Russian businessman held over $46bn money laundering scheme

Russian businessman held over $46bn money laundering scheme
By bne IntelliNews November 3, 2015

Russian law enforcement agencies have detained the alleged mastermind of a money laundering syndicate of 60 banks and 500 people said to be responsible for channelling some $46bn out of the country, Kommersant daily reported on November 3, citing unnamed sources.

Businessman Alexander Grigoryev, the former vice president of the Moscow Boxing Federation, is a co-owner of several bankrupt banks, including Zapadny, Transportny Doinvest, and Russian Land Bank, which together allegedly owe clients a total of more than RUB75bn ($1.19bn).

Currently Grigoryev is accused of two counts of large scale fraud amounting to RUB105bn ($1.67bn) and has demanded to be released on bail.

The newspaper claims that Grigoryev is accused of channelling prime assets out of banks about to be declared insolvent, as well as closing real estate deals on behalf of bankrupt credit institutions.

However, the biggest scam he is accused of running affected over 60 small banks and about 500 individuals, constituting a money laundering and outflow operation with a record turnover of over RUB1 trillion a year.

For comparison, Kommersant notes that to date, the largest busted laundering scheme in Russia, run by Sergey Magin, had a turnover of RUB169bn.

The scheme could involve Moldovan, Lithuanian, and Estonian banks servicing Russian and offshore shell firms that channelled money out of Russia under the pretence of issuing compensation for fake trade deals with local nationals.

According to the anti-money-laundering services of Moldova, in 2010-2013 alone Moldovan courts withdrew $18.5bn worth of compensation from Russian resident firms, which in reality was a cover-up for illegal capital flight.

The businessman allegedly paid a RUB300mn bribe to an unnamed high-level official to avoid detention but to no avail.