Deposit Insurance Agency and ‘criminal duo’ of its First Deputy General Director Miroshnikov and colonel–billionaire Cherkalin 

Deposit Insurance Agency and ‘criminal duo’ of its First Deputy General Director Miroshnikov and colonel–billionaire Cherkalin
Photo: The CrimeRussia

Valery Miroshnikov, First Deputy General Director of the Deposit Insurance Agency (DIA), has fled Russia and intends to resign. Experts explain his escape by the arrest of FSB colonel Kirill Cherkalin charged with swindling amounting to 12 billion rubles ($191.4 million); Miroshnikov and Cherkalin had close ties. In addition, the high-ranked insurer was a friend of fugitive FSB general Viktor Voronin – who had assisted to late banker Vladimir Kogan in the resolution of Bank UralSib and then relocated to Israel. The CrimeRussia reviewed operations of the ‘unsinkable’ Deposit Insurance Agency and its top manager Valery Miroshnikov – as well as his extensive connections actively used in the course of liquidation of Russian banks. The main question is: why is the Central Bank of Russia turning a blind eye to suspicious actions of the DIA?

Problems in the ‘insurance domain’

49-year-old Valery Miroshnikov, a top manager of the Deposit Insurance Agency, has fled Russia immediately after the arrest of Kirill Cherkalin, colonel of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation and ex-Head of a division at the “K” Directorate supervising banks, pension funds, and insurance companies, on April 25, 2019. Initially, Miroshnikov had resided with his family in Australia and then relocated to Germany – allegedly, to treat his shoulder injured while playing tennis.

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Валерий Мирошников находится за границей 

On July 10, TASS News Agency reported that Miroshnikov is going to step down from his post in the DIA for health reasons. In other words, the German medicine was unable to help him. The DIA Press Service confirmed the voluntary resignation of the top manager; Andrei Mel’nikov, who was a Deputy General Director of the DIA up until 2016, is going to supersede Miroshnikov on July 22.

Andrei Mel’nikov has been working in the DIA since its creation in 2004; he had supervised deposit insurance matters, including insurance payout, and the Crimean Fund for Depositor Protection. In 2016–2017, he was the Minister of Economic Development of the Republic of Crimea; then became a Vice President of the Association of Regional Banks of Russia. Now Mel’nikov returns to the DIA – the state corporation where he has begun his banking career.

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Andrei Mel’nikov returns to the DIA

According to the DIA Press Service, “Andrei Mel’nikov will supervise the liquidation of credit organizations”. No comments were provided in relation to the resignation of Miroshnikov. Mel’nikov abstains from any statements as well. The name of Valery Miroshnikov is still shown on the official DIA web site.

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According to the official DIA web site, Valery Miroshnikov still holds his position

 

In a telephone interview to Kommersant newspaper, Miroshnikov said that he has decided to leave the DIA a long time ago, and now he is taking a vacation. He hasn’t explained why his vacation is presented as resignation, and another person is going to be appointed to his position. This implies that the DIA in general and Miroshnikov in particular have some problems.

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The DIA does not comment on the resignation of Miroshnikov

Miroshnikov and “K” Directorate

 

According to insiders, the law enforcement authorities had already summoned Valery Miroshnikov for questioning in the framework of the case against colonel Kirill Cherkalin: their correspondence was found on the telephone of the detained FSB officer. Of course, it is weird that seasoned operative Cherkalin had used his telephone for such a correspondence and hasn’t deleted it. Cherkalin and Miroshnikov reportedly had friendly ties. Taking that the first one was in charge of the Banking Department of “K” Directorate of the FSB Economic Security Service, while the latter one had supervised the liquidation of banks by the DIA, they likely had plenty of interesting topics to discuss.

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Colonel Cherkalin was a friend of Valery Miroshnikov

For instance, they could privately discuss the appointment of certain insolvency administrators to certain financial institutions and reinstatement of revoked banking licenses for a reward. Shortly before the revocation of banking licenses, friends Miroshnikov and Cherkalin had offered the credit organizations to solve their problems and charged for this service at least 30% of the siphoned off funds. A banker who had dealt with Cherkalin and Miroshnikov told The Bell and Proekt portals that people affiliated with the DIA had allegedly approached him and demanded $200 million for the termination of criminal proceedings instituted against the bank management for embezzlements of funds. “They had promised to settle the bank’s problems,” – the banker said and emphasized that Valery Miroshnikov was directly involved in that.

