Co-owner of Cartier boutique accused of creating criminal community

Co-owner of Cartier boutique accused of creating criminal community
Dmitry Zarubin Photo: Valery Levitin / Kommersant

The case of clothes smuggling has been completed.

As it became known to Kommersant, the Investigative Committee completed the investigation into the high-profile criminal case against businessman Dmitry Zarubin, the co-owner of the Cartier boutique, who is accused of creating an organized criminal community engaged in smuggling of clothes. The investigation estimates the damage done to the amount of about 650 million rubles ($10.9m). The businessman himself insists on his innocence, and his lawyer Yevgeny Tonkov complains about the violations committed by the investigation to various legal authorities, including the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation.

St. Petersburg businessman Dmitry Zarubin became widely known in 2010, after the opening ceremony of the four-story Cartier boutique on the Moika River embankment, which was attended by actress Demi Moore. However, several years later his name was mentioned in the media in a different context – as the victim in the criminal case of against a resident of the Leningrad Region, Vitaly Kovalev, who organized the attempt on Dmitry Zarubin, as well as the murder of the rector of the St. Petersburg State University of Service and Economics, Alexander Viktorov.

In September 2015, the Investigative Committee showed interest in Dmitry Zarubin personally: he was detained within the criminal case initiated under Art. 194 of the Criminal Code (Evasion from payment of customs payments collected from organizations). After the searches in his boutique and home, the businessman was sent to Moscow, where the court authorized his arrest. It should be noted that, together with the entrepreneur, his sister, who at that time was a nursing mother, was detained. In total, 20 people were brought to criminal responsibility within this case.

According to investigators, between November 2014 and September 2015, two importers, Perspektiva LLC and Kontinent LLC, received clothes that were declared as cheap building materials. As follows from the case file, Perspektiva underpaid 137 million rubles, and Kontinent – 511 million rubles for the import of goods.

During the investigation, the Investigative Committee initiated a new criminal case, this time, under art. 210 Criminal Code (Creation of a Criminal Community) and charged Dmitry Zarubin as the creator and leader of this community.

Now, as the entrepreneur’s lawyer, Yevgeny Tonkov, told Kommersant, the investigation of this criminal case has been completed, and the procedure of familiarization with the materials collected by the Committee has begun. By this time, one of the defendants died of a heart attack, 12 people remain in custody, including three women. After the announcement of the completion of the investigation, the defendants waived their right to acquaint themselves with the materials and asked to sign documents about the completion of this procedure and to send the case to the court as soon as possible. However, the investigation, according to lawyer Tonkov, decided to forcefully acquaint the defendants with the collected evidence. "The 175 volumes are now being read out aloud; I believe a new kind of torture was invented. The investigators promised us to do reading for a year and a half or two," Yevgeny Tonkov said to Kommersant.

However, after numerous complaints of the defendants and their lawyers, the Moscow City Court found this practice illegal, pointing to this at the next extension of the arrest of the accused. "We expect that now the investigation must soon send the case to the prosecutor's office for approval of the indictment," said Mr. Tonkov. In addition, the defender filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation against the inadmissibility of compulsory acquaintance with the materials of the case as not in conformity with the Constitution of the Russian Federation. "Unfortunately, the criminal procedural legislation does not give either the accused or the defender legal leverage to force the investigation to submit the collected materials as soon as possible," the lawyer sums it up.

According to Kommersant's information, none of the 19 defendants pleads guilty to either participating in the criminal community or evading customs payments. At the same time, two persons of interest, who held the position of nominee directors of Perpektiva and Kontinent, admit guilt only in the fact that they agreed to become fictitious managers of these companies. It should be noted that both companies did not belong to the alleged creator and head of the FSO, Dmitry Zarubin, but, according to the investigation, it was him who found the nominal directors for them.

"For the first time in Russian investigative practice, the case of a criminal community engaged in evasion from payment of customs fees is being investigated, but there is no evidence to support this. That is why now the Investigative Committee is delaying the procedure of acquaintance, while trying to collect at least some materials that support its version," Yevgeny Tonkov told Kommersant.

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