MOSCOW, May 27 (RAPSI) – The Moscow City Court has extended detention of the former chairman of the board of Togliattikhimbank Alexander Popov until August 12 upon a motion of Russia’s Investigative Committee, RAPSI has learnt from the court’s press service.

On May 20, investigators brought bribery charges against Popov (Article 291.5 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). The Investigative Committee found that Popov was involved in an attempt to give a bribe in the amount of over $1.2 million to judges of the Supreme Court of Russia. According to the investigation, the severity of Popov’s act does not allow applying of any other measure of restraint, since he can put pressure on witnesses and destroy evidence if he does not stay in a pre-trial detention center.

Attorney Konstantin Ganderov sees “the situation of Alexander Popov as extremely difficult.” “Even if he cooperates with the investigation and acts properly in court, I can’t find reasons why he could expect less than 10 years in prison. Given the set of charges under the serious articles of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, he is likely to have a longer sentence, especially if new circumstances emerge,” the lawyer believes.

He is sure that the longer this case drags on, the more severe punishment for Popov can be. “The fact is that in recent years, the state course towards the decisive eradication of corruption by the most stringent measures has been more and more clearly traced, and there are no signs currently that this course will be mitigated in the future. Most likely, penalties for corruption crimes will soon become even tougher, while maintaining increased control over investigation into such cases and their consideration in court,” he said.

On January 24, Major General of Justice Mikhail Tumanov, Senior Investigator for Particularly Important Cases under the Chairperson of the Russian Investigative Committee, issued a decision to institute criminal proceedings against Popov, the owner of Togliattikhimbank and the main shareholder of PAO Togliattiazot Sergey Makhlai, the former head of the Togliattiazot security service Oleg Antoshin, and other unidentified persons since their actions contained signs of a crime under the Article 291.5 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

The decision says that in October 2015, the chairman of the board of Togliattikhimbank (Makhlai is the sole owner of the bank) Popov acting through his subordinates secured the cashing out and then depositing cash in the amount of $1,257,569 to the safe deposit box of Togliattikhimbank open for mediators in giving a bribe.

According to the investigation, through persuasion and bribery, Popov used to persuade the mediators to transfer an especially large bribe to the judges of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation.

Moreover, Popov and other persons involved in the criminal case are charged with organization and participation in a criminal community (Article 210.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). In addition, he is accused of committing an especially large-scale fraud (Article 159.4 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) and evasion of taxes in especially large amount (Article 199.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation).

In addition, in April, within the scope of this case, a former specialist in working with foreign partners of Togliattiazot and later General Director of OOO Kontaz (Togliattiazot’s subsidiary) Ksenia Balashova was arrested and sent to a pre-trial detention center for two months. She pleaded guilty, saying that she followed the direct instructions of her boss Vladimir Makhlai.

In December 2008, she sold more than 860,000 Togliattiazot shares for just one million rubles ($14,000) to the Cyprus offshore company Borgat Investments Ltd. controlled by Vladimir Makhlai. According to the investigation, the market value of this package at the time of sale was about 577 million rubles. The investigators believe that this company, together with OOO Rodnichok, evaded taxes for more than 320 million rubles. It can be expected that more than one member of this organized criminal group will be arrested, since about a dozen people are involved only in this episode of Popov’s “exploits”.