Federal Prosecutor in Holiday Mood on Lake Baikal: Lauber Goes Down on His Knees Before Russians

Aargauer Zeitung

Switzerland’s Federal Prosecutor’s Office and Russian General Prosecutor’s Office maintain relations that go beyond formal cooperation. Now, this relationship is to be reviewed by the court.

Federal Prosecutor Michael Lauber perplexed by the group photo. It features a Russian-Swiss delegation aboard a yacht sailing along Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest freshwater lake. From that picture, one may conclude that the relations between Switzerland’s Federal Prosecutor’s Office and the Russian General Prosecutor’s Office are closer than with other law enforcement authorities. Dress code: casual. Level of discourse: friendly-like.

In this regard, on Friday, Lauber had one of the most unpleasant addresses in his career. He had to give testimony to the Swiss Federal Criminal Court in Bellinzona. Yet, not in his customary role of the Senior Prosecutor, but as a witness in a corruption case. The Court wanted to know Lauber’s opinion regarding trips of his personal adviser Viktor K.* who worked for the Federal Criminal Police for twenty years and assisted the Federal Prosecutor in all major cases involving Russia.

Viktor K. had a talent of building connections with the Russian judicial system in most desperate situations. In doing so, he might have gone beyond the law. The court heard a case of bear hunting in which Bern’s chief investigator took part to maintain relations. The defendant is to give evidence today, on Tuesday. The verdict is to be announced tonight. How should one treat this way of maintaining relationship? To find this out, the judge also asked questions as to the 2014 trip of the Federal Prosecutor to a conference held in the Siberian city of Irkutsk. Lauber acknowledged the fact of the trip and said that all of its aspects had been described in relevant documents.

Even without that, however, the unofficial atmosphere of that trip is probably documented better than Lauber would want. While there exist no documentary evidence as to his arrangements with the FIFA boss Gianni Infantino, as far as the trip to Russia is concerned, there even exist a number of photographs, and one of those photos is a group portrait.

According to the photograph, Saak Karapetyan, Deputy Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation, acts as a hospitable host. He puts his arms around his Swiss guests. Russian Expert of the Federal Criminal Police Viktor K. stands side by side with him. In front of them, Michael Lauber is smiling as one of his knees touches the ground. In such an environment, he is “Mike” as his colleagues call him. He wears jeans and a puffer jacket over his shirt. The group of visitors also includes Patrick Lamon, Federal Prosecutor for Economic Crimes. He had to provide testimony on Friday as well. To the annoyance of the judge, those testimonies turned out to be quite contradictory. He never managed to explain convincingly what he knew and what instructions he had given.

Too Close Relations Among Investigators
What looked like an entertainment trip of a group of elderly people is called “judicial diplomacy.” What it involves is information exchange in the course of the criminal proceedings. Obviously, the purpose of the trip, i.e. attending an anti-money laundering conference, served as a pretext for maintaining relationship. In Siberia, for example, they discussed the proceedings against Ms. Karimova, the daughter of Uzbekistan’s ex-President. The matter involved CHF 800 million frozen on a Swiss account. The Federal Prosecutor’s Office believes that in that sort of discussions, the only way to advance is to take account the customs of other countries. It also means that you cannot say “No” when you are invited on board the yacht.

In the Karimova case, however, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office omitted certain aspects of the Swiss law. Switzerland’s Federal Criminal Court disqualified Patrick Lamon because he had maintained too close relations with the Uzbekistani prosecutors. Moreover, Lamon intended to take charge of the case against his accused colleague, the expert for Russia, but was taken off that case as well.

Through his press office, Michael Lauber said he had nothing to add to what he had told about that trip to the court. He is probably hopeful that this wouldn’t go beyond the testimony in the court.

* Name changed

Don-Stroy To Develop One Million Square Metres On Baturina’s Land

Comment by Andrey Borodin: Here’s another proof of the fact that allegations and convictions against me and my colleagues are utter nonsense. A plot of land that was used as collateral against the loan granted by Bank of Moscow and according to Russian state prosecutors was worthless turns out to be an investor’s Klondike.

Vedomosti

As Vedomosti learnt, in December 2016, Moscow’s Urban Planning and Land Commission approved a development project of 160 hectares of the areas located within the territory between Lobachevsky Street, Moscow to Kiev Railway, Michurinsky Avenue and the Ramenka River. An official of the Moscow City Government said over 1.3 million sq. m. of real estate assets are planned to build here. The bulk of the development project will affect a 58-hectare plot that was previously owned by Elena Baturina and became the subject matter of a number criminal proceedings involving the Bank of Moscow, said an unnamed source close to the Bank. 1,15 million square metres are to be developed there. Konstantin Timofeyev, the chairman of Moskomstroyinvest, or Moscow’s Development and Investment Commission, said that CJSC Don-Stroy will be the investor of the project. Continue reading

“Premier” class Dachas

Comment by Andrey Borodin: Yet another testimony of that the most outspoken corruption fighters from among civil servants can often themselves stand at the top of corruptionist ratings.