Apparently, there were plenty of such episodes in the biographies of the detained FSB colonel and his fugitive partner in the criminal schemes. After the arrest of Kirill Cherkalin, bankers affected by his operations started gladly sharing with the investigators details of their problems caused by the revocation of their licenses or threats to revoke those. According to sources close to the investigation, Valery Miroshnikov is mentioned in the criminal case against colonel Cherkalin; however, his procedural status is unknown yet because the operatives cannot question him.

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The name of Miroshnikov is mentioned in the case against colonel Cherkalin

In the meantime, the investigation intends to check Miroshnikov for complicity in the provision of preferences to Aleksei Khotin, the former owner of Jugra Bank, during the bankruptcy of that bank. To refresh background: in spring 2019, a criminal was instituted against Khotin, the majority stakeholder of Jugra Bank, under part 4 of Article 160 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (misappropriation or embezzlement). Khotin is charged with embezzlement of 7.5 billion rubles ($119.3 million) from Jugra Bank. The Basmanny District Court of Moscow placed Khotin under home arrest. The case file includes a letter from the Governor of the Bank of Russia, a letter from the DIA, and a criminal complaint from an undisclosed bank client. After the revocation of the Jugra Bank’s license, the DIA had to pay a record-breaking sum of 174.7 billion rubles ($2.8 billion) to its clients. At that time, the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation has supported Jugra Bank – the watchdog authority hadn’t identified any violations of the regulations.

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Businessman Aleksei Khotin is currently under home arrest

In December 2018, Vektor Prava Limited Liability Company has won a tender and became the official legal advisor to Jugra Bank. This law firm servicing bankruptcies of credit organizations is authorized by the DIA. According to sources familiar with the investigation, the law enforcement authorities are currently checking whether Vektor Prava had taken sufficient efforts in the interest of the DIA.

The company was incorporated in 2013; in 2016, it became a micro-enterprise with a charter capital of 10 thousand rubles ($160); its official owner is Cyprus-based Sardinel Holding Ltd. offshore company.

In June 2017, businessman Vladimir Akaev, a member of the Board of Directors of FundServiceBank Joint Stock Company and the owner of Troika Asset Management Limited Liability Company, became an advisor to the Directorate of the Vektor Prava Limited Liability Company; according to sources, Akaev had close friendly ties with Cherkalin and Miroshnikov.

Seasoned liquidator

In 1996, Moscow native Valery Miroshnikov has graduated with honor from the All-Russia Correspondence Financial and Economic Institute with the major in “finance and credit” and became an economist. Back in 1993, he got a job at the Central Bank of Russia and became an officer of the General Administration for Inspection of Commercial Banks (in other words, he became an inspector three years before graduating from the institute). Valery Miroshnikov was directly involved in audits of credit organizations, was in charge of inspections, and supervised interim administrations imposed to administer financial institutions. In 1996, he was transferred to the Bank Resolution Department. Again: he received the profile education only in 1996.

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Miroshnikov became employed with the Bank of Russia while being a student

In 1999, talented banker Valery Miroshnikov became a Deputy General Director of the Agency for Restructuring Credit Organizations. This state corporation was responsible for managing the fallout from the bank crisis and improvement of solvency of socially important federal and regional banks. In 2004, the state corporation was renamed into the Deposit Insurance Agency, and Miroshnikov became its Deputy General Director. In May 2005, he was appointed the First Deputy General Director of the DIA and supervised the liquidation of credit organizations. In addition, Valery Miroshnikov participated in the preparation of some federal laws regulating the bank sphere, including the Law On Restructuring Credit Organizations, Law On Insolvency (Bankruptcy), and Law on Insurance of Individual’s Deposits in Russian Banks. Overall, Miroshnikov possesses extensive experience in the liquidation of banks and many other spheres. He was involved in the creation of the deposit insurance system in Russia and development of bank resolution and liquidation mechanisms.

Unsinkable agency

Valery Miroshnikov had actively used his experience; as a result, the reputation of the DIA is far from perfect. Those who had interacted with this organization note that the DIA operates by its own laws, arbitrarily administers assets of the resolved banks, appoints its lawyers and administrators, and does not care about hoodwinked clients. The DIA has been enshrouded in scandals for many years – but all criminal cases mysteriously fall into oblivion.

For instance, in September 2012, operatives of the Main Directorate of Economic Security and Combating the Corruption of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation have detained DIA officer Mikhail Bashmakov (Bashmak (Boot)), insolvency administrator of Moskovsky Kapital Commercial Bank, suspected of complicity in the fraudulent bankruptcy of this bank and other machinations. Interestingly, all credit organization where financial expert Bashmakov had appeared, were liquidated shortly after his arrival.

