Spanish and Austrian police detained a former senior official of the Russian Ministry of Culture in a money laundering case in Vienna. At the same time, his wife and son, living in Costa del Sol (province of Malaga), and their Spanish lawyer were detained in Spain. This was reported by the Spanish national police.
The names of the detainees in the message are not called. TASS, citing a source, reports that it is a former director of the Department of the Ministry of Culture, Boris Mazo, who was accused of fraud in absentia in Russia. According to the interlocutor of the agency, the detention of Maso was not at the request of Russia.
In turn, the Russian lawyer Maso Vladislav Musiyaka said that the ex-official "was not detained, but delivered by Austrian police for interrogation." “For what reason - I do not know. The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation knows where he is, they could contact him, ”said RIA Novosti.
All detainees are suspected of money laundering through the purchase of real estate for € 4 million in the resort city of Marbella, the Spanish police said. She emphasizes that her investigation established that the detainees used a complex money laundering scheme in the transaction, making it difficult to establish the legitimacy of their origin.
The Spanish Economic and Tax Crime Service (Unidad de Delincuencia Económica y Fiscal, UDEF) launched an investigation in July 2018 after it received a request from Russian law enforcement agencies regarding individuals who could have allegedly resided in the Costa del Sol. During the audit, the police found that the family of the former Russian official had been living in the municipality of Estepona on the Costa del Sol since at least 2015. In the same year, a luxury villa in Marbella was purchased for a legal entity registered with Russians in Spain, the report said. Payment for it in the amount of € 4 million was made from an account with a bank in Switzerland. A Spanish lawyer helped with the deal.
Searches in Marbella and Estepona were conducted in the case, including in the office of a law firm and in a villa. The property of the suspects was arrested, a car worth € 100,000, bank accounts and cash worth € 160,000, expensive jewelry, various documents, police said.
In Russia, Maso is involved in the theft of 450 million rubles allocated for the construction of a complex of buildings and the Hermitage’s storage facility. In this case, the court issued a warrant for his absentee arrest. In another case of major embezzlement in the Ministry of Culture - the so-called “case of restorers” - in 2017, Maso was sentenced to 1.5 years in prison and a fine of 250,000 rubles. He served this punishment during the preliminary investigation and trial, and after sentencing he left Russia.