Andrei Pavlov fled from Kazakhstan

As a struggle between Kazakh security officials in the course of the proceedings over BTA Bank, it went sideways for one of the participants in the “Magnitsky case”.
There is such an unofficial profession in Russia and in the former Soviet space - a person who solves questions, or, more simply, a decision maker. He usually uses his extensive connections with influential people for his own purposes and in the interests of clients from among businessmen or officials. Our lobbying is almost unregulated, so the reshalker is in partial shade. And from time to time he gets into high-profile criminal cases showing how important the gear is in the mechanism of making state decisions. And this is not limited to Russia.

Last year, in the Medeu district of Almaty, a case of embezzlement in a Kazakh BTA bank and a bribe was heard. The former senior assistant to the Prosecutor General of Kazakhstan, Ulukbek Maksatbekuul, was accused. This case is interesting because one of the key witnesses there was a Russian citizen, lawyer Andrei Pavlov, the hero of numerous publications by Novaya Gazeta, the person involved in the “Magnitsky case”. In the testimony of the Kazakh court, Pavlov himself told in detail how he bribed the prosecutor and received state contracts through communications, not only in Russia, but in Kazakhstan. The court also mentioned the stolen correspondence of a lawyer, which Novaya Gazeta wrote about in 2017; At the trial, Pavlov did not deny the authenticity of the letters. Using the example of the BTA Bank case, we describe how informal communications work among Kazakh security officials, who differ little from Russian ones in principle.

Lawyer Andrei Pavlov has been mentioned in the last ten years in connection with controversial criminal cases in Russia, the loudest of which was the “Magnitsky case”. In 2017, Novaya Gazeta wrote in detail how a simple corporate lawyer, Andrei Pavlov, thanks to connections in the investigative bodies and the court, was able to become an influential person in Russia. Then “Novaya” had at her disposal a correspondence of a lawyer who showed how, at his request, criminal cases were initiated or questions were “resolved” in arbitration courts. Pavlov tried to stop the publication by filing a lawsuit against the newspaper and journalists in the Basmanny Court, but to no avail. Neither in the interview to Novaya Gazeta, nor in the court, Pavlov did not give a definite answer about the authenticity of the hacked correspondence. Now the same letters are attached as evidence to the court materials in Kazakhstan.

In May 2018, the sentence was pronounced against Ulukbek Maksatbekuulu - the former assistant to the Prosecutor General of Kazakhstan and the former member of the board of BTA Bank. He was accused of embezzling state property while working at a bank and receiving a bribe after he went to work at the republic’s prosecutor’s office. In this case, Pavlov was detained and interrogated in Kazakhstan. Investigators seized and examined the lawyer’s personal computer and found the same letters about which Novaya Gazeta wrote. At trial and on confrontations with the defendant, Pavlov confessed that he had bribed Maksatbekuulu and used personal connections in order to get contracts from a Kazakh state bank.

“Failure would definitely ruin our relationship”

“Approximately, on September 9–10, 2014, Maksatbekuulu U. asked me by phone to pay for his education in the amount of $ 10,000, due to the fact that he was leaving for the UAE,” said Pavlov during interrogation. - We did not have a detailed discussion of this issue, but I did not deny it to him. Given my earnings, this amount is less sensitive for me than I thought for Maksatbekuulu. At the same time, refusal would definitely spoil our relationship, and taking into account the official position of Maksatbekuulu, this could damage my reputation and future activities both in the General Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Kazakhstan and among the consultants who work with the Republic of Kazakhstan. ”

According to the testimony of Pavlov himself, the Assistant Prosecutor General of Kazakhstan forwarded to the lawyer an invoice of 10 thousand dollars from the MBA Prime Prep gmat & MBA admission cossulting school to his personal mail. Pavlov, without asking too many questions, paid for it.

After Pavlov's correspondence got into open access, information about tuition at a business school appeared in the Kazakh press, and the general prosecutor's office even conducted an office check on Maksatbekuulu.

Then the assistant prosecutor asked Pavlov to write an explanatory note stating that he had returned the tuition fees to the lawyer in cash. At the trial, the lawyer admitted that he really wrote this note, but “in fact, Maksatbekuulu U. never gave him any money and, as he understood, he was not going to return them,” the case file says.