The DIA had repeatedly appointed him the insolvency administrator; Bashmakov was involved in the liquidation of Legprombank Commercial Bank Limited Liability Company, Granit Joint Stock Commercial Bank, Inbankprodukt Joint Stock Commercial Bank, Joint Stock Commercial Bank of Investments and Technologies Open Joint Stock Company; Moskovsky Kapital Commercial Bank Limited Liability Company, Povolzhsky Nemetsky Bank Closed Joint Stock Company, Elektronika Joint Stock Commercial Bank, Premier MAKB Closed Joint Stock Company, Slavyansky Bank Joint Stock Commercial Bank Closed Joint Stock Company, AMT Bank Commercial Bank. The DIA, in the person of its First General Deputy Director Valery Miroshnikov has rallied to his defense.

The investigation established that Mikhail Bashmakov and the DIA had recovered the assets of debtors to bankrupt banks from their official guarantors; as a result, Cyprus-based Vergillios LMS Limited offshore company, the legal successor of Moskovsky Kapital Commercial Bank, became the owner of a number of cultural heritage objects constituting the immovable property of the state. It is known that Bashmakov had tried to embezzle hundreds of such objects with a total value of some 10 billion rubles ($159.5 million). For instance, in September 2012, the Moscow Arbitration Court dismisses a lawsuit of Vergillios LMS Limited claiming several historical buildings in Moscow.

The name of Valery Miroshnikov was also mentioned in that case. But neither him nor Bashmakov were prosecuted: the mighty state corporation turned out to be stronger than the law enforcement authorities.

A criminal case instituted in 2009 against 24-year-old Ekaterina Merzlyakova, Chief Expert of the DIA, has also ended in nothing: she avoided criminal liability for accepting a bribe in the amount of €24 thousand for the return of a large sum from a safety deposit box of a bankrupt bank. The investigation possessed hard evidence of her guilt, including testimonies of the complainants, records of conversations, etc. But the ‘high patrons’ have arranged the collapse of the case against Merzlyakova – and she continued working in the DIA as its Chief Expert without any restrictions.

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Operational footage, 2009  

In 2014, DIA officer Maiya Chudutova, a partner at Yakovlev & Partners Law Group, was charged under Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (swindling committed by an organized group or an especially large scale); she faced up to ten years behind bars. Maiya Chudutova was a Deputy Director for Corporate Law and Legal Support for Banking Operations of Yakovlev & Partners Law Group – that had worked in close collaboration with the DIA. Clients were offered assistance in solving issues with the DIA via Chudutova.

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Maiya Chudutova avoided criminal liability

The investigators had tried to question Maiya Chudutova for a long time; at some point, she was found and a summons was served on her. Still, the expert managed to flee from justice. Andrei Yakovlev, Founder and Managing Partner of Yakovlev & Partners Law Group, has only made a helpless gesture, and the criminal case was later shuffled under the rug.

The DIA cart remains there still

We have provided just a few examples of DIA operations. Their real number is massively more. Hoodwinked clients had staged pickets, rallies, and mass protests against actions of the DIA for many years – but in vain.

For instance, many clients lost their money after the revocation of the license of Transenergobank in fall 2012 – but the DIA has ruled not to pay insurance indemnity to them. The defrauded clients staged a number of single-person pickets against the corruption in the DIA – but without any result. Thee are plenty of similar examples throughout the country.

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Public protests against actions of the DIA

Letters to Vladimir Putin complaining about the lawlessness of the Bank of Russia and DIA with regards to hoodwinked clients can be found on the web site “Letters to the President of the Russian Federation”.

In February 2018, thousands of Russian citizens were affected by the DIA’s requirement to return funds withdrawn from their accounts to collapsed banks. The Union of Depositors of Russia joined the protest campaign. The people had asked to recognize the actions of the DIA in the field of bank regulation illegal. But the situation hasn’t changed since then: the DIA continues its operations and plans for the future. In particular, the agency is reforming the liquidation procedure for collapsed banks with the purpose to transform sales of assets of liquidated banks into Dutch auctions. In addition, the DIA intends to perform the insolvency administration function immediately after the banking license revocation in order to expedite the bankruptcy.

“In 1.5 years, the agency intends to stop using services of law firms retained for liquidation of banks and switch to internal legal support. This includes the recruitment of 1500 lawyers,” – Yuri Isaev, General Director of the Deposit Insurance Agency, said a few days ago.

