Billions of plastic. How 41 billion rubles were withdrawn from Russia using plastic bottle machines

This material was prepared by The Insider in collaboration with Transparency International-Russia , Transparency International-UK , Transparency International-Czech Republic, Novaya Gazeta Europe , Meduza , and Eesti Päevaleht

For the laundering scheme, 28 Russian banks were used, through which at least 124 suspicious transactions were carried out over three years. After that, 11 banks had their licenses revoked, sometimes right after the payments were made.

In the same club with Shoigu

The largest sums - a total of $51 million - for dubious transactions with injection molding machines passed through Transnational Bank in March-April 2015. This money was allegedly transferred for the purchase of four injection molding machines of the 90s, which in fact cost from half a million rubles. Almost a thousand times more expensive they were "bought" by three Russian one-day firms registered at the addresses of mass registration of companies. The firms themselves have already been liquidated. And the money went to front companies in Latvia and the UK.

Immediately after that, the Central Bank revoked the license from Transnational Bank for "carrying out dubious operations of clients to withdraw funds abroad in significant volumes." And against the president of the bank, a criminal case was initiated for falsifying reports. But after only a few months, the case was closed.

Interestingly, among the shareholders of the bank were Andrei Safronov, Elena Skorik and Irina Petrova, who held senior positions in the hockey club of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and then moved to HC Dynamo. The latter's board of trustees included Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, FSB director Alexander Bortnikov, and former FSO director Yevgeny Murov. Now the bank and the main shareholder Sergei Kononov again have problems with the law. But this is already connected with other accusations - the case of fraud. Read more about fraud through the "Transnational Bank" - in the material of "Novaya Gazeta".

Serdyukov's son and circuit failure

Around the same time, in the spring of 2015, $ 9.8 million for payment for injection molding machines were carried out through Bank Saint Petersburg, co-owned by the son of ex-Minister of Defense Anatoly Serdyukov - Sergey Serdyukov and the son of the speaker of the Federation Council Valentina Matvienko - Sergey Matvienko .

In one of the episodes, money was transferred from a one-day firm, unknown to anyone, "Petersburg Construction Investment Company (PSIK)" to Estonia. However, here the scheme failed: after the tax audit, a criminal case was initiated. As a result, only the owner of the one-day company, retired Alexander Skirdov, was brought to justice, in whose name several more shell companies were registered. In 2019, the Moscow District Court of St. Petersburg sentenced Skirdov to five years of probation.

Money for chef Putin

It was also found that this scheme was used by one of the denominations of Putin's cook Yevgeny Prigozhin, a resident of St. Petersburg Vitaly Murentsov, to withdraw funds abroad. In April-July 2015, three shell companies transferred $30 million through Promsvyazbank as payment for five used injection molding machines.

The seller, and as a result, the recipient of the money, turned out to be three firms, including the Estonian Kaupleader. This company was registered in February 2015 just a couple of months before the deal. Murentsov, the director of the Prague branch of the Seychelles company Linburg Industries , turned out to be its director. This firm owns Prigozhin's Hawker 125-800B business jet, which came under Western sanctions. Murentsov also heads a number of other companies associated with Putin's chef, which appeared in the "Moldovan laundromat" - the largest scheme in the CIS for laundering and withdrawing money from Russia. According to Novaya Gazeta and OCCRP, money from state contracts and bank assets were transferred to Moldova under the guise of never-issued loans. The transfers were based on court orders. From 2011 to 2014, at least $21 billion was withdrawn from the country in this way.

In total, 130 Russian and foreign companies in 18 countries participated in dubious operations with injection molding machines. Most of them are one-day firms that were liquidated after the transactions were completed.

Since the customs value in all these cases differed hundreds or even thousands of times from the real one, it can be assumed that the customs at least turned a blind eye to the existence of this scheme. It is worth noting that 80% of transactions went through the North-Western Customs Department, namely through the customs posts of the Kaliningrad region. Back in 2015, the auditor of the Accounts Chamber, Sergei Shtogrin, indicated in his reports that from 2013 to the first quarter of 2015, 755 declarations with signs of overpricing were filed at the Kaliningrad customs for a total of $ 7.3 billion.

The material was prepared with the participation of Ilya Shumanov.

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