Explosive Video Documents Depth of Putin’s Mafia State
It is no longer possible to distinguish where organized crime ends and the state begins in Vladimir Putin’s Russia. An extraordinary 17-minute video just exhibited by the anti-corruption website Russian Untouchables shows how an elite crime syndicate headed by a longtime gangster, Dmitry Klyuev, and including active agents of the Russian Interior Ministry and Moscow tax offices, managed to steal close to $1 billion from state coffers in fraudulent tax claims. It was the Klyuev Group that attorney Sergei Magnitsky exposed after one of his clients, Hermitage Capital, was raided and its corporate documents pilfered in order to defraud the Russian state of $230 million in a sham corporate tax refund—a refund which was processed in a single day by the co-conspirators themselves. After Magnitsky exposed it, the Klyuev Group had him framed, tortured, and murdered, then blamed for the crime. The substance of this new video, all obtained through Magnitsky’s relentless legal work and backed by bank, state, and airline records, is both the reason for his death as well as his testament. All the evidence corroborating what Magnitsky uncovered can be accessed at the Russian Untouchables website. What follows is a precis of the film.
Dmitry Klyuev was a petty crook who was hired in 2002 by Igor Sagiryan, the president of Renaissance Capital, one of Moscow’s most prominent investment firms, to act as a “tax advisor who had skills in arranging tax refunds through the Russian court system,” according to another Renaissance executive who testified in court. The scheme involved arranging a refund for a company Renaissance had only recently purchased; it was completed within 6 to 8 months.
Two years later, Klyuev and his lawyer, Andrey Pavlov, tried to steal $1.6 billion in shares from the iron ore company Mikhailovsky GOK. An investigation was launched by the Interior Ministry headed by Major Pavel Karpov, who instead of doing his duty, became an accomplice of his suspect. He and Klyuev went on holiday together to Larnaca, Cyprus four months before the verdict against the latter was announced. Karpov helpfully identified Klyuev’s 41 year-old driver, soon found dead of “heart failure,” as the true mastermind of the Mikhailovsky GOK fraud. Klyuev received a suspended sentence and light fine while his attorney Pavlov was never even indicted.