As it became known to Kommersant, an unexpected turn occurred in the case of the ex-head of the Cosmos NGO, Andrei Chernyakov, who was accused in absentia of stealing a multi-billion dollar loan from the Bank of Moscow for the completion of the Alabyano-Baltic tunnel and other crimes. Having already decided to extradite a well-known entrepreneur to Russia, the Polish authorities changed their position, finding that Mr. Chernyakov, as a person claiming refugee status, should be sent to Germany, where he has a residence permit and can be released from custody .
The decision to send Andrei Chernyakov to Germany was taken by the head of the Dublin agreements department of the Office for Foreigners of Poland Olympia Zukai. Considering the application for refugee status to Andrei Chernyakov, the official and her subordinates established that the businessman has a valid residence permit in Germany. It should be noted that according to the 1990 Dublin Convention, which determines the state responsible for examining asylum applications filed in one of the European Community member countries, any residence permit is recognized as a residence permit with the exception of visas. Article 5 of the convention states that if the asylum seeker has a valid residence permit, the responsibility for examining his application lies with the EU Member State that issued the original document.
Referring to the provisions of the convention, Olympia Zukai rejected Andrei Chernyakov’s request for refugee status. In her decision, the official indicated that in accordance with Art. 29 of the European Parliament and Council Regulation No. 604/2013, the transfer of Mr. Chernyakov to Germany “must be implemented as soon as possible, as far as practically possible, but no later than July 31, 2019”.
In her decision, the official also indicated that it could be appealed by Mr Chernyakov with the head of its administration and the Polish Refugee Council, which is the appellate court.
In the event of agreement with the dispatch to Germany, the Polish authorities guaranteed Andrei Chernyakov payment of administrative fees associated with obtaining travel documents, visas and other permits, meals on the road and medical services that he might need.
According to the defense of the ex-head of the NGO Cosmos, on January 15, the very next day after the refusal of the decision, he addressed the head of the Polish Office for Foreigners with a statement in which he indicated that he had refused to appeal and that he wished to voluntarily go to Germany. When exactly a businessman leaves Poland and in what form his “transfer” to another country will be carried out, it is not yet clear - yesterday he remained in a Warsaw prison. At the same time, Ruslan Koblev, a Russian lawyer of the ex-head of the Cosmos NGO, expressed the hope that in Germany his client would be released from custody, as he was under arrest for more than a year while awaiting extradition to Russia.
Recall that Andrei Chernyakov was detained while passing border controls before flying to Kiev from Warsaw airport in December 2017. He presented the Romanian passport to the border guards, which aroused their suspicions. Checking its owner, the border guards found out that he was on the international wanted list, initiated by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia.
In Poland, the ex-head of the NGO Cosmos came by car from Potsdam, Germany, where he has a house. In Germany, he fled from the UK. Representatives of the Bank of Moscow (now BM-Bank, part of the VTB Group) filed a lawsuit with the businessman in the High Court of London to disclose its assets, which were to be levied to cover debts. Andrei Chernyakov refused to do this, hiding from justice in a van with furniture. In London, for contempt of court, he was assigned two years in prison in absentia.
Last fall, the District and Appeal Courts of Warsaw granted the request of the Prosecutor General’s Office of Russia to extradite Andrei Chernyakov. The extradition was to be approved by the Minister of Justice of Poland, when another request came from the Russian Federation to the former head of the Cosmos NGO. The first, under the auspices of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, was connected with charges of a businessman in especially large-scale fraud (part 4 of article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) and fraud in the field of credit (part 4 of article 159.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). According to investigators, he received a loan from the Bank of Moscow to complete the construction of the Alabyano-Baltic tunnel, he sent part of the funds to other projects, including the construction of the Judo Academy in Zvenigorod near Moscow. As a result, the loan was not repaid, and NGO debts to the bank exceeded 30 billion rubles. At the same time, the personal debt of Chernyakov, the guarantor, exceeded 15 billion rubles, and the damage caused by fraud at a sports facility amounted to about 30 million rubles.
The second request, initiated by the Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee of Russia (TFR) in the Sverdlovsk Region, dealt with the non-payment of salaries in subsidiary NGOs (Article 145.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation), which sent workers from Yekaterinburg to Moscow, as well as another fraud on 2.5 billion rubles with the same loan of the Bank of Moscow. As a result, the extradition of Andrei Chernyakov was postponed until the consideration of a new request, which was used by the defense, which recommended the businessman to apply for refugee status.
While the proceedings were proceeding in Poland, lawyer Koblev appealed to the Prosecutor General’s Office of Russia, asking her to help unite these cases and transfer them to the Investigation Committee, which was done. Now, according to the defense, the investigator from the upstream 4th Investigation Department of the SSU TFR with dislocation in Yekaterinburg takes the materials into its production. The transfer of his client from Poland to Germany, the defender said, does not mean that Russia will automatically be denied his extradition. The relevant process can be started anew, after the documents on the already consolidated case in the Prosecutor General's Office are translated into German, having been sent to Germany. However, it may take several months. Andrei Chernyakov himself expressed the intention to voluntarily return to Russia if he received assurances from the Prosecutor General’s Office and business ombudsman Boris Titov that he would not be taken into custody during the investigation and trial, making it possible to prove his innocence free. “Kommersant” does not have the comments of law enforcement agencies involved in criminal prosecution and extradition of Andrei Chernyakov.