Corruption Weekly: 18-22 December

Russiangate's weekly digest of the most important investigations

December 18, the Munitsipalny skanner (Municipal Scanner) project came out with a story about a corporate settlement of the founders of Rosssiya Bank, Mikhail and Yury Kovalchuk, located next to Igora ski resort built by the businessmen.

Houses in the village belong to owner of BTK Group Taimuraz Bolloev, artistic director of the Leningrad Center Theater (owned by Yuri Kovalchuk) Felix Mikhailov, Deputy Director General of ADB Management Alexander Pentya, Deputy Head of the Commercial Projects Department of the company Dmitry Mandryk, Chairman of Sovcomflot's Board of Directors Ilya Klebanov, executive director of the Fifth Channel Andrei Oleinik, general director of LLC Businessros Arthur Popp, director of Rossiya processing department Yuri Gudkin, and others.

On December 19, Dozhd TV channel published new details in the investigation of German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. In November, the edition told about Arkady Rothenberg’s business jet. Later, Dozhd TV found out that the Russian businessman has not one but two jets. The first is a Bombardier Global XRS for $ 44 million, in which Rothenberg flew to St. Petersburg, Nice, Dubai, Indonesia and Phuket. The second is a Bombardier BD-100, in which the businessman visited Nice at least four times, Florence - twice, as well as Berlin.

The Bell found that officials are afraid of taking gifts after former Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukaev was sentenced to 8 years in prison for a bribe.

"No baskets in any form. Neither with food, nor wine, or even flowers - they freak out as soon as they them at the entrance," said an assistant to one of the ministers.

At the same time, Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin, who gave Ulyukaev a bag with $ 2 million, continues to present gifts to his colleagues. The basket "from Ivanich" includes four bottles of wine "Usad’ba Divnomorskoe", six tangerines and 2.5 kg of sausages made of game. The cost of such gift clearly exceeds 3 thousand rubles allowed as a gift to an official by the law.

The Insider published an investigation about "thieves-in-law" close to the Kremlin, who has been laundering criminal money in Monaco and Liechtenstein. The story tells about the funds of the Tambov OPG and criminal authorities Ilya Traber and Sergey Vasilyev, who control the Petersburg oil terminal. Sources of the publication told that both authorities enjoy close relations with Putin and even attend his birthday parties.

On December 21, the Investigations Management Center published a text on how founder of the Russian Athos society and Putin's friend Konstantin Goloshchapov managed to avoid paying taxes for his Croatian villa. The publication told how he bought a real estate worth at least € 39 million, and then used tax credit for tourist facilities illegally, as well as about his relations of Goloschapov with the Croatian president.

"The total area of four villas with nine bedrooms - about 5,000 sq.m with the most expensive types of marble, onyx and Burmese teak in their decor. The cost of design of each bathroom was over € 250 thousand. There are three luxury pools, a hairdressing salon, massage and SPA salons, a billiard room, a wine cellar, a cinema, a store for especially valuable dishes, two separate houses for staff accommodation, a tennis court on a roof of a garage and even a small oil mill. Totally, the investor has spent at least € 35 million for the construction,” the Investigations Management Center writes.

The Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) of Alexei Navalny, found € 1.7 million apartment in Paris belonging to Ekaterina Solotsinskaya, the former wife of Dmitry Peskov, Russia’s presidential press secretary.

The apartment of 180 sq.m. is located in the center of Paris. It was bought at the end of 2016. € 1.3 million for an apartment were paid as first tranche, another € 470 thousand were paid as a mortgage issued by subsidiary of VTB Bank. The real estate is registered on the French legal entity SIRIUS, 75% of which belong to Solotsinskaya, 25% to their common daughter Elizaveta.

There is no information on the origin of the money for which the apartment was purchased. "The only real option is that the thief and the bribe taker Peskov divorced and gave his daughter and ex-wife several million euros for arrangement of a new life," Navalny wrote.

The next day, Peskov said that he did not buy Solotsinskaya's apartment, and called information in the investigation slander. It is worth noting, that there was no information on the purchase of the real estate in FBK’s investigation.

Meduza wrote about the work of Russian lobbyists, GR workers and "fixers" - intermediaries in conversations between the state and business. In Russia, this sphere is not regulated by law, while the number of effective lobbyists on the market is estimated at ten thousand people. The author of the report explains who these mediators are, what their function is, how they come to agreement with the government, and why Sechin is believed to be the main lobbyist in the country.

"Children and friends of important persons, former officials, and simply respected people are usually engaged in solving problems,” the businessman continues. The fixers can work on different levels: "Some people help to decorate tents, others come to vice-mayors. In fact - the same thing. " According to him, "usually they are men, but there are also women of Matvienko type - they can set the heat." Such mediators in Russia are everywhere, where it is necessary to "solve" a problem - any person can play the role of a fixer. "Scratch the Russian - there will be a lobbyist," concludes one of the market’s key players.

On December 22, Mediazona published a text about "an amazing but unnoticed reveal of the Accounting Chamber, which the agency mentioned in its report on an empty prison built with the use of modern technologies and which meets the European penitentiary standards in the Khabarovsk Region."

First, the six-story Snezhinka (Snowflake), it got its name due to its shape of a six-beam star, was designed for 800 people. It construction was started back in 1992. 817 million rubles of budget money was spent for construction of the insulator.

The prison was launched in 2012, but started to be used only in 2014. By 2016, it was filled only by 8.6% with 68 prisoners serving their terms.

Then the building was turned into a colony for life-sentenced prisoners. But it did not solve the problem - only 23 people were held there.

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