Had there been the "media hero of the month" category in our country, the Russian emigre billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev would have undoubtedtly won it in October this year. At first, the oligarch was in the center of a scandal which had been analyzed by Novaya Gazeta in details. The newspaper published new revelations on theft of € 3 billion from Vneshprombank.
It turned out that among other things the money was stolen from the accounts of relatives of the highest elite of Russia: the former head of the Presidential Administration Sergey Ivanov, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak and the head of state-owned Transneft Nikolay Tokarev.
A few days after the publication, a request to Prosecutor General Yury Chaika appeared on the website of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The document commands to check the circumstances of the accident in 2006, in the Rybolovlev's company Uralkali, which caused that the city of Berezniki, Perm Krai, started to shift underground.
Vneshprombank crashed in January 2016. At the same time it was found out that 215 billion rubles disappeared from bank accounts, which marked the end of Russia's largest financial pyramid. The fraud was compared to American Bernard Madoff pyramid. He cheated around 3 million people and hundreds of financial institutions to the amount of $ 64.8 billion for which he was sentenced to 150 years in prison.
Russian "Madoffs", children of the killed mafia boss Alik Bedzhamov Larisa Marcus and Georgy Bedzhamov, stole more than € 3 billion in total from the largest Russian state corporations and the Kremlin elite. According to US standards, the money isn't big, but for Russia the theft of more than € 3 billion from VIP-clients in seemingly reliable banks came as a bombshell. In addition to the Ivanov, Kozak and Shoigu families, their own accounts in the bankrupt bank had the largest companies of the country, including Rosneft, Rosneftegas, Transneft. The Russian Olympic Committee and the Russian Orthodox Church also took a hit.
The guilty persons were found quickly: Larisa Marcus was detained in Moscow, and Georgi Bedzhamov managed to escape abroad, but was arrested in Monaco through Interpol. Usually, Monaco easily and quickly extradite Russian fugitives, but this time it never happened. The principality's court first refused to extradite the ex-owner Vneshprombank, citing his health problems, and then released him on bail.
Now Bedzhamov hides in England "for medical treatment", and in Monaco and Russia rumours have spread that the about the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev was involved into the miracluous liberation. The version in the above mentioned article in Novaya Gazeta, has been enriched by new authentic details. Well-informed sources have confirmed that "Dmitry was seriously involved into the situation" by using all his resources in the Principality of Monaco. What motivated the billionaire, apart from the general humanity?
Only the laziest person didn't write anything on the very close relationship between Mr. Rybolovlev and Prince Albert II of Monaco. They became friends because of football and this friendship resulted in the oligarch's acquisition of a controlling stake in a favorite Albert's toy: football club "Monaco", followed by multi-million infusions.
Much less is known about the strong-smelling corruption ties between the Russian billionaire and Albert's entourage: the head of the Justice Service of Monaco Philippe Narmin, the police chief of the principality Paul Masseronom and other officials, whose role in Bedzhamov's seems much less significant. At the same time, it was Monsieur Narmin who redirected the instructions from the Prince to all levels of law enforcement system of the principality, thus ensuring the release of a banker. Of course, not for his beautiful eyes. Through the law enforcement system corrupted by Rybolovlev, Bedzhamovu received an offer he could not refuse.
To leave the prison and ensure the immunity from extradition to Russia, the fugitive assumed the obligation to transfer € 300 million Rybolovlev. Initially, Bedzhamov proposed to his yacht Ester III as part of the payment; it was built on one of the best shipyards in the world, German Lurssen, for € 73 million euros, but faced a refusal. The experienced mogul had found out that the boat was pawned for € 55 million in BNP Paribas and therefore offered to sell it quickly, giving cash.
At first glance it is not clear why the former owner of Uralkali supported Bedzhamov. Of course, € 300 million is a lot of money, but Dmitry's fortune, according to different sources, is estimated at € 8-9 billion euros, and part of the fugitive's payment was transferred to the law enforces of Monaco. So was it worth it? Couldn't Dmitry Rybolovlev find less risky business?
The point is that the deal consisted of two parts. In addition to € 300 million, the fugitive banker agreed to hand over to his 'savior' an entire array of confidential data on the use of funds by Vneshprombank VIP-clients. Including all non-public information on transactions to offshore and other accounts of relatives of Kremlin officials.
