Why Russian law enforcers persecute Russia's banker Sipachev

Author : Komsomolskaya Pravda

Sipachev is known to be a major businessman and banker,  founder of the Orthodox Party and the Master Party. On the Internet, his name is mostly often mentioned in connection with the suspicion of fraud in a particularly large size and conflict with the head of the Association of taxpayers of the Russian Federation Konstantin Gusarin
21:29, 28 November 2019

The Reserve Interstate Bank intends to enter the Ukrainian market and has already sent the corresponding appeals to the Office of the President and the Cabinet of Ministers. RIB specializes in technical crediting without government guarantees - a fast way to attract investment and stimulate a developing economy, reports.

The principle of operation is as follows: a country provides a technical loan, the bank builds the facility and launches it into work, engineering companies calculate all the details, then sell the object to investors through online sites. For example, a hotel or an industrial enterprise - with infrastructure, staff, and profits. Demand for such lots is strong and steady: investing in a ready-made business is not as risky as creating the business from scratch.

The Reserve Interstate Bank started operating in the African and Arab world. Currently, the agreement with the bank has been ratified by only 1 country, but another 15 are in line to ratify. Ukraine may become the first client in the post-Soviet territory.

There are reports that the Administration of the President and the Cabinet of Ministers have already begun providing information about the institution. And there is a "hidden rock": the bank's owner, Russian businessman Vladimir Sipachev is on the federal wanted list. Sipachev left the territory of the Russian Federation more than a year ago because of a conflict with security forces and criminal prosecution. It does not necessarily mean that Russia shall provide objective information about Sipachev, even if such a request is applied. But analyzing open criminal cases gives the idea of lots of events, both around Sipachev himself and his business.

Taxpayers Association and a strange million

Vladimir Sipachev
Sipachev is known to be a major businessman and banker,  founder of the Orthodox Party and the Master Party. On the Internet, his name is mostly often mentioned in connection with the suspicion of fraud in a particularly large size and conflict with the head of the Association of taxpayers of the Russian Federation Konstantin Gusarin.

In the media you can find information that Gusarin allegedly paid Sipachev $ 1 million for lobbying services. Apparently Sipachev promised to solve the issue in the Moscow City Government, but instead, he disappeared together with a million.

Gusarin chose not to report a theft of the million to the authorities. At least, there are no facts about this in the Russian state registry of criminal cases and court acts. There are no other confirmations of the transaction either. And, so, there is a possibility that the story is made up. Perhaps with the aim of discrediting Sipachev, with whom Gusarin was associated with long and unpleasant relations.

By the way, we failed to find statements for the law enforcement agencies by Gusarin, or to find an open criminal case on the aforementioned one million dollars, but we found a verdict to Gusarin himself - dated June 14, 2016. The head of the taxpayers' association is convicted of ... non-payment of taxes.


According to the text of the document, during 2010-2012,  Customer Service LLC, owned by Gusarin, paid for allegedly rendered services to five fictitious companies - "Financial Consulting", "Vlarius", "Astra", "Financial Assurance", "Probsnab". The statutory documents, contracts, acceptance acts for services rendered, invoices of these companies were found in the Gusarin laptop during the search.


Thus, the head of the taxpayers' association keep the artificially low income of his company and committed over $400 000 VAT and profit tax evasion He was sentenced to 3 years in prison, however, given the mitigating circumstances, he was suspended for probation.




Gusarin vs. Sipachev

In 2010, Gusarin was the head of the Interrox Company, owned by Sipachev. He transferred 22 million euros, meant for Sipachev,  to the accounts of his Customer Service LLC, in frameworks of the deal with the Immofinance Austrian construction company. After that, he transferred the entire amount of money to the aforementioned fictitious companies, quit Sipachev's company and did not get in touch with him.

Sipachev appealed to the state security agencies. Two years later, fearing of the responsibility, Gusarin invited Sipachev to his home - on the pretext of talking and settling the conflict.

Sipachev told about these "negotiations" at interrogation. On February 1, 2012 the driver of Gusarin delivered him to the apartment on  Mosfilmovskaya street. According to Sipachev, six young men of strong physique were waiting for him already, they began to beat him. After 4 hours of execution, he was forced to write acquittances for a total amount of 80 million rubles ($1.2 mln): $150,000 - $180,000 each backdating the as of January 11-14, 2012.

Sipachev's lawyers said that the law enforcement agencies ignored the allegations of bodily harm - because there were no traces. Possibly, they covered their colleagues who quit and were hired by a private security company: the contractor beat professionally, leaving neither bruises nor fractures.



Testimony of one of the witnesses (they had a joint business together with Sipachev in 2001 and a number of financial issues remained unresolved for a long time) shows that this witness met Gusarin in autumn of 2011. The head of the taxpayers' association offered to help him to return the money that Sipachev owed him. They agreed the following: the witness will find 2-3 guys of strong physique, they shall "scare" Sipachev and he will write hand receipts. For this, Gusarin promised the witness to pay $25,000 right then and there, and  another $50,000 after the trial. However, later, according to the witness, Gusarin began changing the terms of the deal: instead of "scaring" Sipachev he asked to beat him to get receipts for sure. The witness refused to participate and testified. However, those testimonies were never included in the case, despite the fact that they could significantly influence the investigation. The formal reason for the refusal was that the case was suspended because Sipachev was listed in the wanted list.

The suspect's attorneys draw attention to the following detail: the refusal was signed by Grishin, the head of the 9th department of the investigative unit, although the case was initiated and investigated in the 8th department. At that time, it was also headed by that very Grishin.

