Spanish inquest against ‘Russian mafia’ drives leader of Solntsevskie gang to grave
The efforts taken by the Spanish prosecution in the framework of the once-sensational case against yet another ‘Russian mafia’ may go up in smoke. Operation Oligarch had started from high-profile arrests in 2017; now it falls into a recession. The Spanish media – that used to actively disseminate reports of the National Police Corps about the capture of new ‘Russian mafiosi’ – have lost all interest to that topic in six months. A year and a half later, primary suspect Arnold Spivakovsky charged with ties with Russian organized criminal groups suddenly died in Spain. The authorities took a break, while the local media totally ignored his death.
In total, 11 Russian citizens were arrested on September 26, 2017 – but only four of them have been remanded in custody: Alexander Grinberg, owner of Marbella Football Club; Oleg Kuznetsov, primary shareholder of Aguas Sierra de Mijas bottling plant; Sergei Dozhdev, one of the directors of that enterprise; and Arnold Spivakovsky, top manager of Sistema Joint Stock Financial Corporation. All the main suspects were later released on bails of €750 thousand – although, initially, their detention conditions hadn’t provided such a possibility.
Not a single Spanish media outlet has reported the death of the primary suspect. The National Police Corps also abstained from any official statements. Later, following a request from the Russian press, the Malaga Police Department has confirmed: “On March 2, a person identified as Arnold Spivakovsky was found dead in his home in Spain”.
The cause of his death will be announced after the forensic examination; however, it is already established that “there were no markings of foul play on the body”. Taking how reluctantly the Spanish authorities now report the progress of this case, no one can say when the assessment results could be published.
According to the operative information of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation, Arnold Arnoldovich Spivakovsky (Tamm), is a criminal ‘authority’; in the 1990s, he was one of the leaders of Solntsevskie organized criminal group. According to Interpol, his position in the gang criminal hierarchy was immediately below brothers Averin, Sergei Mikhailov, and Semen Mogilevich. Since the mid-1990s, Spivakovsky had held senior positions in a number of companies: Deputy General Director of Irbis (Snow Leopard) Customs Terminal, PR Consultant for Pavel Borodin, State Secretary of the Union of Russia and Belarus, Deputy General Director of Peking Hotel and Office Complex, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Cosmos Hotel Complex Open Joint Stock Company, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of VAO Intourist. At the time of his arrest in Spain, Spivakovsky was a top manager of Sokolsky DOK woodworking enterprise, a subdivision of Segezha Group forestry holding belonging to Sistema Joint Stock Financial Corporation. Arnold Spivakovsky does not have a criminal record – although he was repeatedly arrested in the 1990s together with other criminal ‘authorities’ of Solntsevskie gang. He was the primary suspect in a high-profile criminal case related to cocaine dealership in Dolls Strip Club in Moscow – but the court acquitted him in 2003. According to the Moscow criminal investigation structures, he was involved in the murder of Konstantin Georgiev (Kostya Osetin), Director of Peking Hotel and Office Complex.
Songstress Lolita, his former common-law partner, was the first to report the death of Spivakovsky in her Instagram.
“YOU have played the main role in my life... YOU... Consolatory words pronounced by other people are useless... I love all those loved by YOU on this Earth. Promise not to leave,” – she wrote and posted a photo of Spivakovsky on a wave runner without specifying his name.
Later Lolita wrote that Spivakovsky “had taken hard” the prohibition to leave Spain,. According to her, during the investigation, his son was born in Russia – and Arnold had never seen him. Other sad events occurred as well.
“During this period, his father died, mother got sick, and it was a painful blow for him and his heart. I think, he had a severe depression because of the longing for his relatives and homeland. And, of course, he missed the little child born without him and celebrating the first birthday without him,” – Lolita told in an interview to Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper.
Arnold Spivakovsky and Lolita
On March 20, Arnold Spivakovsky was buried on Troekurovskoe Cemetery in Moscow. Producer Viktor Drobysh, businessman Alimzhan Tokhtakhunov (Taiwanchik), and songstress Lolita came to pay him the last respects. According to the friends and relatives, Spivakovsky died from heart attack – his organism could not withstand a drastic weight loss amid the stress. There were some 20 funeral wreaths on his grave: “To dear friend Arnold from the Allegrov family”, “Remember you. Alexander Rosenbaum”. “From colleagues. Intourist”, “From Maria Rasputina and Viktor”, etc.