Novaya Gazeta

Charitable funds connected with fellow students and relatives of Dmitry Medvedev are investing billions of roubles in development projects.

Many of us go in for collection – and the object of collection depends on the person’s resources. Even if one has no money at all, he can collect match boxes or beer lids. With greater resources, one can concentrate on antiques, works of art, or old automobiles. But only superstars may allow themselves to collect dachas. In the West, they are sports or show-biz stars, and in our country they are also politicians. Continue reading

Andrey Borodin: “There Are No Damages At All”

Forbes

The former head of the Bank of Moscow calls the charges of misappropriation of a billion roubles “a new fabrication of the investigators.”

The Russian Interior Ministry Investigation Department has brought new charges against the former top management of the Bank of Moscow. The former bank president Andrey Borodin, first vice president Dmitry Akulinin and vice president Alexei Sytnikov are charged with misappropriation and embezzlement of more than 1 billion roubles. In the theory of the investigators, from 2008 until 2010, a group of the bank’s top managers and employees organized by Borodin was practicing “misappropriation of entrusted funds through fictitious contracts for purchase and sale of foreign currency and illegally obtaining the difference between the rates in roubles”.

The first case against Borodin and Akulinin was opened in late 2010 – the bankers were accused of fraud with funds from the municipal budget in the amount of 12.76 billion roubles. Borodin and Akulinin were internationally wanted, but the United Kingdom gave Borodin political asylum (The Russian Interior Ministry claims that the same happened to Akulinin). In an interview with Forbes, Borodin spoke about why he considers the charge an invention of the investigators, what he did at the secret lunch of the Russian sponsors of the Conservative Party and what he thinks about possible extradition to Russia. Continue reading

General Prosecutor Talks About Unlawful Arrests

Commentary by Andrey Borodin: This is a curious confession by the general prosecutor of the Russian Federation. If he is citing such information, then the problem is too obvious and the real scale of the disaster may be greater by a factor of 10.

Lenta.ru

More than 4,600 persons have been unlawfully detained or arrested in Russia over the past three years. The RIA Novosti news agency reports on 12 February that the information has been provided by general prosecutor Yuri Chaika. “People have been in detention for years,” the head of the overseeing department said. Continue reading

VTB Capital To Introduce Austerity Measures

A comment by Andrei Borodin: That is how personal ambitions of a “banker of the decade” eat up shareholders’ funds. This is not the first case and obviously not the last.

Vedomosti

VTB Capital’s international business may be earning five times less than what the shareholder is expecting. This may lead to a reduction in force and abandonment of low-income operations.

The expenditures of VTB Capital International have grown to 95 per cent of proceeds, which requires a reduction of business areas and personnel, Atanas Bostanjiyev, a department head, informed Yuri Solovyov, VTB first deputy chairman and VTB Capital board chairman, in a memo of 15 November, Bloomberg reports citing the memo. Mr Bostanjiyev, general director of VTB Capital plc., manages international business, a VTB officer says. According to data found on the VTB Capital website, the company has offices in London, Singapore, Dubai, Hong Kong, Sofia, Kiev, New York, Paris and Vienna. Continue reading

Rogue states

The Economist

Cross-border policing can be political

Four years ago this week the whistle-blowing accountant Sergei Magnitsky died in jail from beatings and abuse, having uncovered a $230m fraud against the Russian state. His client Bill Browder, a London-based financier, has been campaigning to punish those responsible with visa bans and asset freezes. But the Russian authorities have retaliated and are trying to extradite him on fraud charges, using Interpol, the world police co-operation body. Continue reading

Andrei Borodin: It is a hostile takeover of the bank

Delovie Vedomosti

A.T.: Mr Borodin, why were Eesti Krediidipank (EKP) blocks of shares sold to Firmex and Genovia? Who made the decision and why?
A.B.: The Bank of Moscow sold EKP shares and got what was good money at that time for them. The price was 1.15 of the book value. In 2011 that was a very good coefficient for a bank. Most banks traded at a discount from their book value back then. Some banks, including major Russian banks, were in such a situation even later. And Kostin (BM board chairman – Editor) was aware of the transaction. In a conversation with me before that, he clearly said that they did not need that bank (EKP) and that it was to be sold. That was the commercial sense, a normal and healthy one. Continue reading