He laundered 8.5 billion dollars. Antonio Valdez-Garcia, director of a shell-firm “Fragoil”, was apprehended in the airport “Sheremetyevo”. The website Prigovor.ru reminds its readers of what happened on June 12, 2005.
On this day 17 years ago, on June 12, 2005, Russian and foreign press started to express a coherent concern about the destiny of a yet another general director of the shell firm “Fragoil” by the name of Antonio Valdez-Garcia (born 1971), native of Moscow, who had citizenships of Russia and Spain.
During the period from 1992 to 1995, Valdez-Garcia, according to his own words during the investigation, worked in the bank “Menatep” under the direction of Yukos billionaire Mikhail Brudno. Then, in the beginning of the year 2000, Brudno walked him to Spirichev A.V. and said that he would be under his total command. Spirichev A.V. said that he would be working as general director of the LLC “Siberian Transportation Company”. Then, in 2000-2003, he became general director of the LLC “U Mordovia” and LLC “Fargoil” registered in the town Saransk. “The working place was in Moscow at the address Ulansky Lane, H.26, and it consisted of a table and a chair in a common room”.
In 2003, after the beginning of tax raids, Spirichev put him on leave and recommended to go outside Russia. A bit later, he ordered him not to return to Russia. Spirichev himself, by the way, escaped to the Czech Republic – he figured in the first case of Khodorkovsky.
TOGETHER WITH A GROUP OF PERSONS
Antonio Valdez-Garcia was mentioned in the criminal case No 18325531-04. The criminal investigation was launched by the Office of the Prosecutor General on two articles of the Criminal Code (“Embezzlement” and “Legalizing of monetary means”) on October 6, 2004. The investigation was opened with regard to Mikhail Khodorkovsky*, Vasily Shakhnovsky, Mikhail Brudno, Antonio Valdez-Garcia, Vladimir Pereverzin and Andrey Leonovich.
(See the article “On this day, embezzlement and laundering were itemized in connection with Khodorkovsky”. “An organized group made up of Khodorkovsky, Shakhnovsky, Brudno, Lebedev, and others…”).
According to the investigation, the mentioned group created a scheme of profit stealing gained by oil producing affiliates of Yukos – companies “Yuganskneftegaz”, “Tomskneft” and “Samaraneftegaz”. For that purpose, a chain of intermediary companies was created through which payment transactions were made for delivered oil, whereas the cost price at which oil producers sold their oil was several-fold different from the price that paid its buyers, end customers in the West.
Then the money gained through gray schemes was laundered – it was sent to offshore companies, including on Cyprus, disguised as dividends payment, and at the same time, the damage inflicted to oil producing companies, amounted, at a conservative estimate, to about $11 billion.
The founders of these offshore companies where money was funneled were top managers and big shareholders of the Oil Company Yukos. Later this criminal case was divided into separate parts – according to defendants and episodes. A part of participants of all these “laundry” schemes managed to left Russia as early as 2003. Among them was also “the Spanish martyr” Antonio Valdez-Garcia.
RECEPTION AT THE AIRPORT SHEREMETYEVO
In June 2005, the Spaniard considered worthy to come to Russia – he was one of many witnesses in the case of oil embezzlement and money laundering belonging by Khodorkovsky and Lebedev. However, his testimonial capacity in the case against Yukos leaders did not eliminate his participation in the criminal activity of Khodorkovsky’s laundries. So, Valdez-Garcia was apprehended directly at the airport “Sheremetyevo” on June 9, 2005, on charges of stealing property on an especially large scale committed by an organized group with participation of several leaders of the Oil Company Yukos (Article 160, paragraph 4 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). As well as on charges of legalizing, by an organized group, pecuniary means on an especially large scale obtained by illegal means (Article 174-1, paragraph 4 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation).
The head of the firm “Fragoil” Valdez-Garcia was the third defendant of the criminal case against the chief executive of the company “Ratibor” Vladimir Malakhovsky and deputy director of Yukos department of external debts Vladimir Pereverzin.
(See the article “On this day, Khodorkovsky's henchmen were adjudged guilty of stealing $13 billion”. Vladimir Malakhovsky and Vladimir Pereverzin, directors of Yukos "dumps", have laundered 13 billion U.S. dollars and have managed to legalize 8.5 billion U.S. dollars).
Yet, already in the process of the case against this trinity of money launderers, which took place in 2007, this impulsive defendant fled from Russia – he escaped from the guards as he had been not put in jail at that time. Later, he cooked up heaps of heartbreaking stories and rather senseless, but very “comfortable” for lawyers, for instance about how he, in an emotional burst, jumped out of the window trying either to commit suicide, or to go to a storehouse. In addition, he suffered an injury. All this was presented as “influence and torture” in order to “smear transparent Khodorkovsky”. Yet, few believed in such false stories, even while describing them in the press. So, when in January 2007 the defendant, who walked with crutches, managed to escape, the newspaper “Kommersant” came out with the telling headline “Agile disabled person”.
EIGHT YEARS OF IMPRISONMENT. IN ABSENTIA
Based on the fact of this escape (the guards were rebuked of their service), a theme emerged in the press that “the disappearance of the defendant Valdez-Garcia” had frustrated the pronouncement of sentence on the case, closely connected with the new case against Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev”. However, there was no ‘break” - the case against Valdez-Garcia was moved to “in absentia” format, and then a procedure of search and extradition was launched with regard to the fugitive from Spain, where he, at the end of the day, was discovered. Spain refused to extradite him.
However, this did not save this “son of a revolutionary” – in July 2011 the citizen of Spain Antonio Valdez-Garcia for participation in embezzlement of 13 billion dollars and laundering of 8.5 billion dollars received his jail sentence in absentia. “To inflict a final punishment to Valdez-Garcia in the form of eight years in a maximum security colony, to put him on a wanted list, and in case of apprehension, to take him into custody”, declared the judge.
By the way, Mikhail Khodorkovsky himself, without knowing it, told that “general directors” of the dump firms had been only signboards and expendable material. He said that in June 2011, as a witness in the case against the Spaniard. According to Khodorkovsky, “questions of selling of oil, questions of buying, selling and transporting, had been not part of responsibilities of Valdez-Garcia. He was obliged to conduct decisions taken by the managing companies.
“Had Valdez-Garcia broken the instruction, I would have known about that, he would have been fired, we would have put him on trial”, Khodorkovsky told the court. The omission of the swindler Khodorkovsky was corrected by the investigation”, notes the website Prigovor.ru.
(See the previous article “On this day, Yukos was lying about absence of contract with American lobbyists”. “The company Yukos has not concluded any contracts with the firm BKSH & Associates and doesn’t plan to do it in the future. The website Prigovor.ru reminds its readers of what happened on June 11, 2004).
*On May 20, 2022, the Russian Ministry of Justice included M.B. Khodorkovsky in the list of physical persons executing functions of a foreign agent.