Funeral of Spivakovsky
Another suspect detained in the course of Operation Oligarch – Alexander Grinberg, former owner and ex-President of Marbella FC, – lost 20 kilograms in the Alhaurín de la Torre prison. In February 2018, he was released on bail as well. In an interview to El Espanol, Grinberg said that the day of arrest "was the most difficult in his life – not because of the fear, but because of the sense of unfairness".
According to the law enforcement authorities, the Russian businessmen were purchasing ruined or bankrupt businesses in Costa del Sol for next to nothing and injected into them dozens of millions of euros belonging to Russian organized groups. Alexander Grinberg and Oleg Kuznetsov – the official owners of the majority of the suspicious assets – had acted as a cover, while Arnold Spivakovsky (Tamm) supervised the money laundering scheme on behalf of Solntsevskie gang. By the way, Guardia Civil considered his arrest its main achievement in the framework of Operation Oligarch.
"Those who know me in Russia and Spain are well aware that this is a lie. When I decided to settle here, I asked my lawyers to thoroughly oversee the tax remittance and all required documents in order to comply with the laws. All my monies are legitimate," – Grinberg says. According to the businessman, in 2008, he has chosen Spain as a place for his business and residence because he had fallen in love with the country during previous visits as a tourist.
"The acquisition of Marbella FC was not coincidental. The club was on the verge of disintegration. A friend told me that it was offered for sale. I always was a big football fan. When my wife became aware of this purchase, she has nearly kicked me out of the house. She claimed that I had invested too much without gaining any profit. I explained to her that this was a long-term investment; it had to bring us money sometime in the future," – Grinberg claims.
The businessman does not deny that he was familiar with Spivakovsky – but insists that they had no joint business affairs.
Grave of Spivakovsky
“Yes, I have met him here, in Marbella, three or four years ago. But I had no idea who was he. I am a well-known businessman in my country – but had never heard of Arnold Tamm. He was just an acquaintance – not a friend. I maintain ties with many Russian people here,” – Grinberg says. The investigation believes that they had plenty of good time together in Spain – at parties, on luxury yachts, and in brothels. To prove the sustainable ties between Grinberg and Spivakovsky, the Spanish prosecution has presented some 12 thousand wiretapped telephone conversations. “My lawyers reviewed these conversations. But the records contain no evidence against me. Spain spent a lot of money on this special operation, including my arrest, – but I had done nothing wrong. Arnold Tamm is not mentioned in the wiretapped conversations,” – Grinberg states.
When asked about the source of a sum in the amount of €750 thousand posted as the bail – at that time, all his assets were seized and accounts blocked – Grinberg responded that €200 thousand were provided by his daughter and the rest of the money – by a friend who, unfortunately, later died while skiing. The name of this friend was not disclosed, but, apparently, it was Georgy Gens, primary shareholder of Lanit Group of Companies, who died in April 2018 in Kamchatka where he was alpine skiing.
In October 2017, immediately after the mass arrests in Spain, Philippe Gens, Lanit Vice President and son of the company’s founder, became the owner of Terminal-Bezopasnost’ (Terminal-Security) and Terminal-Bastion private security companies. Earlier, these companies had belonged to a group of businessmen affiliated with football, including Alexander Grinberg, Russian football agent Oleg Artemov, and Aleksei Ryskin, Sports Director of FC Rostov.
In November 2018, Aleksander Grinberg sold Marbella FC. Its new owner is Best of You, a well-known Madrid-based sports company, while its new investor is from China. Grinberg does not disclose the sale price.
“Given the situation, it was very difficult, both physically and mentally, to continue working. After all, I sustained significant losses; funds on my accounts are blocked. The case is progressing at a sluggish pace. The attorneys beat heads against the wall – no one is examining our submissions. All these factors have led to such a decision,” – Grinberg explains. Later, the businessman admitted that he still owns 22% of the company's shares – but is not involved in the football club management anymore.
Arrest of Grinberg
Taking the circumstances, it would be really difficult for the Spanish prosecution to continue pursuing its inquest in the aftermath of Operation Oligarch. Even if the indictment is ultimately submitted to the court, the easiest option would be to put all the blame on late Spivakovsky. The plans of his relatives are unknown yet. The Spanish authorities haven’t officially ceased the prosecution of one of the leaders of Solntsevskie organized criminal group after his death. Overall, this inquest may share the fate of many other high-profile cases against ‘Russian mafia’: huge sums of money, well-known names, and grievous charges in the beginning – and a total failure in the court following a never-ending investigation.
The Prosecutor General's Office had earlier accused the Moscow region’s ex-official of exceeding official authority, taking a bribe on an especially large scale, and forgery, and demanded to seize assets worth of 9 billion rubles ($135 million) from him.