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Yuri Isaev, General Director of the Deposit Insurance Agency

In other words, the DIA has ambitious plans. However, according to some sources, in March 2019, the endless flow of complaints has finally attracted the attention of Elvira Nabiullina, Governor of the Bank of Russia, and she expressed interest to the deeds of insurers under the leadership of Valery Miroshnikov. But most probably, all wrongdoings would be attributed to the fugitive top manager – and the agency continues its operations.

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Elvira Nabiullina, Governor of the Bank of Russia

Colonel Cherkalin and general Voronin

Colonel–billionaire Kirill Cherkalin is believed to be a ‘high patron’ of Valery Miroshnikov – in other words, the FSB supervisor of the struggle against financial crimes had covered up an insurer committing such crimes.

According to the official dossier of Kirill Cherkalin, “the colonel was involved, together with his subordinates, in the investigation of dozens of criminal cases pertaining to banking machinations. The most notable such case is the prosecution of Sergei Viktorovich Pugachev, a former member of the Council of the Federation and the founder and owner of International Industrial Bank, charged in absentia under part 4 of Article 160 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (misappropriation or embezzlement on an especially large scale). Colonel Cherkalin had actively collaborated with the Bank of Russia, Deposit Insurance Agency, and Federal Financial Monitoring Service (Rosfinmonitoring); this enabled them to prosecute bankers not only in Russia – but abroad, too. The DIA has recovered from Pugachev 75 billion rubles ($1.2 billion) through arbitration court action. It has also filed similar lawsuits against him in France – but the DIA’s claims were dismissed”.

Banker Pugachev left Russia back in 2011. A couple of days ago, he told in an interview to Forbes that Valery Miroshnikov had extorted $350 million from him. Mikhail Bashmakov was also involved in that story: in the course of negotiations: Sergei Pugachev has rejected a proposal made by Bashmakov to pay a 10% ‘kickback’ from the sale of his shipbuilding assets.

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Banker Pugachev accused Miroshnikov of extortion

“...I rejected and requested to speak with Miroshnikov personally – but hadn’t attended the negotiations. Then Bashmakov allegedly had a telephone conversation with the governmental manager – and the tone of the conversation changed: the negotiators started threatening the banker with their connections in the FSB, criminal cases, and seizures of personal assets. Ultimately, all the threats were carried out,” – Pugachev told to Forbes.

In 2012, colonel Kirill Cherkalin has contacted the banker and informed him of the forthcoming criminal prosecution. According to Pugachev, Cherkalin had offered him to annul the criminal proceedings in exchange for $20 million. After the refusal of Pugachev, Cherkalin and Miroshnikov have joined their efforts; as a result, the banker became a suspect in the criminal case pertaining to the bankruptcy of International Industrial Bank.

Back in 2011, Pugachev has submitted in France a criminal complaint about the extortion and murder threats received from Bashmakov and Miroshnikov. A criminal case was instituted in 2013; it is still under investigation. In 2014, in the course of the litigation in the High Court of London – Pugachev had disputed the seizure of his assets by the DIA – he has openly charged Miroshnikov with extortion. According to Pugachev, Miroshnikov had tried to negotiate with him the withdrawal of the criminal complaint.

The active collaboration of Kirill Cherkalin with the DIA, combined with his friendly ties with Valery Miroshnikov, the actual head of the state corporation, implies that the FSB colonel and top insures had plenty of joint criminal ‘business projects’. Hopefully, the investigation sorts the things out even if Miroshnikov never returns to Russia (which is quite possible).

Finally, it is necessary to note that fugitive Valery Miroshnikov is an old friend of general Viktor Voronin. ex-Head of “K” Directorate of the FSB. As The CrimeRussia wrote earlier, after his controversial resignation from the FSB, – where he had supervised the banking industry of Russia for almost 10 years – Voronin was in charge of the Security Service of Bank UralSib controlled by late Vladimir Kogan (he died on June 20, 2019).

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Fugitive FSB general Viktor Voronin is an old friend of Miroshnikov

Late banker Vladimir Kogan was the first private turnaround manager in Russia; and his ‘right hand’ Viktor Voronin had lobbied the transfer of Bank UralSib to the Deposit Insurance Agency State Corporation. The relocation of Voronin to Israel (also on the pretext of medical treatment) after the death of his boss has attracted to him the close attention of the Russian law enforcement authorities.

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