The service check passed without consequences for Maksatbekuulu, and Pavlov continued to provide him with delicate services. For example, in April 2016, the Assistant Attorney General asked to buy him tickets in business class, because he did not want to go on a business trip to Paris in economy, a few months later, in October 2016, Maksatbekuulu asked Pavlov to pay for his New Year holiday in Finland.

“According to Pavlov’s testimony, he and Maksatbekuulu U. did not have a detailed discussion of the question of why he should pay for his studies and air tickets, but he did not refuse him that.

He simply believed that his refusal would ruin their relationship, ”the court said.

Pavlov’s relations with officials in Kazakhstan, whom he was so afraid to spoil, had been built since 2009, when his law office Quorum received a contract from the state-owned BTA bank for legal support in returning the bank’s assets.

Pavlov's testimony about how his office got this contract may be interesting. Especially considering that in Russia, the Quorum law office closely cooperates with the state Deposit Insurance Agency, which protects deceived depositors of Russian banks already.

Bank case

In February 2009, the Kazakh authorities announced that one of the largest banks in the country, BTA, is in critical condition and needs financial assistance. According to the authorities, the former chairman of the board and the owner of the bank, Mukhtar Ablyazov, committed embezzlement in the bank worth several billion dollars.

To save the interests of investors, the government of Kazakhstan bought 75% of the bank.

Ablyazov fled the country, declared himself a political émigré and was granted asylum in the UK, and now lives in France. In the summer of 2017, he was convicted in absentia in Kazakhstan and sentenced to 20 years in prison,

but the authorities of Kazakhstan have not been able to extradite the runaway banker. The extradition of Ablyazov was also unsuccessfully demanded by Russia and Ukraine.

After Ablyazov escaped to BTA, which actually became a state, work began on the return of assets, a separate department was created for these purposes. True, according to the plot of the indictment of the Medeu court of Astana, the staff of this department did not care much about the return of assets, but did something else. A senior employee of the department Ulukbek Maksatbekuulu (who will later become an assistant to the Prosecutor General of Kazakhstan) entered into contracts with legal advisers without any competition and paid large amounts of advance payment, and also reimbursed the allegedly incurred expenses without any confirmation from them. Whether Maksatbekuulu himself received any benefit from this, the court’s verdict does not say.

But the total amount of embezzlement of public funds, according to the verdict of the court, is about 7 million dollars.

One of these consultants was Quorum law firm, Andrei Pavlov - its managing partner. He received and, by his own admission, used for personal purposes 700 thousand dollars in advance from BTA. At trial, Pavlov claimed that he repented of his deed and indemnified the damage to the bank.

Pavlov also said that in order to get a contract, he had to visit the office of the head of the presidential administration Aslan Musin several times and then seek the help of a Russian businessman with Kazakh roots Vasily Anisimov, who was interested in Ablyazov’s Russian assets.

Asset recovery

Prior to repurchase by the state welfare fund of Kazakhstan, BTA was active in Russia. There was a representative office of the bank, Ablyazov himself invested in Russian business projects, mainly related to real estate: a business and shopping and entertainment center with an aquarium on Poklonnaya Hill, the Eurasia tower in Moscow-City, a shopping center under Paveletskaya Square, a warehouse complex and construction project of the whole city in Domodedovo. These projects were financed by loans from the same BTA. Ablyazov's personal projects in Russia were hoping to get the bank for debts to the bank. To this end, criminal cases and arbitration proceedings were launched in Russia. Pavlov and his Quorum law office helped new representatives of the bank during these proceedings, Pavlov himself told about this during a criminal case in Kazakhstan.

“In 2009, Amzeyev Sh. Addressed him (Pavlov. - O.Sh.) with a request to assist in initiating criminal proceedings against M. Ablyazov, since he (Amzeev. - O.Sh.) at that time represented interests JSC "BTA Bank", - stated in the decision of the Kazakh court. Probably, the document is about Shakizat Amzeev. In the publication “Vedomosti” he is called “the acquaintance of the head of the presidential administration of Kazakhstan Aslan Musin”. Also in a conversation with the "New" speak about him people close to Mukhtar Ablyazov.

