supreme Court sentenced Russian citizen Vadim Polyakov to jail term from 4 to 12 years over theft of personal data of users of the popular in the United States online source StubHub (online ticket sell to all sorts of entertainment, including concerts and sporting events). In addition, the court ruled out confiscation of 91 thousand dollars.
According to US authorities, Polyakov headed a criminal group, whose members were engaged in the theft of personal data for purchase and resale of tickets for events, including Elton John and Justin Timberlake concerts.
Along with Polyakov, five people were arrested in New York, the other - in London and Toronto. The damage done by the defendants was estimated at more than $ 1 million.
The Russian admitted his guilt in money laundering and storage of stolen goods. Arkady Bukh and Charles Cather performed as his defense.
Expensive American technologies
In July 2016, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York announced a verdict in the case of illegal export of technologies from the US to Russia, also known as the ‘Fishenko case’, with 11 people involved.
Sentence to Sevinc Tagiyeva, who came to the US to study at the University of Houston, was recognized fulfilled by the US Supreme Court due to the time she had spent in custody awaiting the sentence.
In October 2012, it was reported on arrest of eight people over illegal export from the US to Russia of high-tech for the needs of intelligence agencies and the FBI. Four of the eight arrested - Victoria Klebanova, Alexander Posobilov, Anastasia Dyatlova and Alexander Fishenko – had a Russian and an American passports.
Three of them, Sergey Klinov, Yuri Savin and Dmitry Shegurov, were declared wanted by US authorities.
A private company Arc Electronics, located in Houston, came to attention of the US law enforcement. There were four employees and owner Alexander Fishenko detained.
The company was involved in transactions on purchase of microelectronics from US manufacturers and subsequent resale of it to Russian companies. The high-tech electronics company customer was Apex System, linked with a number of Russian companies, according to the materials of the case.
Fishenko, the main accused of the case, fully recognized his guilt in September 2015. In particular, he confessed, while being an agent of a foreign government, he participated in the conspiracy to commit fraud, export of microelectronics to Russia thus violating the law, as well as in money laundering and obstructing justice.
He was sentenced to 10 years in prison in July this year. According to the decision of the American court, more than 500 thousand dollars were confiscated from Fishenko, whose interests were represented by Richard Levitt and Dean Martin Solomon from Levitt & Kaizer.
Svetalina Zagon, US citizen of Ukraine origin, defended by Peyton Peebles of Capitaine Shellist Peebles & McAlister LLP, was convicted in September. The Court found her sentence fulfilled as well.
December 1, 2016 Abdullaev, immigrant from Uzbekistan, was sentenced to three years in prison on four counts. His interests were represented by lawyer Richard Lind.
It was expected that most of the other defendants in the criminal case would be sentenced before the end of 2016, but the defense requested a postponement of the sentence till January-February next year.
Anastasia Dyatlova, defended by lawyers from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, insists on removal of all charges or review of her case. This issue is expected to be considered by the US court in mid-January.
In January-February, the sentence for Alexander Posobilov is to be announced, his lawyer is Gudrun Hannah Antonson, as well as to Victoria Klebanova, defended by Justin Harris from Sher Tremonte LLP.
Mein Kampf by Victor Bout
In November 2016 the United States Court of Appeals 2nd Circuit upheld the decision on the case of Russian businessman Viktor Bout, who had been sentenced to 25 years in prison and denied in new re-trial.
Bout’s defense requested review of his case due to the new circumstances. The new facts had to prove the Russian could not enter into an agreement with Andrew Smulian of the UK, who employees of the American Agency for the fight against drugs (DEA) reportedly contacted to get to Bout and who later testified against him. Moreover, according to the defense, the evidence proves Smulian gave false testimony against the Russian, and credibility of a DEA employees raised questions.
The Court of Appeal rejected the arguments of the defense, and refused to recognize the facts and to send the case for re-trial.
The Russian citizen was arrested in Bangkok in March 2008 and subsequently extradited to the US, where he appeared before the court. The Federal Court of New York announced the verdict in April 2012. Bout was found guilty on four counts, in particular, in intention to sell weapons to Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia party (FARC), included in the terrorist list by the United States.
Bout did not recognize his guilt, claiming he was a victim of prosecution with no legal basis and filed a lawsuit to the Court of Appeal. the United States Court of Appeals 2nd Circuit rejected the appeal in September 2013. In October 2016 defense of the Russian submitted a petition for review of the decision, yet the appeal was later withdrawn.
Up to now, the Russian, defended by American lawyer Alexey Tarasov, is serving his sentence in prison of Marion, Illinois.
Businessman Badri Shengelia – a ‘professional witness’ and notorious figure of criminal St. Petersburg – won’t help the law enforcement authorities anymore in their struggle against corruption, banditry, and internal intrigues. The professional ‘work’ of the killers has drawn a line under his controversial life and left plenty of questions to the investigators – because persons interested in this murder can be found literally everywhere, including their own agency.