"Russian mafia" in Spain: Will Tambovskie be prosecuted?
On June 28, 2016, six more Russians were arrested in Spain in the framework of so-called "Russian mafia case". The case is under investigation for several years already, but despite the recent arrests, it becomes more and more unlikely for the suspects to get real prison terms.
There is a international stereotype of "evil Russian mafia". Apparently, stereotypes do not arise without reason. For the last several months, a high-profile criminal case, involving arrests of the "Russian mafia", resounds throughout Spain (while the investigation continues for several years); according to the law enforcement, there are strong links between the "mafia" and high-ranked Russian officials.
The Spanish investigation believes that several enterprising criminals have left Russia in the 1990s and moved to Spain, where they continued same operations but at a larger scale. From racketeering and extortion, the criminal lords switched to complex, multi-step fraud schemes with real estate. These schemes included numerous purchases and sales of same apartments at increasing prices via dummy companies and were used for laundering money obtained from drug and weapon trafficking and "sales of connections". In a few years, the Russian "mafiosi" managed to construct an impressive scheme. The prosecution refers to dummy companies registered in Alicante, Barcelona, Málaga, and Majorca. After circulation between these firms, the ‘clean’ money were transferred to Panama or Liechtenstein.
To the moment, the Spanish law enforcement authorities have laid charges against 27 Russian citizens. In total, the Spanish Prosecutor’s Office is asking for 146 years in prison and 2.7 billion EURO in fines for the 27 suspects in the "Russian mafia case". This translates into some 5.5 years in jail and 100 million EURO in fines per person.
According to the investigation, the main masterminds and implementators of the illegal scheme are two Russian criminal lords: Gennady Petrov and Alexander Malyshev.
Alexander Malyshev is a former wrestler, although he does not have any awards. Has many friends among athletes. Has two criminal records: in 1977 was charged under Article 105 of the Criminal Code (Murder), and in 1984 under Article 109 (Infliction of death by negligence). Used to be a "thimblerigger on Sennoy market, worked under the cover of Kumarin’s gang and was nicknamed Malysh (Lad). Malyshev was never "crowned". Founded his own gang in the end of the 1980s and united several criminal groups under his leadership. Each group consisted of 50–250 persons; the overall strength of the gang was some 2000 people.
Gennady Petrov (named Gennadios in the criminal case) also has criminal records. In 1987, upon release from prison, became a member of Tambovsko-Malyshevskaya criminal group. Was arrested on September 5, 1992 but then released because witnesses have withdrawn their testimonies. In the 1990s became one of the most influential and authoritative gang members, combined criminal operations with business activities and political liaisons.
Another important gang member is Alexander Romanov, a prominent member of Taganskie criminal group and ex-director of the Moscow Distillery Cristall. Earlier Romanov used to work in the Tsentrobank and Rosneft Company. The criminal lord openly told about the seizure of the Moscow Distillery Cristall in one of his interviews: he had to use “submachine gunners and tactics learned in the 1990s”. Romanov was the director of the Moscow Distillery Cristall for almost 5 years; then he was charged with fraud (Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). Romanov was sentenced to 3.5 years behind bars and upon release moved to Spain to start a new life. As it turned out, his new life was not too different from the old one. After a 20-month investigation, Romanov was arrested, together with 8 accomplices, in his mansion in Majorca. Since 2013, the criminal lord remains in detention in Spain. Recently it became known that he has made a plea bargain with the investigation and admitted his involvement into money laundering.
Curiously enough, but the longstanding activities of the criminal lords and their illegal schemes are not the most interesting part of this story. The Spanish authorities claim that the criminal group had a "cover" in Russia, including high-ranked politicians and law enforcement structures.
FOR COURT EXAMINATION
THE PROSECUTOR, not referring to criminal liability, which, due to tax violations and false testimonies with regards to these offences, is addressed in a separate document, in accordance with the main legal cause, requires to publicize the Dossier and reminds of the need to continue the court proceedings according to the established procedure and use a simplified judicial procedure (Articles 779.1.4 and 780 of the Criminal Procedure Code), thus, initiating a legal action in order to lay charges against the following suspects:
1. Mr. Gennadios Vasilievich Petrov;
2. Ms. Elena Viktorovna Petrova;
3. Mr. Yuri Mikhailovich Salikov;
4. Ms. Marlene Barbara Salikova;
5. Mr. Leonid Khristoforov;
6. Ms. Svetlana Vasilieva;
7. Mr. Juan Antonio Untoriya Agustin;
8. Ms. Yulia Kazimirovna Ermolenko;
9. Mr. Vladislav Matusovich Reznik;
10. Ms. Diana Gindin;
11. Mr. Andrey Malenkovich;
12. Mr. Alexander Ivanovich Malyshev;
13. Ms. Alena Boyko;
14. Mr. Leonid Khazin;
15. Ms. Olga Solovieva;
16. Mr. Mikhail Rebo;
17. Mr. Ildar Mustafin
18. Ms. Leocardia Martin Garcia;
19. Mr. Ignacio Perdro Urkijo Sierra;
20. Mr. Julian Jesus Angulo Peres;
21. Ms. Irina Usova;
22. Ms. Zhanna Gavrilenkova;
23. Mr. Vadim Romanyuk;
24. Mr. Antonio de Fortuni Maines;
25. Mr. Francisco Okania Palma
26. Mr. Kirill Yudashev; and
27. Mr. Leonid Khazin.
The Spanish police believes that the following persons in Russia have links with the "Russian mafia": Alexander Bastrykin, Chairman of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR); Anatoly Serdyukov, former Defense Minister of Russia; Viktor Zubkov, former Prime Minister of Russia; Boris Gryzlov, former Speaker of the State Duma; Vladislav Reznik, Deputy of the State Duma for four terms, colonel general Nikolay Aulov, Deputy Director of the Federal Drug Control Service of the Russian Federation; Leonid Reiman, former Minister of Communications; Igor Sobolevsky, former Chairman of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, etc.
