Pension Fund money theft case to go on trial in Moscow

MOSCOW, August 3 (Itar-Tass) — Moscow’s Meshchansky court on Wednesday will begin to review the criminal case over the 1.25 billion-rouble theft from the Pension Fund. The investigators said two fake payment orders were presented at the Central Bank of Russia on November 13, 2009, allegedly for the funding of Pension Fund’s construction projects.

A total of 1.25 billion roubles were transferred to the accounts of Spetstekhprom, which turned out to be a dummy firm, and the commercial bank Kuban.

Three days later, this sum was remitted to other banks in six tranches, for several companies that had accounts at a Cyprus bank.

However, on November 16, the fact of fake signatures was reported on the copies of the payment orders which the Central Bank had handed over to the Pension Fund. Seals and budget classification codes turned out to be fakes as well.

After the fraud was exposed, the Central Bank immediately suspended the transaction and blocked the money recipients’ accounts. This helped save the larger part of the remitted money.

Subsequent actions taken together with the Investigative Committee, police, the Interior Ministry’s Economic Security Department, the Federal Security Service and the Central Bank enabled them to recover all the stolen money.

The suspects were detained on November 23, 2009, including a former OPERU-1 employee at the Bank of Russia and three former police officers.

The investigators said the criminal group was led by Yuri Shcherbakov, 40, who has a record of convictions for fraud. Shcherbakov earlier worked for Moscow region organized crime police.

He enlisted Kuban bank employees Alexander Brazhnikov and Svetlana Gorskikh through his acquaintance Kirill Ustinov, a Kuban bank manager who forged the payment orders.

Earlier, spokeswoman for the Prosecutor General’s Office Marina Gridneva said six suspects – Kirill Ustinov, Yuri Shcherbakov, Vyacheslav Popov, Alexander Gladyshev, Alexander Brazhnikov and Svetlana Gorskikh – were charged with fraud.

Brazhnikov and Gorskikh were charged with money laundering. The investigators said they performed several financial operations with the fund on November 16, 2009, in order to lend legal appearance to the possession of this money.

Ustinov was charged with forgery of documents.

“The defendants pleaded guilty and signed plea bargains,” the spokeswoman said.


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