Empty pockets and freedom: why does oligarch Mikhalchenko keep Bronka?
When we face the proclamation of judgment in the Basmanny court, it became clear that disgraced oligarch Dmitry Mikhalchenko will enter the walls of his home. He has only three months left to do term.
One day is equal to the day and a half
Only people versed in jurisprudence understood what happened on December 29, 2018, in the courtroom of the Basmanny Court of Moscow. Those who are not strong in legal subtleties paid attention only to restrained pride, which illuminated the face of the oligarch. So, the decision of the court sentenced Mikhalchenko to 4 years seven months in a penal colony. It is necessary to notice that the court decision was a complete surprise to both lawyers and the prosecution. The defense did not expect such a gift of fate, and the Prosecutor's Office changed qualifications. Initially, the billionaire was charged under part 3 of Art. 200.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Smuggling of Alcohol by an organized group). The crime is considered as an especially grave, and the article of the Criminal Code provides for punishment up to 12 years in prison.
Dmitry Mikhalchenko in court
However, judge Elena Lanskaya did not detect corpus delicti in the actions of the oligarch and the rest of the defendants of an organized group, therefore she re-qualified the crime to a softer one - part 2 of Art. 200.2 (Smuggling by prior agreement).
But due to the amendments to the Criminal Code regarding the terms of punishment for economic criminals, the time spent in custody before the sentence enters into force equals day to one day and a half. Thus, the head of the Forum holding, arrested in March 2016, may be released on March 29, 2019, since he spent more than four years in custody.
The months will be spent on appeal. The General Prosecutor’s Office (the state prosecution requested ten years of imprisonment in a high-security penal colony for Mikhalchenko) will file a petition. The delivery of the case to the Moscow City Court, the appointment of the hearings and the meeting will take just the remaining 2-3 months. These days will be counted as expected – a day for one day and a half.
According to the investigation, billionaire Dmitry Mikhalchenko and Boris Korevsky, the head of the security service of the Forum holding company, were engaged in smuggling elite alcohol. So, in particular, the oligarch, together with Anatoly Kindzersky and general director of the Southeast Trading Company Ilya Pichko, imported elite alcohol into the Russian Federation, under the guise of building sealant. Alcohol was intended for restaurants of Mikhalchenko. All participants in the criminal case were charged with Alcohol Smuggling by an organized group.
We have to understand how the defense was shocked after the announcement of the verdict because no one expected such a decision. At the very beginning, the process almost ‘spring a leakage' when ' the billionaire declared his desire to confess. Such an impulse shocked the defense team, which managed to win to virtue.
However, the oligarch even rejected his previous testimony, telling the court that he is innocent and asks the court to render an acquittal. Recall that the businessman initially pleaded guilty to smuggling and categorically denied participation in an organized group.
Step to freedom
Most may object that the former billionaire faces more severe accusation of creating an organized criminal community. But in fact, everything is not so gloomy. The case of the Baltstroy company is being investigated, and Dmitry Mikhalchenko is charged under Art. 210 of the Criminal Code.
At the moment, the preliminary investigation of the Baltstroy case is over. All defendants, seven people, have reviewed the materials of the case, so, they are protected by Art. 217 Code of Criminal Procedure. According to this article, the defendant and his lawyer are given the opportunity to study a criminal case, including separately. If there are several defendants, the volumes of the criminal case are transferred to them by the investigator sequentially.
Thus, there are enough defendants, a multivolume case; some volumes are classified as top secret. Therefore, the investigation does not expect that lawyers will study everything “in a month.” And while the defense is getting acquainted with the materials, the inquiry will not be able to make any arrests either. No investigative actions are taken at this stage. But the investigators also will not have time to terminate the criminal case and send it to the court to arrest the disgraced oligarch again.
Thus, Dmitry Mikhalchenko will be released already in early April. Until the Baltstroy company begins, even the wizard will not be able to send the businessman back to the detention center. After all, investigators will have to quickly initiate a new criminal case, with another charge, approve it and go to court with a new petition for arrest. The investigation has neither time nor desire.
According to sources, FSB officers who provide operational support within the case against the head of the Forum holding company did not preict the sentence.
Although they were surprised by the decision of the court, they were indifferent to it and did not supervise the situation because the ultimate goal of this criminal case was achieved long before the sentencing. The oligarch lost port of Bronka. As people say, “the criminal case was completed.”
Initially, many expressed the unfounded assumption that the price of freedom for Mikhalchenko is his port of Bronka. Today, Bronka, as well as the rest of the business, are assigned to the family of FSO ormer Head Murovykh and retired KGB General Nikolay Negodov. The president of the Forum holding has lost almost all of his assets. Business circles expressed more harshly. They say that "he was robbed by those who brought these elite cognacs and wine, and humiliated by those with whom he worked for many years." The billionaire goes free with completely clean pockets.
Terminal and oligarch
During the billionaire’s stay in the remand prison, there were a lot of rumors about why the businessman left his 'favorite thing,' but it was a strategic step to protect the main asset or payment for freedom.
Port of Bronka
Today, as we know, a third of the container terminal of Bronka belongs to Lyudmila Murova, the wife of the former Head of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, General Evgeny Murov. A leading position in the company that owns Bronka is taken by grandson of the General Nikita Murov.
The MMPK Bronka project was approved in 2009. It was then that the Government of St. Petersburg decided to design and build a multifunctional sea transshipment complex (MMPK) at Bronka, on the outskirts of Lomonosov. The Forum holding company, in the person of the Feniks subsidiary, which has invested the project, erected a new terminal for the Saint Petersburg Sea Port.
But people who have become the beneficiaries of a new terminal are far from business. It’s one thing to own; it’s another thing to run a business and develop it. This circumstance today makes business circles give a cautious assessment of the prospects for the free life of Dmitry Mikhalchenko. They say, in particular, that it is entirely possible that he will not be given a real sentence in the second criminal case. After all, someone needs to manage Bronka. “Those who took away Bronka don't understand how this business works,” said on the sidelines, “they can wear epaulets, but they don't know how to earn money. Mikhalchenko can do it.”
In particular, they claim that the courageous behavior of the disgraced billionaire in prison only added respect to him in certain circles. Sources believe that the businessman will not be drawn into the covert struggle for the port to regain his own. But he will work and raise the Bronka only because he does not abandon profitable projects halfway. Thus, the story of the arrest and the court turns out to become an example of absurdity. It's one thing to take away the business and imprison its owner. But to seize, detain, release and force the same owner to develop it? The history does not face such a great war of power clans.