In an interview with the television channel Rain, Andrey Borodin for the first time referred to details of his getting political asylum in the United Kingdom and spoke about why he will not challenge the 2011 transaction of the sale of his share in the bank.
Zhelnov: Mr Borodin, how many criminal cases are currently open against you? One can get confused. The principal and the most notorious case is the misuse of powers in the issuance of a loan to the Premier Estate Closed Joint-Stock Company, in which Yelena Baturina, the wife of former Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov, was a witness. Now there is a new case about fraud, and there has also been a case of misappropriation of more than 600 million roubles. How many cases are there?
Borodin: There are five of them according to our count, although one cannot rule out that the investigators may have cases that they keep secret from us.
Zhelnov: Did you appeal the case related to Premier Estate after the investigators had concluded their job?
Borodin: The investigators have not concluded their job. The case is still being investigated; thus, it would be too early to say that the investigators are done with it.
Zhelnov: What is the time frame for the consideration of this case? Two years ago, the deadline for the investigators was July of 2012. Does this mean that the deadline is being constantly pushed back?
Borodin: Yes, the term of the investigation is being extended because none of the defendants is in custody and therefore the investigators can extend it almost indefinitely.
Zhelnov: Why is this being done? To drag out the case? It looks to me like everything has had to be investigated by now: the story with Premier Estate and the loan of 12.5 billion roubles is three years old. What in your opinion is the purpose of such a long consideration of the case?
Borodin: In my view, the investigators understand that the case stands very few chances even in a Russian court. My colleagues and I are charged with misappropriating a little over 11 billion roubles from the bank; the investigators have established that the money has gone to accounts of Yelena Baturina and two other former shareholders of the Inteko Company; the investigators have no questions to ask of those people or charges to bring against them.
As far as we know, the money has not been frozen and the police took no measures to arrest the funds until all the details have been clarified. Thus, it results that we have stolen the money, have given it to other people, these other people are feeling fine and we end up to be criminals. The situation is downright absurd. The case is fabricated and stands no chance in court in my view.
Zhelnov: When you refer to ‘other people’ to whom you have given the money, do you mean Yelena Baturina?
Borodin: Yes, I mean former shareholders of the Inteko Company.
Zhelnov: You said that these ‘other people’ are feeling fine. What do you mean: the fact that the investigators have left them in peace and Baturina together with Luzhkov do not even figure as witnesses in the Bank of Moscow case?
Borodin: I am unaware of the status of Baturina, but the available information shows that no charges have been brought against those people and their money is beyond reproach. If the investigators have no questions to ask of those in whose favour the money was stolen, it is clear that the case itself is fabricated and no logical full stop is possible. A logical full stop would be to dismiss the case, but the investigators cannot do that of course.
If an investigation goes on during four years and then it turns out that all this has been illegal, that it all was someone’s invention, I think that many people will be asked questions by their superiors about why money and the investigators’, the prosecutors’ and the experts’ time were being wasted for such a long time. I think that the investigators are in a very complicated situation and do not know what to do, and that is why these extensions are happening.
Zhelnov: The fact that the Investigation Department no longer has any questions to ask of Baturina (she paid a visit to Moscow once and at that time it was stated that she would not be figuring in the case, not even as a witness, let alone any change of status), as I understand from what you say, has in no way affected you and the case in general?
Borodin: It had to but it has not, due to what I have just said.
Zhelnov: You have said repeatedly that everything happening with respect to you and your partners is political persecution. If this is politics, what is the Russian side after, given the fact that you are already officially a political refugee and, understandably, the UK as a rule does not extradite those to whom it grants the status? What then are they after?
Borodin: I think that the system, once in motion, I mean the law-enforcement system, it, regrettably, must go full circle, as established as far back as in Stalin’s time. On the other hand, the fact that the UK has recognized our case to be a political one means nothing to the Russian authorities. Therefore, they continue their work without losing the hope to request extradition again one day.
I think that the investigators are under serious pressure from those who took part in the takeover of the Bank of Moscow, those whose role I later described in full. I am talking about former Russian president Medvedev, his advisor Yusufov, VTB bank chairman Kostin, Moscow mayor Sobyanin and several other people. I think that all these people are trying to exert pressure on the investigators in order to achieve the desired result.
Also, let us not forget about yet another fact: as is known, the state allocated huge amounts of money to achieve financial health of the Bank of Moscow. I have said repeatedly that the Bank of Moscow did not need any reorganization for financial-health reasons when I headed it, in the period when the bank was being taken over. Consequently, if the cases that are currently under way against us are closed, a question will inevitably arise about why and on what grounds the state allocated huge amounts of money and in whose interests was the money allocated. I think that many people have reasons to fear such a turn of events.
