MOSCOW, September 11 (RAPSI) - A court in Solnechnogorsk, a town near Moscow, will begin hearing on the merits of a case over tax evasion  and attempted fraud against businessman Konstantin Ponomarev already convicted of false denunciation on September 16, his attorney Vladimir Postanyuk has told RAPSI.

On September 10, the court conducted preliminary hearing on the case.

Defense insisted on the businessman’s innocence and did not petition for the case transfer to another court, Postanyk said.

Investigators believe that after one of the victories in court against IKEA Ponomarev’s company received 25 billion rubles from the furniture corporation and the businessman transferred the money to his own bank account. In this situation, he was to pay income taxes and VAT but failed. Thus, the total amount of unpaid taxes was estimated as 9.7 billion rubles, according to the investigation.

Ponomarev and his defense insist in turn that the company did not simply transfer the funds but transferred them in accordance with a custodial services contract. Therefore, an income tax must not be demanded by officials.

A second count is related to the lend lease of diesel generators for prime power organization in Crimea. Investigators claim that the entrepreneur demanded over 5.4 billion rubles in court from lease takers.

This is the second case against Ponomarev.

On July 9, 2019, a court in Lyubertsy, a town in the Moscow Region, found Ponomarev guilty of false denunciation and passed the sentence on him. His lawyer Maxim Zagorsky received 7 years and 8 months behind bars. He was also banned from practicing law for 3 years. A judge held that the defendants committed several crimes related to evidence simulation. The attorney was an organizer of the criminal group, the ruling read.

In mid-October 2019, the Moscow Regional Court recalculated the term of actual punishment given to Ponomarev and reduced it by 6.5 months. Actual punishment of Zagorsky in the case was also recalculated. The sentence came into force.

The trial of Ponomarev and Zagorsky began in December 2018.  Investigators considered initiation of criminal proceedings by a private person on Ponomarev’s appeal as false denunciation.

The defendants pleaded not guilty and insisted on acquittal.

Ponomarev was embroiled in a long-standing dispute with IKEA that opted to rent diesel generators to power its shopping malls in St. Petersburg. Five criminal cases were opened against the businessman at the request of the Swedish retailer. However, a probe over alleged fraud found nothing, and the cases were dropped.

The businessman believes that the false denunciation case was resulted from the conflict with IKEA. Ponomarev claims that the company thus wants to stretch the time and siphon assets in order to avoid paying a multibillion debt to him.