Novaya Gazeta wrote in detail in the publication “Andrey Pavlov, Comrade and Partner” about what kind of help Pavlov provided to his Kazakh colleagues. The lawyer was in correspondence with several investigators in the case; it follows from the letters that he actually coordinated the procedural documents, for example, threw an indictment against one of the defendants in the investigation into one of the most notorious trials involving Ablyazov in Russia, the Eurasia Logistics case.

Four top managers of a logistics company from the business empire Ablyazov were accused of fraud and sentenced to 7 years in prison.

“In principle, the whole case was necessary as a factor of pressure on the leadership of Eurasia Logistics in order to obtain evidence on Ablyazov. Even during the preliminary investigation, the investigator Urzhumtsev said that he needed only testimony on Ablyazov, that he was not at all interested in what the suspects did or did not do, ”the defendant’s lawyer Yury Gervis said in an interview with Novaya Gazeta. The convicts themselves didn’t want to talk to Nova.

"Work on the return"

Immersed in the case of BTA Bank, Pavlov, by his own admission, “decided to officially represent the interests of BTA in returning assets”.

Ablyazov took out loans in his own bank against the security of business assets. The bank hoped to get these assets into its possession, sell it profitably and thus restore its financial position. The bank hired various legal offices in Russia to represent the interests of the bank in arbitration courts. The work of such consultants, as a rule, was paid as a percentage of the value of the asset in the event of a successful return, or as a percentage of the asset paid "in kind".

In his testimony to the Kazakh investigation, Pavlov tells in detail how he got the contract from the bank.

“He turned to Amzeyev Sh. On this occasion, who offered to get a contract through the head of the presidential administration of Kazakhstan, Musin Aslan Espulaevich. At the same time, Amzeev S. in the soonest possible time organized a meeting with Musin A. in his office in Ak-Orda. They met this way 3-4 times, ”the documents of the Kazakh court say from the words of Pavlov himself.

At the same time, the law on public procurement of the Republic of Kazakhstan, as in Russia, requires a competition, publicity and transparency, and fair competition in determining suppliers.
However, as Pavlov says, the meetings with the head of the presidential administration were not effective. “After that, he began to look for other ways out to conclude an agreement, in connection with which he turned to Russian businessman Anisimov Vasily Vasilyevich for help. He told him what objects in Russia BTA Bank has and for which there is interest to work on collecting them for subsequent receipt of a stake in them. Anisimova V.V. This proposal interested. "

Vasily Anisimov is among the 200 richest Russians in the Forbes version. He is the owner of the development company Coalco, and the assets that might interest him are land in the Domodedovo district of the Moscow region. The BTA leadership was determined to receive for its debts several dozen land plots with a total area of ​​more than two thousand hectares under the common name “Western Domodedovo”. Ablyazov’s company planned to build an entire city in Eurasia City in these territories. It is these assets that the lawyer Pavlov was supposed to return under the contract with BTA.

“The construction project of Eurasia-City was interesting, noticeable on the market,” recalls Maxim Leshchev, CEO of GeoDevelopment, operating in the Moscow region. “I think that in 2008-2011 his land could cost up to 4 thousand dollars for a hundred, if I bought in bulk, that is, I would estimate the whole piece of land at more than half a billion dollars.”

"Quorum" and 5 percent

Under the contract for the return of the asset, Pavlov should have received 5% of the value of the land.

As stated in the materials of the Kazakh court, Anisimov introduced Pavlov to "a major businessman in Kazakhstan," Alexander Klebanov, who "has extensive contacts in state bodies of the republic." Klebanov introduced Pavlova to the deputy chairman of the state welfare fund, who instructed the BTA leadership to conclude a contract with the Quorum.

According to Pavlov, half of the revenues received under the contract “Korum” should have been given to Anisimov and Klebanov.

