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Why the former head of the Russian Railways Vladimir Yakunin found himself in the hotspot with the British press?
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The former president of JSC Russian Railways Vladimir Yakunin gave an unexpected interview to the British BBC television channel. In fact, we can assume that he responded to the investigation of Alexei Navalny, published in 2015. What prompted Yakunin to publicly recall the stories about the "storage pits" and the British passport of his eldest son, Andrei?

In a conversation with the host of the Hard Talks program, Stephen Shakur, the former president of the Russian Railways called the story of the "storage pile" in his former estate near Moscow "anecdote" and "fiction". According to Vladimir Yakunin, it was "just a small room where the furs were kept." At the same time, the former head of the state corporation admitted that his eldest son Andrew lives in London and some time ago received British citizenship.

Yakunin insists: the Russian authorities were notified of this "in due course". Therefore, contrary to rumors, the departure of his son to England in a difficult foreign policy environment for Russia should not be considered the reason for his father's resignation as head of the Russian Railways. Vladimir Yakunin also confirmed that his son bought a mansion in London for 5 million pounds. But, from his words, elite real estate was bought for honestly earned money - supposedly for this Andrei Yakunin had to even take out loans. In general, the former head of RZD believes that the lifestyle of his son in the capital of the United Kingdom "is not very different from how other people live here." True, the presenter
Stephen Shakur did not agree with this.

The interest of the British press to the elite real estate of Andrei Yakunin is easy to explain. The country continues to actively discuss the investigation of the so-called "Moldovan scheme" of laundering and the withdrawal of Russian money to the West. In the history there are names of people who could be closely connected with Yakunin not only by workers, but also by personal relationships. It is possible that the information that the 17 largest banks in the UK should reveal in the near future will supplement this matter with new interesting details.

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The existence of the "Moldovan scheme" became known in 2014 from the publications of the International Project on Investigation of Corruption and Organized Crime
(OCCRP) and Novaya Gazeta. Law enforcement authorities of Russia, Moldova and the Baltic States called it the largest in the history of the CIS operation on laundering of shadow capital. It is established that through $ 20 billion, but in reality the amount could be four times higher.

Many Russian and European banks participated in the scheme. In March 2017, the British financial regulator FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) began in connection with this check of the 17 largest credit institutions of the country and their branches abroad. One of the links in the chain through which money was withdrawn from Russia was a respectable Deutsche Bank. In late May, the US Federal Reserve fined him $ 41 million for inadequate control over dubious financial transactions of clients.

However, despite the large number of participants in different countries, the "Moldovan scheme" was arranged very simply. One offshore company was lending money to another offshore company. The guarantor under the loan agreement was a Moldovan citizen, and the guarantor is a company registered in the Russian Federation. After the borrower did not return the money to the creditor, proceedings began in a foreign court, following which the guarantor from Russia transferred money abroad. All these actions are absolutely legal, if not for fictitious loan agreements, issued between firms-one-day.

But how can this whole story be connected with Vladimir Yakunin and the former leadership of RZD? The answer is simple: OCCRP named the names of the final beneficiaries of the "Moldovan scheme", among them is the Russian businessman Alexei Krapivin - the son of adviser Vladimir Yakunin in the "Russian Railways" Andrei Krapivin. During Yakunin's work in RZhD, the firms that are considered to be controlled by Krapivin, Jr., became the largest contractors of the state corporation. It was these companies that received contracts to equip the East RZD landfill with a cost of 184 billion rubles and orders for the design of railway facilities for 150 billion rubles.

According to the publication Beobachter, Krapivin accounts in Switzerland was almost half of the $ 600 million transferred to this country through a "laundry". This means that the European financial authorities may have questions to Krapivin and not only to him. The eldest son of Vladimir Yakunin, apparently, also had something to do with business around the railway.

Dissolved in the London fog

In his interview with the BBC, Vladimir Yakunin in 2014, said that his son Andrew went to the UK. It was the young businessman's own decision, it is connected with his "investment activity". However, Andrei Yakunin's business activity in the United Kingdom began much earlier. As of 2009, he headed the investment company Venture Investments & Yield Management (VIYM), which is located in London, but is engaged in development projects in Russia.

One of such projects was the creation of the Regional Hotel Network (RGS) - the largest in Russia chain of medium-priced hotels, many of which are located near the central stations in different cities. According to the Reuters agency, during the work of Vladimir Yakunin in the "Russian Railways" RGS, it seems, was closely connected with the "daughter" of the state corporation - the company "Zheldoripoteka". It was this company that could help the Regional Hotel Network in obtaining profitable real estate near railway facilities.

Be that as it may, the British Financial Regulation and Supervision Authority sent inquiries to 17 of the largest banks in the Kingdom about their possible role in processing payments for hundreds of millions of pounds between 2010 and 2014. It is possible that in the near future, bankers will share FCA with interesting information about the financial operations of the structures, which are apparently close to the major RZD contractors during the period of work in the state corporation Vladimir Yakunin. Perhaps that is why he hastened to tell the BBC about the "small pantry" instead of the "storage bin" and the loaned mansion of his son in London.