Zhelnov: You have repeatedly named former president Medvedev and former energy minister Igor Yusufov as well as VTB head Andrei Kostin in the context of the Bank of Moscow takeover and their being interested in such a takeover. Did the listing of those well-known names serve as grounds for the UK to grant you political asylum in 2013?
Borodin: I am not prepared to tell you how the British interior system works, because I have no idea of what is happening inside it. An individual who requests political asylum must file an application and attach to it all the documents that will prove that the story told did take place. It is then that appropriate services within the ministry decide whether or not that is true, whether or not they need to believe it. I think that by simply giving the names of high-level officials you do not guarantee a positive decision, but this is such a black box that a simple man is in no position to look inside it.
Zhelnov: What proofs do you have of that the persons you list are involved in your case? Apart from meetings with them and talks with Kostin, then still voluntary talks about VTB obtaining a share in the capital of the Bank of Moscow, what other evidence of involvement do you have, particularly, that of Medvedev?
Borodin: I would not like to describe in detail all the evidence that we handed over to the British authorities at this point, but I think that the fact that the government of the United Kingdom has made such a decision shows that we had good grounds to talk about involvement of those particular individuals in the takeover of the Bank of Moscow.
Zhelnov: Do I understand it correctly that the listing of those particular individuals became a weighty argument for the British side to grant you political asylum? Otherwise, where else is politics present then?
Borodin: The listing of those individuals together with available documentary evidence of their participation.
Zhelnov: What kind of evidence is that, if you could just name them, like audio recordings, videos? As I understand, you have never met or contacted with Medvedev at that period.
Borodin: I would not like to go into such details as the case is not closed yet and this can be used again.
Zhelnov: Used by whom – the British side or the Russian side?
Borodin: I may need that for certain litigations.
Zhelnov: After Vladimir Putin became president, did you try to seek a reconsideration of your cases, say through courts or through confidential conversations? For example, Yevgeny Chichvarkin, your colleague also residing in the UK, has said that Dmitry Medvedev has helped him in closing the criminal cases that were once opened against Yevroset. In your case, under president Putin, have you tried to take advantage of the fact that there is a new president now and somehow negotiate a settlement if you believe the case to be politically motivated?
Borodin: Do not forget that in addition to Medvedev there were also other people taking part, and those people are close to the current Russian president. Therefore, it would be rather senseless for me to address president Putin seeking reconciliation, all the more so since I do not consider myself to be guilty in any of the existing criminal cases. I think that I have made clear what side of the barricade I stand on.
Let us not forget that it was president Putin who at one time nominated Medvedev for the post. Therefore, everything happening takes place with the participation of certain figures, backed by a system. And the system has been built around president Medvedev or around president Putin or premier Putin. The system is honed to take away businesses and destroy people who disagree with some or other decisions concerning their businesses. You know that I have a system working against me, a system personified by certain figures. But I will repeat again: the system was put in place under a different person, not under Medvedev.
Zhelnov: I see. You are talking about your innocence, but everyone does that; not one person who has left for the UK talks about his being guilty, for understandable reasons. Nonetheless, your colleagues – the same Chichvarkin and the late Berezovsky – have claimed innocence and at the same time have tried to contact with the Russian leaders and fight for a chance to go back, either as a result of case closure or by writing letters, as in the case with Berezovsky. As I understand from what you are saying now, you dismiss all chances of returning to Russia.
Borodin: While the current regime is in power, I have no illusions about my going back to my country.
Zhelnov: Do you connect your case, the case of the Bank of Moscow, now that time has passed, with Luzhkov’s dismissal and the fact that Baturina and Luzhkov have in fact left the country, with Luzhkov being present now much more in London or Kaliningrad than in Moscow?
Borodin: No doubt, Luzhkov’s dismissal kicked off the attack on the Bank of Moscow as well as on other Moscow-based businesses. I think that the way Luzhkov was removed, with a big scandal, largely stimulated the attack on the Bank of Moscow. A man who during many years had been in high esteem, with a reputation, who had received numerous government awards, was thrown out in the matter of half an hour as one who had “lost trust and confidence.”
No doubt, that was an affront for the Kremlin. And, of course, such an affront had to be punished and punished not only with respect to the former Moscow mayor himself but also with respect to those people, those businesses that in the opinion of the Kremlin could later give Luzhkov political or financial support.
Zhelnov: Nonetheless, as we understand now, the investigators are not bringing any charges against either Luzhkov or Baturina and do bring them against you, rather specific charges.
Borodin: I can only guess why Yuri Luzhkov—
Zhelnov: Why? Tell us, it is very interesting.
Borodin: To my mind, the key to the solution of this could be found in the story with the sale of Inteko.
Zhelnov: Which is voluntary sale at a good price, as I understand from what you say. And what happens?
Borodin: The same was offered at the initial stage to me, when Yusufov on behalf of Medvedev said, “Sell this stake to me”—
Zhelnov: But you did want to sell your 20 per cent, you were voluntarily participating in the operation of the sale of your stake.