Thus Rybolovlev put his hands on compromising materials which value can not be overestimated. But for what purpose he needed them? Gathering these materials is extremely dangerous. The last "collector", the oligarch Boris Berezovsky, ended up hanged in the bathroom of his own house.
Most likely, there are two reasons. Emigre Rybolovlev would like to take revenge on all those who remained at home, the entire Russian elite, which has not accepted him and, as he believes, squeezed him out of the country. Bedzhamov's story is a message to the powers that be in Russia: "If you want to keep money in Monaco or other Western banks, you should take me into account!" In addition, the tycoon wants to serve new masters, to whose friendship and support he's hoping for. We are talking about the Western intelligence agencies, which have been actively hunting for the foreign accounts of the Russian elite.
Those who closely know Rybolovlev aren't surprised by his desire to collect compromising materials in Monaco. He acted similarly in Cyprus, where being the largest shareholder of the Bank of Cyprus, he corrupted Attorney General, and other prominent representatives of the law enforcement agencies of Cyprus, to actively collect sensitive information about customer transactions and deposits of Cypriot banks.
One of the closest friends Rybolovlev also benefited from the operation to free Bedzhamov; the friend has been involved in all commercial transactions for many years. We are talking about the former governor of the Perm region, Minister of Natural Resources and the Assistant to the President of Russia, and now the Deputy Prime Minister and Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yuri Trutnev. About the "Perm tandem" of the Kremlin official and the oligarch it has recently been written no less than about the Monegasque duo of Rybolovlev and Prince Albert.
The already mentioned in the context of the presidential decree accident at the mine Uralkali in Berezniki casts a shadow not only on Rybolovlev, who officially was the sole owner of the plant at that time. Uralkali was not found guilty due to lobbying of Governor Trutnev. He saved the tycoon not only from the Kremlin anger, but from another prosecution. Trutnev has officially declared that "consideration of the guilt of Uralkali is hardly appropriate."
According to the informed sources from the nearest entourage of Rybolovlev, Deputy Prime Minister Trutnev has long been his business partner and had an equal share in Uralkali. After the sale of Uralkali for $ 9 billion, half of the money, according to the same sources, went to the high-ranking official.
Dmitry Rybolovlev's relocation to Europe slightly split the friends. If the emigre capitalist enjoys the patronage of foreign friends in his "possessions" in Monaco and Cyprus, the official permanently resides in the territory of the Russian Federation, as a rule in the White House or the Kremlin. However, for the true friendship the distance is no hindrance, especially if that friendship is based upon jointly gained billions and, possibly, criminal skeletons in the closet. Not surprisingly, every Rybolovlev's visit to Moscow is associated with the obligatory meetings and consultations with the senior companion.
What feelings experienced Yury Trutnev, regularly meeting his colleagues in the government, heads of state-owned companies and business leaders? That is, by the very people whose money was stolen by Bedzhamov & Co, and then moved to Mr. Rybolovlev's pockets, and, consequently, into the pockets of the envoy Trutnev. Does he share the joy of the vengeful partner of feel sympathy? Or maybe he is thinking to donate his share back to the affected families?
Hardly so. For partners in income are always partners in expenses. And as reported by portal Bellaciao.org and a number of western sources, Rybolovlev generously spend money to help the Maidan Ukraine. Dmitry made cash transactions through the accounts of his trustee, Tatiana Bersheda, the daughter of the former 1st Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Eugene Bersheda, known for his active anti-Russian position.
Probably Dmitry Rybolovlev so much identified himself with the role of "gray cardinal" of Monaco, that he had forgotten that he was still a citizen of the Russian Federation. And from the point of view of Russian law, he had violated several articles of the Criminal Code, by meddling with the investigation and preventing the action of justice against Bedzhamov, by participating in the embezzlement of funds of Vneshprombank's clients and performing actions against the geopolitical interests of the country. Perhaps it is time for the Russian law enforcement and security agencies to be interested in large-scale illegal activities of Mr. Rybolovlev.
It should be noted that the recent publications can be certainly regarded as a sufficient information basis for proper examination of the fugitive oligarch's actions as part of the criminal investigation.