Under the scheme of “tax refund”, Khodorkovsky M.B. and Lebedev P.L., by way of cheating, stole 407 120 540.28 rubles belonging to the state. The website Prigovor.ru reminds its readers of what happened on May 27, 2005.
On this day 18 years ago, on May 27, 2005, the Meschansky District Court of Moscow continued the pronouncement of the verdict in the criminal case against the former head of the oil company NK Yukos Mikhail Khodorkovsky*, head of the International Financial Association “Menatep” Platon Lebedev, and former general director of the CJSC “Volna” Andrey Kraynov. They were accused of criminal activity in the economic sphere. On the tenth day, the court informed the audience of two episodes of the criminal activity of the leadership of the “most transparent” oil company. One episode was qualified under Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Swindling). The second episode was qualified under Article 160 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation – Misappropriation or Embezzlement, that is stealing of other people’s property entrusted to the convicted person.
“TAX REFUND” WITH ELEMENTS OF DEBAUCH
The fraudulent episode under Article 159 of the Criminal Code of Russia is dedicated to the description of criminal schemes launched by Khodorkovsky and Lebedev in tax direction. Khodorkovsky’s organized criminal group was not satisfied with tax dodging and not paying money to the state budget, and that is why, as was established by the investigation and the court, the appetites of the swindlers had spread also onto budget monetary means which the state, in case of overpay, returned to entrepreneurs. Many remember this program under the name of “tax refund”.
“With the purpose to evade paying taxes and to steal budget money, Khodorkovsky M.B., Lebedev P.L. and other members of the organized group created on the territory of Kirovsk, Chita Regions and Aginsk District of the Buryat Autonomous Area created and then used shell LLC “Perspektiva Optimum”, LLC “Trade Company “Alkhanay” and LLC “Investptoyekt”, read out the court.
“In order to cover their traces of the crime, namely, embezzlement, by way of cheating, budget means to the amount of 407 120 540.28 rubles, Khodorkovsky M.B., Lebedev P.L. and persons in the organized group acting together with them, organized an inclusion into the prepared beforehand LLC “Investproyekt” shell companies LLC “Perspektiva Optimum” and LLC “Trade Company “Alkhanay”.
“The charges against Khodorkovsky M.B. and Lebedev P.L., as part of the organized group, with regard to embezzlement of budget money on behalf of the LLC “Trading Company “Lakhanay” and LLC “Perspektiva Optimum”, is corroborated by following materials of the criminal case”, the verdict said.
The court itemized the documentary block of evidence corroborating that the firms engaged in Khodorkovsky’s dirty “return” scheme, were shell-firms – from lack of characteristic of a law person to certificates of psychic illness of the director of the LLC “Investproyekt”. Actually, he worked as a street cleaner, yet, as it was established by the investigation, he had been used “blindly” by the sly organizers of the criminal scheme who had proposed to him to become director.
Initially, but the way, it was supposed that the future “director” had banally lost his passport, that had been used by some unknown tricksters. However, the investigation found out that these tricksters had had a very close contact with the dummy director and even had made a joint trip from Kirov Region to Chita Region for signing documents needed for the pulling off of the affair. The wheeler-dealers had been covering traces by legal reissuing of status of the shell firms.
INSTEAD OF AN OFFICE – GARAGE, BOILER STATION, WAREHOUSES
“Having incorporated the LLC “Trade Company “Alkhanay” and LLC “Perspektiva Optimum” into the LLC “Investproyekt”, Khodorkovsky M.B., Lebedev P.L. and other members of the organized group, provided for transferring all rights and responsibilities to the LLC “Investproyekt”, including the right to receive tax refunds that had been previously accepted in form of promissory notes of the OJSC NK Yukos”, was pointed out in the verdict.
At the same time, as the inspection showed, at the addresses mentioned in the documents of the LLC “Investproyekt” were found various entities – a certain “business-club”, store, bakery, garage, boiling station, warehouses. The sought-for firm, to which a ton of money had been siphoned (it was confirmed by a hefty wad of abstracts of accounts and other documents) was simply not found at this address.
THEY STOLE FROM THE STATE 407 120 540.28 RUBLES
Thus, the court acknowledged, the studied evidence show that Khodorkovsky M.B. and Lebedev P.L., using shell and controllable by them companies, organized embezzlement of monetary assets from the budget of the Russian Federation, using for that purpose cheating, as the demands put forward on behalf of the mentioned companies pertaining to refund of overpaid taxes, was based on facts that didn’t correspond to reality”.
“On the whole, Khodorkovsky M.B. and Lebedev P.L., as part of the organized group, stole, by way of fraud and in the form of illegal refund of overpaid taxes, monetary means to the amount of 407 120 540.28 which belonged to the state.
The defendants and the defense, to be sure, dismissed all the charges. Yet, the court pointed out the inconsistence of their arguments, as the declared positions of the defendants didn’t correspond to the established circumstances and evidential base.
“TO THE BENEFIT OF GUSINSKY”
Another episode of stealing of other people’s property entrusted to the accused (Article 160 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) was connected with committing by Khodorkovsky M.B. embezzlement on a large scale. The evidence base was rather big because of the large quantity of various financial and other documents. The essence of the crime committed by Khodorkovsky M.B. was a machination – he got into the cash register of a JSC while pulling off deals together with the owner of “Group Most” Vladimir Gusinsky. On the basis of dummy deals, Khodorkovsky, free of charge, directed monetary means to the benefit of Gusinsky.
“KHODORKOVSKY SUCCEEDED IN HIDING PART OF EMBEZZLEMENT”
“As the result of Khodorkovsky’s actions with regard to the embezzlement of 2 649 906 620 rubles, a damage was inflicted not only to direct owners – legal entities, but also the shareholders of these legal entities”.
The defense, in this case, told to the public, that Khodorkovsky “could not steal money from himself”, completely ignoring the fact that the money had been not from a personal pocket of Khodorkovsky, but from the cash register of a stock company. Moreover, in order to hide the embezzlement to the benefit of Gusinsky V.A., Khodorkovsky M.B. undertook actions directed at misappropriation of a building located at the following address: Moscow, Palashevsky Lane, House 5/1, and for that purpose a whole plan had been worked out. Nobody in Yukos cared that this building was already under arrest and was subject to alienation.
The collected “evidence shows that person under control on business of Khodorkovsky M.B. and Gusinsky V.A. using fraud, facilitated the transfer of the right of property of this building to commercial organizations under control of Khodorkovsky M.B. In such a way, Khodorkovsky M.B. managed to hide part of the embezzled sum of money”.
The deal, as it was pointed out in the materials of the case, was dubious, yet it became possible on the strength of the agreement between Khodorkovsky and Gusinsky. Unlike the leadership, on executant level, “both sides of the operation were dummy and dependent legal entities that didn’t know anything about the character and purpose of the carried out operations”, was said in the verdict.
Thus, according to the court, Khodorkovsky M.B., managing the organized group, illegally and free of charge withdrew and turned to the benefit of Gusinsky V.A. 2 649 906 620 rubles belonging to OJSC NK Yukos and structures under its control, and, by doing so, inflicted damage to owners of these means”, notes the website Prigovor.ru.
(See also the previous article “On this day, Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were found guilty of pulling off a tax affair”. A tax crime to the total amount of 17 billion 395 million 449 thousand 282 rubles. The website Proigovor.ru reminds its readers of what happened on May 26, 2005).
*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.