Magnitsky’s Colleagues: He exposed a fraud and paid for it with his life

WPS: What the Papers Say

Once they recovered from the shock caused by the news of Sergei Magnitsky’s death behind the bars, his colleagues initiated an investigation of their own. They are convinced that Magnitsky was murdered because he had exposed a fraud costing the Russian treasury 5.4 billion rubles and because he was prepared to testify in an open trial. Hermitage Foundation is still following the trail of the vast sums gone from the treasury in the hope to unearth a connection with people on the so called Cardin’s List. A video appeared in the Internet last week, focused on the colossal sums to be found on foreign bank accounts of Vladlen Stepanov, the husband of the former chief of Moscow Tax Inspectorate No 28 Olga Stepanova. It had been Stepanova who authorized return of the billions of rubles from the budget on December 24, 2007.

The New Times described the fraud in detail. Inside of a day tax inspectorates NN 25 and 28 authorized return from the Russian treasury of 5.4 billion rubles to two dummy corporations Makhaon and Parfenion. It is known as well that these two corporations were used to steal from Hermitage Capital.

Like Tax Inspectorate No 25, the one Stepanova headed for a decade (No 28) is known among experts as a “black hole”. It is major companies that are serviced there, and this is what makes this structure attractive to all sorts of con-artists. Considering that the Stepanovs’ fortune is estimated at $39 million, the December 24, 2007 financial transaction was neither the first nor the last for Stepanova. Could she do it all on her own, without patrons in high places? Duma deputy Gennadi Gudkov commented once that for a person to pull it off without help, this person needed three months and a signature of someone with the rank of at least an assistant director of the Federal Tax Service.

Colleagues of the late lawyer point out some interesting nuances of Stepanova’s career. She resigned the tax inspectorate of her own volition this January and found a job at the Rosoboronpostavka (Federal Agency for Weapons, Military and Special Hardware, and Materiel) under the patronage of her ex-colleagues from the Federal Tax Service Nadezhda Sitnikova and Tatiana Shevtsova.

(Sitnikova was chief of the Moscow Directorate of the Federal Tax Service between October 2004 and 2009. Assistant Director of the Federal Tax Service, she resigned in May 2010. On June 13, 2010, President Dmitry Medvedev made her chief of the Rosoboronpostavka… Shevtsova was assistant director of the Federal Tax Service between November 2004 and May 2010. In May 2010 she became an advisor to the defense minister. Shevtsova became a deputy defense minister on August 6.)

Sources within Hermitage Capital have a hypothesis explaining the senior functionaries’ drift from the Federal Tax Service to the Defense Ministry. Incumbent Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov himself headed the Federal Tax Service between July 2004 and February 2007. Transferred to the Defense Ministry, he left the Federal Tax Service to Mikhail Mokretsov. Reorganization of the structure began in April 2010 and Mokretsov was replaced with Mikhail Mishustin who belonged to another team. That was when ex-officers of the Federal Tax Service began going over to the Defense Ministry. Mokretsov himself is chief of the Defense Ministry’s apparat at this point.

Jamison Firestone of Firestone Duncan auditors told The New Times that when the fortunes of Lieutenant Colonel Artyom Kuznetsov and Colonel Pavel Karpov had been reported in the Internet, he started receiving information on other potential felons that could be involved in the fraud.

Firestone developed interest in Stepanova when Irina Dudukina, Press Secretary of the Interior Ministry Investigative Committee, said on the anniversary of Magnitsky’s death that he himself had been part of the fraud whereas tax inspectors involved in the matter had acted in good faith and had been mislead. “I was enraged to hear it,” said Firestone. “And once we discovered that the Stepanovs frequented Dubai, we started digging.” According to the specialists, information comes from wholly unexpected quarters, reported by the people who find in the Cardin’s List the names of their business rivals or partners. All in all, Firestone Duncan has over 100 informants. One of them for instance alerted Firestone Duncan to the existence of a posh villa on the Persian Gulf coast worth $3 million that belonged to a Russian. Local records identified Stepanov as its owner. The villa was bought in mid-September 2008 or eight months after Stepanova had signed documents authorizing the return of allegedly debts from the budget to two dummy corporations. Money for the villa was transacted from Credit Suisse in Switzerland.

Another source provided bank statements showing that on January 26, 2008 Stepanov founded a company on the Cyprus and that Credit Suisse later transacted at least 7 million euros on its bank accounts. Another vast sum (1$.6 million) was transacted to the bank account of Stepanov’s other company registered in another offshore zone. Sums like that were never mentioned in the Stepanovs’ income declarations. How could they since their aggregate income amounted to only $38,000?

Studying the documents, experts discovered that $471,000 had been transacted once to Montenegro for construction of a villa on the Adriatic Sea coast. The same Credit Suisse bank accounts had been used to buy apartments at Kempinski Resort Palm Jumeira, one of the most expensive and prestigious complexes in Dubai.

Hermitage Capital reported all this information to Credit Suisse. The bank ran an investigation and finally contacted the authorities of Switzerland.

The Stepanovs’ wealth is staggering. It was only recently that Magnitsky’s colleagues discovered that the Stepanovs owned a palatial mansion along the Rublevo-Uspenskoye Shosse near Moscow. Stepanov’s mother, 85, was registered as its owner. According to the documents, market value of the mansion exceeds $20 million. The impression is that the Stepanovs are arrogantly convinced that they are safe and that nobody will ever bother asking how they managed to buy it all with their meager income.

Even Stepanova’s accomplices got their slice of the pie. There are documents showing that her assistants within Tax Inspectorate No 28 Yelena Anisimova and Olga Tsareva owned apartments at Kempinski Resort Palm Jumeira too. Money arrived from the same bank account.

Stepanova’s lawyer Larisa Move told journalists once that the Stepanovs had divorced in 1992 and been living separately ever since. Hermitage Capital was expecting something like that. Barely several hours later it made a statement to the effect that Olga and Vladlen Stepanovs were registered as man and wife living together. According to the documents obtained from the Border Service, between 2006 and 2010 the couple made 29 trips abroad. Firestone is prepared to give all these documents to the Russian authorities. Magnitsky’s friends and colleagues in the meantime pin hopes on Swiss investigators. The Russian Investigative Committee cannot help cooperating with its foreign analog. The Stepanovs’ bank accounts with Credit Suisse were frozen in January 2011.

According to what information is available to The New Times, Oleg Silchenko might be fired from the Investigative Committee before long. It was Silchenko who handled Magnitsky’s case when Sergei was still alive… Will we ever see a video starring Silchenko now?

* * *

In April 2010, Senator Ben Cardin appealed to the U.S. Department of State to declare personae non grata 60 representatives of Russian security structures and courts involved in Magnitsky’s death. On April 19, 2011, Representative McGovern suggested extension of the Cardin’s List. According to McGovern, Olga Yegorova of the Moscow Municipal Court, Investigative Committee Chairman Alexander Bastrykin, and some others ought to belong to the list too. hairy girls unshaven girls https://zp-pdl.com/get-quick-online-payday-loan-now.php https://zp-pdl.com/best-payday-loans.php unshaven girl

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