The gaming empire of Anton Bazhanov surrendered the ransom

The criminal case of the largest network of underground casinos has been completed.
As Kommersant learned, the Main Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of Russia (GSU SKR) in Moscow completed an investigation into the criminal case on the organization of the largest underground casino network in the history of modern Russia. The Panorama system, which included several dozen clubs with slot machines, roulette tables and poker games, has been operating in the capital for three years. Its financial turnover can not be accounted for, but certainly in the billions - in any case, the shadow business allowed its owner to build legal casinos and shopping centers. 68 people are accused in the criminal community.

According to investigators, the shadow gambling empire was organized by Anton Bazhanov, a 45-year-old native of St. Petersburg, a professional poker player and at the same time a businessman with extensive experience in “creating and managing legal casinos”. He moved to the capital at the end of 2015, rented an office in the City of Capitals tower, Moscow City, and acquired Panorama LLC, which had a license for bookmaking and sweepstakes, through affiliated merchants. At the same time, Mr. Bazhanov, as follows from the prosecution, selected a team of specialists in organizing gambling; by his order, they rented premises in different areas of the city, bought playground equipment and hired maintenance staff. The organizer at the first stage completely took upon himself the financing of the project - so several dozen underground gambling halls appeared in the capital.

Since gambling is banned in Russia, the clubs decided to hide in the bookmakers operating under the signs of Panorama-owned brands: Winline, Unionbet and Greenbet.

According to participants in the investigation, their employees accepted bets on sports events that were allowed by law, declared revenues, and reported to tax authorities. Moreover, in the room adjacent to the tote, separated from it by a bar counter or an inconspicuous door, there were “forbidden” computers. The Gslot and GamingBox programs installed on them, as later determined by the expert examination, essentially transformed an ordinary-looking terminal into a “gaming machine with payment of cash rewards”, similar to the popular models manufactured by Novomatic AG (Austria) or Igrosoft LLC (Russia).

The client saw on the monitor rotating reels with pictures, a virtual keyboard simulating control keys of the machine, and the amount transferred to the administrator before the start of the game. Depending on the combination of pictures that fell out, the deposit made by the player increased or decreased, which, for obvious reasons, happened much more often.

An institution called “Savok” with 33 automatic computers was opened by Anton Bazhanov in the territory of the Savelovsky computer market. In an elite residential complex on Mosfilmovskaya Street, near the North Korean Embassy, ​​the Sever Club with 20 gaming terminals has appeared. Sufferers could try their luck on Zubovsky Boulevard, Zelenogradskaya, Novokosinskaya and Bakuninskaya streets, and the largest gambling establishment with 66 computers was located on Lublin Street and was obviously oriented towards numerous merchants from the neighboring Sadovod market and the Moscow trade fair complex .

Even then, according to the investigation, the turnover of the gambling network could be calculated in six-digit numbers; it was impossible to more accurately calculate the income of the shadow business, since only the work of the bookmakers was officially declared. The profit of gambling halls, according to witnesses, was formed in plastic bags, which were collected by the main collector of the network, Alexander Kudayarov, at night. In the trunk of a car, he transported cash to one of two additional Panorama offices - on Novosuschevskaya Street and Tsvetnoy Boulevard. In them, the investigation believes, the chief accountant Natalya Davydova formed the “cash desk”, which was controlled only by Anton Bazhanov.

It should be noted that earlier the police seized computers and detained the staff of such establishments. Then, in relation to their administrators, the regional departments of the Investigative Committee initiated criminal cases under Art. 171.2 of the Criminal Code (illegal organization of gambling). However, after an examination of computers, it usually became clear that there was no “gambling” software on them, and criminal cases had to be suspended.

As it turned out later, the network organizer and the IT specialists working for him had prepared for such incidents in advance. They put forbidden programs on a server connected to user terminals via Wi-Fi and hidden under the skin of the ceiling or even in the next room. After the search, the director of the hall simply pulled out the system unit and took him to another room, where a new conditional bookmaker would soon open. Thus, according to reports provided by the police and other authorities, illegal gambling establishments in Moscow were constantly closing, but their total number grew every day.

Following the computer rooms in the capital there were already real gambling. They were opened in the 1st Smolensky and Sechenovsky lanes, as well as at the very beginning of the Shchelkovo highway, installing in each club two or three dozen of these automatic machines FV-610 and FV-629 produced by Novomatic AG.

Finally, two full-fledged casinos became the “pearls” of the gaming empire of Anton Bazhanov: in house number 40 on Dolgorukovskaya street, where 67 slot machines, 3 poker tables and 5 tables for roulette were installed, as well as in house number 17/19 on Prechistenskaya embankment with approximately the same set of equipment.

The last institution, code-named "River", was especially popular and profitable. Pop stars, business representatives mentioned in Forbes lists, and Mr. Bazhanov himself rested on it.