"We find this refusal to include materials one explanation strange. If the case has a customer (and everything points to it), then the entire department 8 has obligations of a financial nature to him. That is why the refusal was signed by Grishin, who now has nothing to do with the case at all,"- lawyer Marina Sizova says.


Meanwhile, Gusarin collected receipts and appealed to the Khamovnichesky District Court of Moscow to recover 54 million rubles (over $840,000) from Sipachev. However, the court did not take into account the testimony of the "accused" person: Judge Natalia Platkhuta questioned the origin of the receipts, which she openly stated during the court hearing. Gusarin immediately withdrew the claim. First, he probably counted on a criminal rather than a civil trial. Second, he feared backlash and responsibility for extortion and torture. It is logical that the best way out would be to jail Sipachev and preferably for a long time. For example, under Article 159, part 4 of the Criminal Code with a term of 8 to 15 years. In case Sipachev was sentenced, he would have come out of custody in his 70-s.


Disputable contract and deliberate errors in hand receipts

According to the media, Mikhail Mogutov helped organize the criminal case of Gusarin. Presumably in 2002, at the request of Mogutov, Sipachev introduced him to Alexander Katsev, the employee of the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation. Mogutov wanted to "buy" the minister's post and paid Katsev $250,000 in advance for that. However, soon a group of persons selling appointments to office was discovered: Katsev and other defendants got from 7 to 10 years in prison. Being left without money and without a position, Mogutov decided to get those $250,00 back - to recover them from Sipachev through the court. The court sustained the claim, although the investigation did not provide any evidence that the debt actually existed: neither receipts nor contracts.

The reason was that after Katsev was released, Sipachev, Mogutov and Katsev signed a contract that stated that a debt exists between Katsev and Mogutov. Katsev pledges to return to Mogutov the entire sum within a year, after which Mogutov waives financial claims against Sipachev. However, the original of the contract was seized during a search at Sipachev, without attaching it to the case file.

"The senior search officer in the presence of his wife and son Sipachev said: we are not looking for anything, we are looking only for a contract," one of the lawyers said.

At this point, the interests of Mogutov and Gusarin intersected. On the basis of receipts, "beaten out by force", Gusarin applied to the court again, this time saying that Sipachev stole 54 million rubles (over $840,000) from him.

Sipachev in response stated that the case (under the same part 4 of Article 159 of the Criminal Code) was fabricated: the court did not take into account his testimony that he had written receipts, fearing for his life. The words of the suspect in the case confirm, including "atypical" errors in the receipts. For example, the experts did not find it strange that Sipachev allegedly accidentally wrote the name of the district he had lived in for more than 20 years by that time, with a mistake - "Khomovniki" instead of "Khamovniki".


Therefore, both were in the win: Gusarin managed to law enforcers to pursue Sipachev under the criminal prosecution for "grand fraud", and, thus, he may be calm for the stolen millions and for their own freedom. For his part, by the decision of the court, Mogutov received $250,000 from Sipachev - the legal defense could not prove that the debtor is Katsev, but not Sipachev without the original contract.

Having paid this amount, Sipachev left Russia. He was listed on a federal wanted list, though no charges have been filed.


The assassination of Gusinsky and conflict with the authorities

Russian media also call Sipachev an order of the assassination attempt on Russian oligarch Vladimir Gusinsky, although representatives of Gusinsky himself in 1995 called the situation a "misunderstanding". The scandal has flared up over a conflict between Syapachev's Aeroflot Bank and Moscow's City Hall. The bank granted the Moscow City Property Department a $150 million loan, which the Moscow government refused to repay. After the leadership of the Russian Federation medelled with the situation, the parties came to a compromise: in order to compensate for the damage caused, the Moscow City Property Department had to become a co-founder of the bank with 40% of shares and go to service in Aeroflot.

Such a scenario caused panic in the Most bank, owned by Gusinsky, which at that time was servicing the Moscow City Property Department. In order not to lose a top client, the Aeroflot deal with the mayor's office had to be aborted. On October 16, 1995, the Most group told the Moscow Chief Department of the Internal Affairs that Sipachev had allegedly ordered the murder of Gusinsky. A few weeks later, Gusinsky's bank called the situation a misunderstanding, however the raised hype to disrupt the deal was enough. Moscow City Property Department remained the client of the Most Bank, and Sipachev's bank "Aeroflot" lost hope of returning $150 million, and later also lost its licenses.

The relations between Sipachev and the Moscow government remain very unfriendly since the beginning of the conflict. Only one mayor has changed in office over these years, the apparatus, for the most part, worked with Luzhkov and remembers both Sipachev and Aeroflot's debt well. So, in the history of $1 million, Gusarin, to put it mildly, exaggerated the lobbying capabilities of Sipachev in Moscow.

Now Sipachev is hiding from Russian law enforcement agencies, continuing to claim that the Interior Ministry's Investigation Department is executing an order and is extorting money from him. According to Sipachev's lawyers, all this time is receiving "proposals" from investigative officers to close the case fo "remuneration". The price, which started at $1 million, has already grown to $5 million.

The 159th article, alleged to Sipachev, is a favorite tool of Russian security forces in the fight against so-called economic crime. All those who cannot (or do not want to) buy out are behind bars or, like Sipachev, are fugitive now.

As Russian Foundation "Liberal Mission" reports, the FSB data is shocking: the annual number of investigated criminal cases against businessmen has increased by 20-25% and has increased more than tripled over the last 7 years. Now, every fourth FSB investigation deals with economic crimes, with only 4% linked to terrorism. In general, economic articles in the Russian Federation annually bring more than 200 thousand criminal cases.

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