Coalco Anisimova is a major player in the Domodedovo area. Now the company owns the residential complex “Bolshaya Domodedovo”, several cottage settlements along the Kaluga highway and along the “Don” highway, as well as 17 hectares of undeveloped land. “Anisimov bought more than 20 thousand hectares of former collective farm lands in the early 2000s,” says Maxim Leshchev, General Director of GeoDevelopment. - It was a very profitable business. Then the status of the land was very easy to change from agricultural purposes to land for housing, with people making billions. At the same time, the lands of Ablyazov were closer to Moscow than the lands of Anisimov. ”

Conflict of security forces

Pavlov's law firm has not completed the process of returning the land. “Consideration of the claims was delayed due to the need to notify the defendants located in the Netherlands and the Seychelles, who were directly borrowers of receiving loans from BTA,” said Pavlov at the trial. And when it was not possible to get the land quickly, Pavlov asked for an advance payment of 700 thousand dollars.

In Pavlov's correspondence (available at Novaya Gazeta) there is a detailed substantiation of the amount of the advance payment, for example, Quorum was going to spend 400 thousand rubles on extracts from the unified register of legal entities (extracts can be obtained free of charge on the tax website), 550 thousand rubles on extracts from Rosreestr on the transfer of rights to land plots (one statement on the Rosreestr website costs 1 ruble, that is, this money could be used to order information about 550 thousand land plots).
“The money received from BTA Bank <...> was spent on the companies own needs. In fact, the work and services were not performed, ”the court said.

A source familiar with the case file said that Pavlov’s detention in Kazakhstan happened during the intensification of the struggle for power between the Kazakh security forces. According to the interlocutor of “Novaya”, their struggle escalated after Kazakhstan suffered a final defeat in the case of Ablyazov’s extradition - the French State Council decided to release the fugitive banker from custody. Kazakhstan began to understand whose fault it is. “As a result, with the filing of the Ministry of Justice and the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, a version emerged that prosecutors and lawyers are to blame, who were interested only in money,” says a Novaya interviewee.

According to the source, the investigators did not care about Pavlov himself, only the necessary evidence was required of him. No charges were filed against him. After the testimony was received, Pavlov was allowed to leave Kazakhstan. In turn, from the assistant prosecutor general demanded indications on the Deputy Prosecutor General of Kazakhstan Andrei Kravchenko. And from that, apparently, they were planning to get evidence on the prosecutor general himself, the interlocutor of Novaya believes. As a result, only the assistant was convicted.

This version is confirmed by people from the circle of Ablyazov, with whom Novaya Gazeta spoke. According to them, after Ablyazov fled, Kazakhstan invested huge sums in the pursuit of a runaway banker around the world. “Huge money poured into BTA for the return of assets, with no significant results. At some point, they began to look for the guilty, the interlocutor believes. - The case should have been Deputy Prosecutor General Andrey Kravchenko (removed from office in 2017. –O.Sh.) and former Attorney General Askhat Daulbayev himself (removed from office in 2016. –O.Sh.), but they found patrons, so the scapegoats were made by Maksatbekuulu and another employee of the asset recovery department of BTA, Elena Molchanova. ”

Former Prosecutor General Daulbayev, after his resignation, got a place in the State Council of Kazakhstan, his deputy Kravchenko works as a lawyer in the National Welfare Fund.

Pavlov's law firm, Quorum, still accompanies the bankruptcy of banks — already Russian ones.

In 2018, Quorum was once again certified by the State Deposit Insurance Agency (DIA), which protects depositors of failed Russian banks. Moreover, the selection rules, for example, say that companies that have problems with business reputation cannot work with DIA.

According to the calculations of Novaya Gazeta, Quorum is involved in the bankruptcy of at least 10 banks and receives each from 500 thousand to 3.5 million rubles monthly and up to 15% of the returned property.

The “success fees” paid to lawyers in the event of a victory in legal disputes often have a double bottom in the context of use by government agencies. This creates fertile ground for corrupt practices, since an official, defining a “success fee,” can theoretically pawn his interest in him, ”believes Ilya Shumanov, deputy director of Transparency International. - The story of Pavlov tells us that a similar practice could be used in a case with the recovery of assets belonging to the Kazakh bank BTA. However, in the role of recipients of the “reward” part for a lucrative contract in this case, there are not officials who have decided to conclude a contract with Pavlov, but influential businessmen who have direct access to top officials in Kazakhstan. Due to the similarity of state models of Russia and Kazakhstan, it cannot be excluded that similar schemes were implemented in our country. My suspicions are strengthened by the fact that the Quorum company, managed by Pavlov, actively participates in litigations, representing the interests of the state corporation DIA. ”