Court to announce verdict in Pension Fund theft

MOSCOW, August 4 (Itar-Tass) — The Meshchansky Court of Moscow on Thursday will announce the sentence to six persons charged with attempted theft of 1.25 billion roubles from the Russian Pension Fund.

Hearings on this high-profile case began on Wednesday and took only one day – all of the defendants fully admitted their guilt, and the trial was held under a special procedure, at their request – that is, without a judicial investigation and examination of evidence. After the announcement of the indictment, the sides proceeded to the stage of argument.

“The defendants pleaded guilty and signed plea bargains,” a spokesperson for the Prosecutor General’s Office said earlier.

Public prosecution representative Gyulchekhra Ibragimova demanded to sentence the defendants to terms from to 3 years and 8 months to 6 years and 10 months’ imprisonment.

There six people on the dock – Kirill Ustinov, Yuri Shcherbakov, Vyacheslav Popov, Alexander Gladyshev, Alexander and Brazhnikov and Svetlana Gorskikh. The investigation established that acting by previous concert with unidentified persons, they stole 1.25 billion roubles from the accounts of the Pension Fund by submitting to OPERU-1 at the Central Bank of Russia of false remittance orders with the payment purpose of alleged financing the construction of the Fund’s facilities.

According to the prosecutor, former policeman Yuri Shcherbakov, who was the chief organizer of the crime, deserves the most severe penalty – 6 and 10 months in a tight security colony. For the former employees of the Kuban bank, Alexander Brazhnikov and Svetlana Gorskikh, the prosecutor requested a sentence of five years in prison each, and for another former manager of the same bank Kirill Ustinov – 4.5 years. For two other defendants – Vyacheslav Popov and Alexander Gladishev – the prosecutor requested 3 years and 8 months and 3 years and 10 months in a general regime penal colony, respectively. In addition, she insisted on the imposition of a fine from 1 to 1.2 million roubles on all the defendants.

According to investigators, on November 13, 2009, two false remittance orders with the payment purpose of alleged financing the construction of the Pension Fund’s facilities were submitted to the Central Bank’s OPERU-1. A sum of 1.250 billion roubles was transferred under it to the account of a fictitious organization – the SpetsTekhProm company in the commercial bank Kuban. Three days later, this sum on fictitious contracts was transferred in six tranches to other banks for companies with accounts in a bank in Cyprus. However, on November 16, fake signatures of employees of the Pension Fund, stamps and budget classification codes not used by the Fund were found on the copies of the orders that the Central Bank passed to the Pension Fund.

After identifying the blatant fraud the Central Bank of Russia immediately suspended the transaction and blocked the accounts of the money recipients, owing to which most the transferred sum was saved. Further measures taken by the staff of the Investigative Committee (SK) at the Interior Ministry, Department of Economic Security, the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Russian Central Bank made it possible to return all the stolen funds.

On November 23, 2009, suspects were arrested, among whom there were former employee of the OPERU-1 of the Bank of Russia and three former police officers.

According to investigators, the group’s leader was Yuri Shcherbakov who has several convictions for fraud – former officer of the department for organised crime control of the Moscow region’s main police department. Through an acquaintance – a manager at Kuban bank Kirill Ustinov, who forged the payment document, he attracted employees of the Kuban commercial bank – Alexander and Brazhnikov and Svetlana Gorskikh – to the affair.

All the defendants were charged with fraud. Brazhnikov and Gorskikh, who for legalising the large money sum carried out several financial operations with it, are also charged with money laundering. Ustinov is charged with forgery of documents.

The prosecutor believes the toughest penalty should be meted out to former policeman Yuri Shcherbakov, who masterminded the crime. Former Kuban bank employees Alexander Brazhnikov and Svetlana Gorskikh deserve five years in jail, and Kirill Ustinov, another former Kuban bank manager – 4.5 years.

Two other defendants – Vyacheslav Popov and Alexander Gladyshev have to be sentenced to three years eight months and three years ten months in a general regime penitentiary, respectively, the prosecutor said, insisting that all the defendants must be fined 1 to 1.2 million roubles.

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