The trial of former head of inner control of Prombank Elena Chernykh in Moscow's Presnya District Court has come to a close. Chernykh is accused of illegal cash-out transactions. The criminal proceedings against the main suspect in this case - shadow banker Evgeny Dvoskin - have been dismissed.
Dvoskin has been under protection of the FSB of Russia for several years. He is unlikely to be brought to justice neither in Russia, nor in any other country (by the way, he has been on FBI wanted list for a decade). Dvoskin's insinkability is easily explainable if we take into consideration the fact that that he was a key banker in affairs of Russian mafia (asset-stripping, cash-out and money-laundering). He worked for the business, set up by criminal bosses, top brass, high-rank officials and large bankers.
The FBI double agent
Evgeny was born in Odessa in 1966. Mother gave a child her surname - Slusker. In the 70s Zhenya's mother moved to the USA on so-called «the third wave» of Russian emigration. She changed her son's name to Eugene. The family lived in Brighton Beach, New York City, where teenage Zhenya-Eugene met Russian-speaking mobsters. Most of them were hoodlums, but a few were affiliated with the groups of Marat Balagula (alias: Big Man) and Boris Nayfeld (alias: Biba).
Not once Slusker was detained by the NY police for minor offences, such as taxi drive-away. But he never faced real terms. A source in law-enforcement agencies told Russian Mafia portal (rumafia.com) that he managed to escape punishment, because he worked as an agent and provided the FBI with information about Russian mafia. Eugene changed his aliases as his criminal record became lengthier: young man was known as Altman, Kozin, Slushke. Finally he stopped at Shuster.
Eugene Shuster remained a Biba's foot soldier. Apart from racketeering, he specialised in gasoline bootlegging. The federal law of the USA stipulates lower tax for the gasoline if it is used for heating of the residential quarters. Russian mobsters set up shell companies which distributed the gasoline through the chain of dispensers at market prices while on paper the gasoline aimed for heating. The government lost fortunes.
Besides that the mobsters' companies understated the amount of sold gasoline. Shuster was involved in the bootlegging in 1980s. He did legwork for criminal bosses of different levels. In 1991 he was arrested for fraud. This time he was found guilty and convicted, though his term was not long and his fine was considerably small. It is likely he again decided to do the police a favour in exchange to leniency.
In 1992 he participated in an operation to arrest Monya Elson (alias: Monya from Kishinev), a boss of Russian mafia in the USA and main rival of Biba. Eugene picked on a Brighton Beach shop's owner. The shop was controlled by Monya. Elson himself came to sort things out. He dragged Eugene out and promised to cut off his head. They fixed the date for showdown. When Monya from Kishinev arrived he was captured by the federal agents. He was accused of kidnapping of Eugene Shuster and threatening him.
Cousin of Little Japanese
Adventurous young man continued his illegal affairs with gasoline and began to learn how to launder the returns. In 1994 he again found himself behind the bars - in Ohio. He was accused of gasoline returns tax-evasion and released on bail. The court was to declare its order in 1995, but Eugene simply did not come to the court rooms.
Eventually he was detained in New-York City and sentenced to 27 months in prison, where he met person which changed his whole life. His prison mate turned out to be thief-in-law Vyacheslav Ivankov, who had alias Yaponchik (Little Japanese).
Ivankov was convicted for extortion. He extorted businessmen from Chara bank. Russian-speaking mobsters found plenty to talk about. It emerged that Eugene's mother was a relative of Ivankov's wife. The kingpin liked a newly-found member of the family. Kiddingly he nicknamed Eugene his cousin. Yaponchik appreciated Eugene expertise in criminal finance and organised crime money laundering. Slusker-Shuster was released, having a reference letter from mighty Yaponchik in his pocket. The reference enabled him to join criminal brigade of Aleksandr Bor (alias: Timokha), thief-in-law in charge of Ivankov's business affairs in the USA for the period of Yaponchik's imprisonment.
In 1996-1997 Bor and members of the Gambino and Gravano families developed a large-scale stock manipulation scheme. They paid bribes to brokers who created artificial demand for the securities of the companies belonging to the mobsters. When the stock price skyrocketed, the mafia dumped the shares at a million dollars profit. The customers and investors landed on the scrapheap, because in fact companies cost nothing.
The USA was rocked by a series of «mobstock» scandals. Slusker-Shuster was involved in the scams. Very soon the FBI decided to investigate. In 1999 a number of people were arrested for fraud. Timokha Bor had to flee the USA. He located himself in Germany. But after a while he was arrested on suspicions of killing criminal boss Efim Laskin.
