Moscow Court Sentences Bankers in 'Russian Laundromat' Case
Moscow courts issued new sentences in criminal cases related to a large-scale investigation into the withdrawal of funds from Russia under the so-called Moldovan scheme.
The guilty bankers
- Oleg Kuzmin, the former owner of the European Express bank, was sentenced to nine years in prison, and
- Alexander Grigoriev, was sentenced to 12 years.
The operation that lasted from 2010 until 2014 may have been the largest of this kind in Eastern Europe, with more than US$20 billion of illicit money transferred from Russia to Moldova and Latvia through a complex series of intermediaries, a 2014 OCCRP investigation revealed.
Implicated in it were not just members of organized crime groups, but politicians, finance and industry leaders and even judges.
In Moldova, the project was supported by major political figures, such as Renato Usatii, president of Moldova's "Our Party" and ex-head of the Democratic Party of Moldova, Vladimir Plahotniuc.
Russian news coverage
The reading of the verdict to banker Oleg Kuzmin (known among financiers as Oleg Vokzal) took just over an hour on March 15. But already in the first ten minutes it became clear that he would be accusatory.
The Tverskoy District Court eventually found the owner of the Evropeyskiy Express bank guilty of committing a crime under Part 1 of Art. 210 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (participation in an organized criminal community), as well as part 3 of Art. 193.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (transfer of funds abroad using forged documents).
The court fully agreed with the conclusions of the investigation that from June 2013 to May 2014,
- Oleg Kuzmin, acting "out of selfish motives" as part of a criminal community, transferred currency from his bank accounts to "non-resident's bank accounts" - Moldovan Moldindconbank. At the same time, the Russian controlling organizations "were provided with deliberately false information" about the grounds, goals and purpose of these transfers.
- All the dubious transactions carried out by Mr. Kuzmin's bank for a total of $ 1 billion at the then exchange rate were carried out within the framework of the criminal "Moldovan" scheme.
However, at the same time, the court noted that the defendant fully complied with all the conditions of the pre-trial cooperation agreement concluded with him in March 2020. As a result, the court reduced the term requested in the debate by the representative of the Prosecutor General's Office by a year, sentencing Oleg Kuzmin to nine years in a strict regime colony and a fine of 1 million rubles.
Also, the court turned 235.5 thousand rubles seized from the banker into state revenue. and € 1.1 thousand, Mercedes AMG 4MATIC and Toyota Land Cruiser 200 cars, Harley-Davidson and Honda motorcycles.
The verdict came as a surprise to Oleg Kuzmin: the banker hoped that he would get off with a minimum or even a suspended sentence.
As his lawyer Vladimir Zherebenkov noted to Kommersant, the defense considers the verdict
- "Unreasonably tough and will appeal against it as soon as possible. Mr. Zherebenkov stressed that it was only "thanks to the testimony of his client that the investigation figured out" all the nuances of the "Moldovan" scheme.
According to the lawyer, the "enormous assistance to the investigation" provided by the banker was not properly assessed by the court.
It is worth noting that Oleg Kuzmin gave detailed testimony about two dozen active participants in the criminal transit, through which about $ 20 billion was withdrawn from Russia.
Among the criminal community organisers are Moldovan
- Renato Usatii,
- Ilan Shor,
- ex-head of the Democratic Party of Moldova Vladimir Plahotniuc
- Vyacheslav Platon and
In addition, among those whom Oleg Vokzal testified against were
- the banker Alexander Grigoriev and
- the head of the Treasury of Moldindconbank Elena Platon , the sister of Vyacheslav Platon , who were recently sentenced to long terms (he himself, we note, received an 18-year sentence in Moldova, but was later released)
It should be noted that the court appointed Ms. Platon Tverskoy ten years in a special order. Her defense is going to appeal the verdict.