An important period in Petrov’s biography is related to his service in the Committee for State Security of the USSR (KGB) and connections established there. During the service, the future criminal lord has met Jose Alicias Sanza, a colonel of Spanish Centro Nacional de Inteligencia (National Intelligence Center), who later introduced him to Juan Antonio Untoriya Agustin a retired officer and lawyer, who, according to the investigation, is an accomplice to the fraud schemes used by the ‘Russian mafia’.
“Mr. Juan Antonio Untoriya has met Mr. Gennady Petrov in 1998 via his friend colonel Jose Alicias Sanza; they both studied in the Chief Military Academy and were majors that time. Mr. Alicias serves in the Spanish Centro Nacional de Inteligencia and had liaisons with Gennady Petrov, who served in KGB, while he was responsible for counter-intelligence in the Centro Superior de Informacion de la Defensa (CESID) (Superior Center for Information and Defense). This person told my client that he knows a big Russian entrepreneur, Gennady Petrov, who would like to settle in Spain and start a business in real estate and import and export of food products between Russia and Spain, and for this purpose, he needs a lawyer in Spain. … Mr. Reznik and Mr. Reiman, introduced by Mr. Petrov, were customers of my client”.
An extract from the speech delivered by lawyer Mario Martinez Peñalver.
Certain questions arise with regards to the investigation. The main evidence are records of telephone conversations between the suspects, collected for years. In these conversations, seasoned criminals "linked with KGB-FSB" blatantly and openly discuss all their criminal machinations, pronounce names of their accomplices (the same Sasha, Tolik, and Slava). It seems a little bit naive for experienced criminal lords to discuss such important affairs by phone, using same phone numbers for years.
From the other side, the law enforcement authorities say that the phone conversations never mentioned last names, which, allegedly, hampered their interpretation. Russian law enforcement authorities assisted the Spanish colleagues in this investigation, primarily, with information. In particular, Russian investigators clarified the complicated structure of Russian organized crime groups in the 1990s. The Spanish Prosecution refers to the information received from Moscow in its documents.
It is necessary to note that this is not the first legal action in Spain against the St. Petersburg criminal lords. First time they were detained by police back in 2008 in the framework of "Troika" operation.
Petrov, arrested in his villa in Majorca, was released six months later under the written pledge not to leave country; then he was allowed to go on vacation to St. Petersburg to visit his ill mother. He returned back to Spain, some time later went to Russia again for recovery of his health and never returned. Spanish authorities state that Petrov had a real possibility to make required arrangements and leave Spain relatively clean (after paying fines and confiscation of assets), but the criminal lord decided not to bother himself with nuances of the European justice system. Since then, Petrov is considered a person who has "fled from the Spanish justice". Malyshev returned to Russia shortly after Petrov.
The last arrest in the "Russian mafia case" occurred on June 28, 2016 in Tarragona (Catalonia region) located in the eastern part of the Iberian Peninsula. Six Russians, one Spaniard, and one Ukrainian were detained. The investigation believes that these persons belong to a criminal group which has already laundered some 62 million EURO in Spain.
Surprisingly, but this high-profile case has very vague perspectives. According to the most recent information, the money were transferred to Spain via banks, already "laundered", – while the purpose of the real estate machinations was to complicate any attempt to trace the funds. According to the Spanish legislation, if money arrive via a bank, it’s clean a priori (only cash amounts in bags and cases can be laundered). International warrants have been issued against main suspects in this case, including the alleged gang leader Petrov, – this is unpleasant, of course, but Russia does not extradite its citizens. In fact, they can be arrested only outside Russia – i.e. other countries are closed for the organized crime group members. In addition, they will lose all their property in Spain because the Spanish legislation allows confiscation of assets of persons hiding from the court. The arrest warrant against one of the most famous and high-ranked suspects – Vladislav Reznik – has been withdrawn due to a number of reasons: he holds a senior position in Russia, he provided a testimony by video link, his location is known.
The Spanish legislation does not allow to judge the suspects in absentia: the requested prison terms are too big. Maximal penalty for crimes that can be judged in absentia is 2 years, while the suspects face some 5.5 years per person. In other words, to clear their names of accusations, Petrov and his accomplices must arrive to the Spanish court; however, if they did not do so when left "for recovery", it’s unlikely that they decide to do this in the future.
Julio Martin Gomes, a Spanish criminal lawyer, believes that the Russians were allowed to leave the country on purpose: the money laundering case collapsed – so to avoid an acquittal verdict, the investigators ensured that the suspects will never appear in the court.
DocumentsThe letter of accusation over "Russian mafia" case
The prosecutors want the former Russian Federation Council member to go to prison for 14 years instead of 9 and pay a 500-million-ruble ($8.8 million) fine instead of 70 million rubles ($1.2 million).