Spain’s court not convinced with wiretap and documents in ‘Russian mafia’ case

Spain’s court not convinced with wiretap and documents in ‘Russian mafia’ case
Vladislav Reznik and his spouse in court Photo: Elmundo.es

The prosecutor's office has not gathered sufficient evidence to confirm the allegations.

Spain’s National Criminal Chamber found that the prosecutor's office had not managed to provide sufficient evidence of involving the defendants of the ‘Russian mafia’ case in criminal networks. “It was not proved that the accused belonged to Tambovsko-Malyshevskaya organized crime group that dealt with the laundering of money obtained by illegal means.” The judgment stated. According to the Court, it was not proved that during the period from 1996 to 2008, the accused had been providing their assistance to get a benefit in Spain or manage the capital and assets that, according to the prosecutor's office, came from the activities of Tambovsko-Malyshevskaya organized crime group. The fact that money comes from offshore companies does not necessarily signify that it had been obtained by illegal means. Some of the accused - realtors being an example - who worked with real estate transactions just carried out their work and “could not contribute to those who took part in violation of law.” 

Thus, the court issued a verdict of not guilty as to 17 of the accused. The verdict is to be moved for a new trial. 

According to Rosbalt’s sources, the ‘game changer’ in court hearings was the moment when the prosecutor's office started providing 10-year-old documents that were received from Russia and allegedly demonstrated the link between some of the accused and the organized crime. However, more recent documents from Russia stating that the previous ones contradicted the reality were rendered to the court. The lawyers linked the fact that the old documents (that had provided the basis for the accusations) emerged with Russia’s business wars and the competitors’ willingness to blacken their clients. As a result, the court excluded this murky evidence from the case and concluded that the results of the wiretap were insufficient to accuse them of involving in malpractice. On the wiretap, the criminals who “have ties with KGB-FSB” discuss their criminal activities and mention their accomplices by names (Sasha, Tolik, Slava). However, last names are not mentioned on the wiretap - the fact that allegedly severely hampered the understanding of the situation. 

It is to be recalled that the Troyka operation focused on fighting against ‘Russian mafia’ members took place in 2008. Aleksander Malyshev and Gennady Petrov, the leaders of the Tambovsko-Malyshevskaya organized crime group, were detained following the operation. They were accused of money laundering through real estate purchase in Spain. The case comprised charges of rogue firms founded in the provinces of Alicante, Barcelona, Malaga, and Majorca. Russian organized crime groups’ representatives built extensive fraudulent schemes related to real estate. These schemes were centered on a repetitive buy and sell of apartments (through the rogue firms) with an ever-rising price. This was done to launder money obtained during drug smuggling, arms trading, and ‘connections trading’. ‘Clean’ money went to Panama or Liechtenstein after these firms. 

The prosecutor's office brought accusations against 27 persons, including Russian high-ranking siloviki and officials, following the investigation. ‘Russian mafia’ leaders Aleksander Malyshev, Gennady Petrov, Leonid Khristoforov, Yury Salikov have long since left Spain and fled to their motherland. The rest of the participants with well-known last names in Russia are only called “having ties to the accused,” and not drawn to the case. Among them, the Spain’s prosecutor's office mentioned Aleksander Bastrykin, a head of Russia’s Investigative Committee, Anatoly Serdyukov, a former Minister of Defence, Viktor Zubkov, a former Russia’s PM, Boris Gryzlov, a former State Duma speaker, Vladislav Reznik, the fourth convocation of the State Duma member, Colonel General Nikolay Aulov, a former deputy director of the Federal Drug Control Service, Leonid Rayman, a former Minister of Communications, Igor Sobolevsky, a former vice-chairman of Investigative Committee, Dmitry Kozak, a former deputy head of government, and others. 

The case came to trial in February, 2018, only. There were only 7 persons in the dock, including a former State Duma speaker Reznik only, out of all the influential figures. The rest of the ‘Russian mafia’ members had long since left Spain. According to Spanish law, the accused cannot be judged in absentia. 

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