“Physical persons” from the Isle of Man. The Head of “Menatep” Lebedev committed tax evasion as a physical person to the amount of 7 million rubles. The website Prigovor.ru reminds its readers of what happened on February 10, 2004.
On this day 18 years ago, on February 10, 2004, The Office of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation brought the charge under Article 198 of the Criminal Code of Russia of tax evasion on an especially big scale against Platon Lebedev, head of the International Financial Association “Menatep”. The amount of tax arrears amounted to 7 million rubles.
This referred to a scheme of tax evasion through fictitious agreements with the offshore shell company under the name “Status Services Limited” (The Isle of Man).
This firm was present in all its beauty in the criminal case of Vassily Shakhnovsky, whom, on February 5, 2004, the Meschansky Court of Moscow adjudged guilty as a physical person of tax evasion on an especially large scale. The key moment of the case was fictitious agreements between Shakhnovsky and the firm “Status Services Limited” to provide “consulting services”.
During the investigation to light came similar “contracts” concluded with the firm “Status Services Limited” (The Isle of Man) of all members of Yukos management. When the Shakhnovsky case was completed, it became clear – the episode with tax dodging through fictitious consulting looms large over all “main shareholders” of the most “transparent” oil company.
(See also the article “Tax mechanics of Khodorkovsky as a physical person”).
According to the materials of the case, "Lebedev Pavel Leonidovich committed on an especially large scale evading of taxes and levies as a physical person by way of including in the tax declaration knowingly false data“.
The scheme worked as follows – obtain a patent as an entrepreneur, conclude a fictitious contract of providing "consulting and information services" with the firm "Status Services Limited", and receive from it various sums of money. There were no facts that can corroborate carrying out, in reality, such consultations.
“Thereat”, it is pointed out in the materials of the case, “Lebedev P.L was perfectly aware that he had received this money as a reward for carrying out the employment duties in the JSC "Bank “Menatep", CJSC "Rosprom”, JSC Yukos-Moskva”, and not for providing consulting services as an entrepreneur. “On the whole, Lebedev P.L. illegally didn’t pay taxes and security levies to the state non-budgetary funds from incomes as a physical person to the tune of 7 269 276 rubles”, pointed out the investigation.
“ARGUMENTS OF THE DEFENSE DO NOT CORRESPOND TO CIRCUMSTANCES”
The defendant Lebedev himself acknowledge that he had concluded contracts with the firm "Status Service Limited" for delivery of consulting services, but he could not say exactly how many of them had been concluded; he had provided services in reality, he had received money, paid taxes as a private entrepreneur, but he didn't admit guilt. The defense was trying to assure that the evidence of providing real services was in the document collection withdrawn within the framework of the criminal case No18/41, and they were had been not included in the materials of the case. Even a certain list of such documents was prepared. The Court studied this question and after that pointed out in the verdict that “from the presented by the defense list of documents one cannot perceive their relations to the contracts concluded by Lebedev P.L. with the above mention company “Status Services Limited”.
Having indicated that Lebedev’s evidence and the arguments of the defense do not correspond to the circumstances of the episode, documents, witnesses' testimony, the Court came to the conclusion that Lebedev P.L. committed actions directed at corrupting the status of a taxpayer, as well as the sources of income", and that these actions "confirm the selfish characteristics of Platon Lebedev’s intentions, i.e. he knew in advance and wanted to evade paying taxes as a physical person”.
“THIS WAY OF TAX EVASION WAS WIDELY USED IN THE STRUCTURES OF “MENATEP-YUKOS”
The court emphasized the role of the legal department of the company “Yukos-Moskva”. “In particular, from the attached to the case agreements for providing services, concluded in 1997-1997, between the foreign company “Status Services Limited” and the leaders, as well as with the main shareholders of the JSC Oil Company Yukos, including Khodorkovsky M.B., Shakhnovsky V.S., Brudno M.B., Kazakov V.A., Nevzlin L.B., one can notice that they, in the same period as with Lebedev P.L., also had to provide to the mentioned foreign company consulting services. The interests of Lebedev P.L. and the mentioned persons in tax agencies, in particular, the interests of Khodorkovsky M.B., Lebedev P.L., and Shakhnovsky V.S., for the most part, represented the same trusted persons. All this testifies that the way to evade taxes, worked out by the legal department of the JSC “Yukos-Moskva”, was widely used in the structures of “Menatep-Yukos”.
As in was mentioned in the verdict of the Meschansky Court of Moscow from May 16, 2005, 9 from the received years, on the totality of the committed crimes, for the episode connected with Article 198, paragraph 2, of the Criminal Code of Russia, Lebedev received the punishment in the form of imprisonment for the term of 1 (one) year and six months”.
DECIDED TO HAVE A REPUTATION OF TAX CRIMINALS
On the eve of the passing of the sentence, in April 2005, the leadership of “Menatep”, under the guise of certain “friends and well-wishers”, rushed to settle tax debts of the screwed up “physicals” from the list of "Forbes". Anton Drel, the lawyer of Khodorkovsky, presented to journalists documents, from which one could see that at the address of the Federal Treasury of the Finance Ministry for tax inspections from “the main shareholders” money had been transferred in order to avoid litigations with the Tax Service within the framework of a civil process. The money was transferred by Vladimir Dubov, Leonid Nevzlin, Mikhail Brudno, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and Platon Lebedev. Vassily Shakhnovsky was not on the list because of objective reasons – he settled debts and penalties separately – within the framework of his own case.
So, it was found out that for Mikhail Khodorkovsky money was transferred by four foreign currency tranches (according to the current exchange rate:
1 million 950 thousand 593 U.S. dollars
2 million 182 thousand 088 U.S. dollars
54 thousand 191 U.S. dollars
62 thousand 407 U.S. dollars.
For Platon Lebedev, similarly, the following sums were transferred:
254 thousand 265 U.S. dollars
305 thousand 350 U.S. dollars
6 thousand 978 U.S. dollars
8 thousand 326 U.S. dollars.
Thereat, the lawyer Drel pointed out that the defense was going to inform the Court about the payments of the tax debts within the first criminal case.
“On the other hand, Khodorkovsky continued to behave like a mock madman, saying that “this doesn’t mean my accommodation with the demands”. By doing so, Khodorkovsky and Lebedev themselves frustrated a possibility of “active repentance” which could have eliminated this episode from this shameful for the billionaires case during court proceedings. But they decided to enter into history as tax criminals who, being dollar billionaires, were stealing from the state over very little things, thereat they settled their debts, in essence, at somebody else’s expenses”, noted the website Prigovor.ru.
(See also the previous article “On this day, the astronomical scale of embezzlement was disclosed”. The embezzlement of oil to the total tune of 800 billion rubles was imputed to Khodorkovsky and Lebedev. The sum of the laundering – 450 billion rubles and $7.5 billion. The website Prigovor.ru reminds its readers of what happened on February 9, 2007.