MOSCOW, March 16 (RAPSI) - The Moscow City Court has upheld the extension of detention of Alexander Popov, the chairman of the board of Togliattikhimbank, until May 1, the senior investigator of the Investigative Committee of Russia for major crimes, Major General of Justice Mikhail Tumanov has told RAPSI.

The decision of the Basmanny District Court of Moscow, which had extended the preventive measure in the form of detention until May 1, have been upheld as lawful and justified, all the appeals of the defense have been dismissed.

Alexander Popov, the head of Togliattikhimbank, and other defendants in the criminal case, are charged with the organization and participation in the criminal community (part 3 of Article 210 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). Popov is also accused of an especially large-scale fraud case (Part 4 of Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) and non-payment of taxes in an especially large amount (Part 2 of Article 199 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation).

Earlier, Dmitry Tatyanin, Director of Legal Affaires, Uralchem Chemical JSC, said that “Uralchem, as an aggrieved party in several criminal cases related to the actions of the majority shareholders of Togliattiazot PJSC (TOAZ), is interested in conducting a thorough and complete investigation.”

He noted that the investigating authorities combined several episodes of the criminal activity of the main beneficiaries of Togliattiazot in a single criminal case, i.e. organizing or participating in a criminal community using their official position (part 3 of Article 210 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation), especially large-scale fraud committed by a group of preliminary conspiracy (part 4 of Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation), non-payment of taxes on an especially large scale (part 2 of Article 199 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). According to the lawyer, "this will allow the investigation to see the whole thing of the criminal activity of the defendants and give it an objective assessment."

The defendants developed and implemented complex illegal schemes for embezzlement of TOAZ export products, as well as illegally transferred a significant part of the production assets out ot the business. Tatyanin is sure, that it has caused multibillion-dollar damage to both Togliattiazot itself and its minority shareholders. The director hopes that “due to the work of investigative and judicial authorities, the damage to Togliattiazot and its minority shareholders will be compensated.”

Earlier it also became known that a criminal case had been initiated against Popov under part 3 of Article 30 and part 5 of Article 291 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (attempted bribery on an especially large scale).

The decision of institution of criminal case was signed by Tumanov, the senior investigator for particularly important cases, on January 24. Apart from Popov, the accused in the case are the owner of Togliattichembank and the main shareholder of Togliattiazot PJSC Sergey Makhlai, as well as Oleg Antoshin, the former head of the TOAZ security service. According to the investigation, the suspects tried to bribe the judges of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation in the amount of $ 1.2 million for canceling the decision to recover unpaid taxes from TOAZ.

According to the investigation, Popov personally selected the intermediaries in transferring the bribe to the judges. In October 2015, for execution of his criminal intent Popov organized a cash withdrawal in the amount of over $ 1.2 million via Togliattikhimbank, opening a bank cell and transferring cash to it. The intermediaries for the transfer of a bribe to the judges of the Supreme Court were promised a monetary reward. However, Popov, Makhlai and others failed to complete this corruption operation due to circumstances beyond their control.

High-profile case

In early July 2019, the Komsomolsky District Court of Togliatti issued a guilty verdict in a criminal case on the embezzlement of more than 85 billion rubles from TOAZ and its shareholders, in absentia recognizing Vladimir Makhlai, his son Sergei, ex-CEO of TOAZ Yevgeny Korolev and their Swiss associates Andreas Zivy and Beat Ruprecht guilty of this crime.

According to the conviction, the fraudsters sold at a reduced price all the TOAZ export products for the period from 2008 to 2011, to the Swiss offshore company Nitrochem Distribution AG led by Ruprecht. Nitrochem is known to be a part of the Zivi’s Ameropa AG holding. The Swiss then sold the same product at a market price.

The participants in the criminal scheme distributed profit among themselves, without paying any taxes on hidden profits to the Russian Federation.

The investigation believes that Popov played a key role in this fraudulent scheme that caused Togliattiazot such enormous damage. In Togliattichembank controlled by him, Popov managed a network of offshore companies affiliated with the accused persons, controlled their accounts and funds received from the illegal sale of products, and also ensured corruption cover for fraudulent schemes.

A criminal case under article 210 was initiated by the Investigative Committee on May 16, 2019. The investigation documents say that the perpetrators, "acting in the form of a structured organized group, committed several serious economic crimes against the state, the property of Togliattiazot and other persons in the period of 2005-2013."

Popov was arrested at Vnukovo Airport on May 31, 2019 and detained on the same day.

In addition, the investigation noted that Popov involved many companies, individuals, and mainly his subordinates dependent on him in the implementation of his criminal schemes. By ordering the extension of Popov’s arrest, the court agreed with the arguments of the investigation that, while at liberty, the accused could hide or destroy evidence, continue to engage in criminal activities, put pressure on witnesses and hinder the investigation.