Casinos, unlike gambling halls, were not disguised as bookmakers. “From the outside they looked like this: a metal door with an intercom, tightly curtained windows with bars, a dozen surveillance cameras and no signs,” one of the participants in the investigation shared with Kommersant. As law enforcement officers themselves admit, they have not been able to get to VIP establishments for a long time primarily because of the conspiracy system carefully organized by the organizer. It was possible to get into a closed club only on the recommendation of several trusted clients or close to the owner of a network of top managers.

By mid-2018, Panorama was at the peak of its shadow business, and its owner was flourishing. Anton Bazhanov, according to investigators, acquired several apartments in prestigious areas of the capital, a whole fleet of executive cars, invested in the construction of several shopping centers in the Moscow region and legal casinos in Russian Primorye and Belarus. One of them, “M1”, located in the Vitebsk region of Belarus on the highway of the same name, was completely controlled by the owner of “Panorama”. It is interesting that Mr. Bazhanov didn’t even notice the monthly cash thefts in the amount of 5-6 million rubles committed by the directors of at least the three most profitable clubs - the fraud was revealed only after the 2nd Directorate for Investigation took place investigation of especially important cases (UROVD) of the Main Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee in Moscow

The department is investigating corruption and economic crimes, including those related to the theft of budget funds during the implementation of state contracts in the defense industry complex. In addition, the 2nd UROVD investigates crimes related to the organization of illegal migration and gambling. Last year, its employees investigated more than 20 criminal cases of tax abuse, returning more than 5 billion rubles to the budget.

At the first stage, the city investigation had materials from several criminal cases initiated in the districts and districts, as well as numerous recordings of wiretapping of telephone conversations of Panorama employees. However, the general picture of the organization’s criminal activity did not fully develop. For example, the investigation could not establish the network owner for a long time.

As it turned out later, out of several hundred participants in the underground business, Anton Bazhanov was known in person and contacted only by a deputy, accountant, collector and two or three particularly close casino directors. For the rest, he was just the First.

It was not easy to track the whereabouts of the leader. He occasionally used a regular telephone only in the Moscow-City complex, which was literally stuffed with mobile phones, and the rest of the time he preferred satellite communications.

The investigation was able to find out the location of all points of the Panorama and get the installation data of all its participants by September 18, 2018. On this day, Pavel Kondratyev, the investigator for particularly important cases, who was appointed the head of the operational-investigative group in the Panorama case, recognized the head of the organization and his immediate environment as the organized crime community and opened a criminal case under the relevant Art. 210 of the Criminal Code. Criminal activity was also qualified under Art. 171.2 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation as an “illegal organization of gambling,” and the investigator considered Anton Bazhanov to be the creator and leader of the OPS.

Immediately after the initiation of the criminal case, a special operation to clean up the Panorama was carried out, unprecedented in its scope, in which 120 groups formed of investigators, employees of the K department of the SEB FSB, the GUEBiPK of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia and regional policemen participated. During the searches, more than 900 slot machines, poker tables and roulette tables, as well as converted computers, were seized. This time, the computer-technical examinations appointed by the investigation unequivocally established that all the seized equipment was gaming.

According to the materials of the final accusation, in addition to its alleged organizer Anton Bazhanov, the organized crime community included active participants from among the top managers of Panorama and heads of gambling halls - only 21 people. The middle managers of the gambling network, which included managers of gambling halls, IT specialists, dealers, croupiers and security guards, were charged only under Art. 171.2 of the Criminal Code.

On the property of Anton Bazhanov and his family members with a total value of about 500 million rubles. was seized.

Due to this, according to the investigation, the main defendant will be able to quickly pay the state if the court fines him. Law enforcers have justified the need for the seizure of property by the fact that, having material resources, Mr. Bazhanov may try to restore his gambling empire. Moreover, today he has all the opportunities for this - the recently alleged leader of the OPS and 23 accused were released from custody. The Moscow City Court motivated this, among other things, by the fact that the investigation was completed and there was no longer any sense for former prisoners to put pressure on witnesses or destroy evidence.

All the accused are now studying the materials of the 300-volume criminal case, in which their activities are called "grave mercenary crimes that undermine the economic foundations of the state." Anton Bazhanov and his probable accomplices disagree with the conclusions of the investigation for obvious reasons. In turn, the Main Investigative Directorate of the Investigative Committee in Moscow is convinced that the evidence gathered by the investigation will provide the court with a comprehensive and absolutely objective picture of the crimes committed. “The identified organized crime community had a pronounced hierarchical structure, a stable composition of participants and a single material and financial base,” the indictment says. “Its members were united by a single plan to extract criminal income from gambling, they acted in an organized and cohesive manner. All of them were aware of this common task of the criminal organization and their belonging to it. At the same time, each of the participants in the OPS understood his own role assigned specifically to him in committing crimes and voluntarily agreed to fulfill it. ”