Borodin: Allow me to finish. I think that the recipe is always the same: you must do it, do it unquestioningly, sell at a price you are told, as a result of which you will be free from criminal prosecution. In my situation, everything was somewhat more complicated, because Yusufov at a certain stage probably started competing with VTB for the stake and that is why such circumstances came about. Maybe I am still unaware of certain things.
Replying to your question of why no charges have been brought against the former Moscow mayor, I believe that the answer could be found precisely in the sale of Inteko. And, probably, a second consideration is that the regime cannot allow itself that a man who during two decades has headed Moscow will suddenly become the subject of a criminal case, all the more so of a case that has no grounds under it.
Zhelnov: For how much were you selling your stake to Yusufov? At that time you did not comment that in any way in your interview with Vedomosti or the interview with Forbes. What was the price of the deal at that time in 2011 or in late 2010 when you sold, voluntarily by the way, your 20-per cent stake?
Borodin: I would not say that this happened voluntarily. Those structures in which my partners and I were beneficiaries sold their stake to Yusufov for a little less than $800 million.
Zhelnov: Are you intending, like the late Boris Berezovsky again or other businessmen, to go to court and call the transaction a non-market one, I mean sue Mr Yusufov, Vitaly Yusufov? Dou you think that you have been treated the way things are done in the market, at least in the acquisition of this stake?
Borodin: I think that it was a non-market treatment, no doubt, given the fact that I had no intention of selling the stake and abandoning the business at all. I think that talk about my free will in this matter is out of the question. But I would not like to spend the rest of my life in litigations in London, unless my opponents force me to do that.
Zhelnov: And why not? If justice must triumph and you consider the price of 800 to be a non-market one or believe other actions after the sale to be unlawful, why are you not trying to contest that?
Borodin: I say it again: such a trial will take no less than five years and maybe even 10. I do not want to waste those years of life in litigations for money. I have more pleasant and interesting thing to devote those years to.
Zhelnov: Do you interact with any representatives of the Russian leadership when they visit London or those of the Russian big business? Do you stay in touch or have severed all ties with Russia?
Borodin: It is understandable that no representatives of the ruling regime will meet with me now, because this is fraught with consequences for them, I believe. I am in touch with some of my friends with whom we were interacting in Moscow. Yet, no doubt, the circle has become narrower for understandable reasons; many people act like the scalded cat that fears cold water.
Zhelnov: Your other colleagues charged in this new case, about which we learned last week, concerning fraud, currency exchange rates, sale and re-sale, your deputy Dmitry Akulinin, former vice president of the bank Alexei Sytnikov, a trader and the chief of one of the bank’s basic offices. Do I understand correctly that all these people now, like the former top management of YUKOS, are also finding themselves in London and you are interacting with them?
Borodin: You know— I would not like to speak on behalf of these people about their whereabouts or about what they are doing now. I think that it would be the wrong thing for me to do. Therefore, I prefer to keep silent.
Zhelnov: But the Russian Interior Ministry cited the fact that Akulinin also obtained the status of political refugee one year ago, just like you. Can you confirm that?
Borodin: Again, I am prepared to talk only about myself.
Zhelnov: I want to ask again about the property arrest two years ago, rather the arrest of assets worth $400 million, on your bank accounts. What has happened with those assets? Was any of your immovable property arrested in Russia or abroad?
Borodin: Nothing has happened with those assets. The Swiss authorities are continuing their investigation. I hope that the lawyers that represent my interests in Switzerland will manage to convince them that the cases in Russia based on which Switzerland is conducting the investigation are fabricated and politically motivated. I am viewing the situation in Switzerland with much optimism.
As for property arrests, law-enforcement agencies have arrested my house near Moscow, but I do not regret that very much, because I would be unable to use it in the years to come.
Zhelnov: Now this money, the 400 million, as I understood, your lawyers are in touch with the Swiss representatives of the Ministry of Justice, the money is unfrozen, is it accessible to you?
Borodin: No, it is not unfrozen. It is working, but it is not unfrozen.
Zhelnov: If we refer to your current assets, a hundredth share of one per cent was remaining in the Bank of Moscow. Do you have anything else, a business in Britain or other countries? Are any assets left in Russia?
Borodin: I am not in business now. All that could be arrested in Russia has been arrested by our valiant organs. As for other countries, I would not like to touch that topic for clear reasons.
Zhelnov: Your house near Moscow has been arrested. Elsewhere in the world, in Europe, in London, has any of your property been arrested?
Borodin: I do not have any property in London; therefore, there is nothing to arrest.
Zhelnov: You do not? And that big house where you prefer to be interviewed when in Britain?
Borodin: I do not prefer to be interviewed where I live. On the other hand, I would not trust newspaper reports concerning title to the estate where I do live with my family.