Dagestan: customs and traffic police officers’ OCC leader behind duty evasion scheme to be tried
The damage from Akhmed Onzholov’s actions was at least 119 million rubles ($1.78 million).
The Sovetsky Court of Makhachkala will consider the criminal case against former officer of Dagestan Customs Office, Akhmed Onzholov, who is accused of creating an organized crime community through the use of his official position and non-payment of customs duties (part 3 of Art. 210 and part 4 of Art. 194 of the Russian Criminal Code), Kommersant reports. According to the investigation, Onzholov and his accomplices had come up with a scheme for evading customs payments, as a result of which the budget was underfunded by at least 119 million rubles of duties for expensive foreign cars.
The case of Onzholov will be considered using a special procedure, since he has concluded a pre-trial agreement on cooperation with the investigation by pleading guilty and giving important testimony about the activities of the OCC.
The ICR Main Investigations Directorate in the North Caucasus began to investigate into the case in June 2015. The investigation found out that the crime community, members of which were officers of the Makhachkala customs post, including its head and first deputy, employees of the MIA State Road Traffic Safety Inspectorate’s driver and vehicle licensing division in Kaspiysk, as well as “other participants” from among the residents of the Republic, was created by Akhmed Onzholov and another resident of Dagestan in 2012. According to the case file, in the period from 2012 to 2014, OCC members illegally issued vehicle certificates of ownership for 90 expensive cars without paying customs duties that are levied on individuals when declaring transport, which is not a “commodity of the Customs Union of the Eurasian Economic Community.” The damage amounted to approximately 119 million rubles.
The defendants in the case are 13 persons, including official bodies of the driver and vehicle licensing division Ibragim Magomedov and Abdul Oshukov, as well as inspection officers Aliev and Tovliev. According to the investigation, the crime community also included representatives of the Makhachkala customs post Gamzatek Gamzatov, Aziz Suleymanov, Askandar Bilalov and Magomed Akhaev, as well 4 citizens of the Republic and other unidentified parties. A source close to the investigation told Kommersant all members of the crime community worked under heavy security, so the gang could exist for a long time.
The scheme that members of the crime community used in most cases was based on the fact that if goods are imported to the territory of the Customs Union from other countries and released from bond, they can be shifted within the Union customs free. Thus, they gave documents to the Makhachkala customs post; according to the papers, the car was bought in Kazakhstan or Belarus, and its customs payments had allegedly been paid. Applications related to registration were written by straw persons who had never even seen the cars described in the documents. With that, the foreign car could still be outside the Union at the time: in Europe or Middle East. There were primarily high-priced cars like BMW M6, Porsche Cayenne GTS, Toyota Land Cruiser 200, Mazda CX-7, Mercedes G 500 and others among those released from bond this way. As soon as the vehicle certificate of ownership is given in the customs post, car could be registered in the driver and vehicle licensing division of the State Traffic Safety Inspectorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Dagestan located in the city of Kaspiysk where Russian plates were given to foreign cars. After that, cars were offered for sale.
It was in late 2014, when the first criminal cases into illegal customs clearance were initiated in Dagestan, however the key defendants were detained in 2 years only. Akhmed Onzholov turned out to be the only one who agreed to cooperate with the investigation. Others plead not guilty and, according to the lawyers participating in the case, state they were not aware of the details of the criminal scheme. In particular, lawyers of Askandar Bilalov, Aziz Suleymanov and Abdul Oshukov are being insistent on this theory; preliminary investigation against them has not been finished yet. 3 other defendants are put on the international wanted list.
In 2018, the official became a founder of a fund that deals with shooting and entrapment of wild animals in a hunting sector he supervises. With that, the official did not report about it to his senior executives.