Another person came to the USA to change Slusker - Dzhumber Elbakidze, a shadow broker of thieves-in-law. In the USSR he represented interests of Georgian brigade commanders in Abkhazia and fought on Georgian side in Georgian-Abkhazian war. Eventually he continued his old business - financial services for thieves-in-law. His clients included most influential criminal bosses, such as Aslan Usoyan (alias: Ded Khasan) and Vyacheslav Ivankov.
Dzhuba-Eugene American partnership did not last for long. Probably, Slusker-Shuster went out of conrol of the federal agents. In 2000 Eugene was arrested in Brooklyn for identity document forgery. He was expelled, due to the violations of immigration laws. Slusker-Shuster did not manage to obtain the US citizenship. He returned to his mother-city Odessa. The unsuccessful American obtained Russian ID with his grandmother surname Dvoskin. Later the Federal Migration Service claimed the document invalid. In 2002 the FBI put Dvoskin on wanted list on charges of «money laundering conspiracy and fraud».
Russian financial policy was discussed at a kingpin's birthday
Having obtained Russian ID, Evgeny Dvoskin moved to Moscow at the end of 2002. By that time Elbakidze had also moved to Moscow, he eagerly accepted Dvoskin in his team. Moscow's thieves-in-law, including Ded Khasan, treated him with favour (he was a cousin of Yaponchick!). They gave Evgeny alias - Chegrash (in Russian a name for domestic pigeon).
Dvoskin's affairs in Russia included international money-laundering criminal scheme. The idea was to unite channels of asset-stripping and money-laundering. The plan was finally approved at a meeting of criminal bosses, which took place in Montiboli hotel in Spanish Alicante city om March 20-21, 2003. According to the «tradition», the meeting's pretext was celebration of kingpin Zakhariy Kalashov's birthday. Such criminal bosses as Aslan Usoyan, Vladimir Tyurin (alias: Tyurik), Vitaly Izgilov (alias: the Beast), Tariel Oniani (alias: Taro), Merab Gogia (alias: Merab), Dzhamal Khachidze (he represented Solntsevskaya mob and had alias Dzhamal), Vakhtang Kardava, Mamuka Mikeladze, Armen Aratyunov, businessmen Konstantin Manukyan and Leon Lann took part in the meeting. Two businessmen were invited to help successfully invest Russian mafia money. Russian part of the task was given to Elbakidze and his assistants - Dvoskin and Ivan Myazin.
Myazin was born in 1964 in Krasnoyarsk Region. He was convinced for robberies. Later he joined team of notorious member of the upper chamber of Russian Parliament Andrey Ishchuk which organised hostile takeovers. Myazin was suspected of killing a large shareholder of Samara tank (reservoir) metal structures plant (this asset was a subject of Ishchuk's activities). He joined Elbakidze's group as an expert in forceful takeovers. The mobsters looked for suitable financial institutions.
Very soon the mobsters' activities drew attention of the security agencies. But this looked more like a partership. The FSB of the Russian Federation which protected certain thieves-in-law, namely Yaponchik and Ded Khasan, began to «supervise» the channel and use it in its own commercial affairs. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, function to «curate» the scheme was given to Directorate «M» and its director Vladimir Kryuchkov.
There is another explanation of tender feelings the FSB has towards Evgeny Dvoskin, provided by an insider who told Russian Mafia portal (rumafia.com) the following. In the 1990s a number of agents, operation and the whole regimes were exposed by foreign security agencies due to banal inability to hide channels and sources of funds. The financing channel established by Elbakidze and Dvoskin was very reliable. «No one can foul the trail and conceal money in the West better than he does. He helps states security сonsiderably».- Our source said.
Apart from security services, the channel was used by oligarchs and officials. Dvoskin and Co provided quick cash-out services for ordinary businessman at 5-8% rate. A source in the Ministry of Internal Affairs said the scheme went up to the level of the Bank of Russia senior management. Deputy chairman of the Central Bank Gennady Melikyan, deputy head of the Central Bank directorate for Moscow Dmitry Yan and the head of 5th department of the Central Bank directorate for Moscow and active FSB agent Aleksandr Korneshov were involved in the scheme. Russian mafia portal (rumafia.com) has obtained a footage made by the police which shows Dvoskin with securities arriving at the Central Bank directorate for Moscow headquarters in Balchug Street to meet Yan.
Criminal financing channel was used by different Russian mafia organised groups: first of all, the groups based in St Petersburg - Malyshevskaya group, Tambovskaya group etc. Russian mafia money were being legalized in Spanish by the kingpins from St Petersburg who settled down in that country - Aleksandr Malyshev (alias: Gonsales) and Gennady Petrov.
The banking system under the control of Chegrash
Starting in 2003 more than 30 Russian banks were under the tacit control of Elbakidze and Dvoskin. Some of them were used for money laundering and taking out of Russia hundreds of billions of rubles and tens of billions of dollars. In 2003-2004 through fly-by-night firms Dzhuba and Chegrash bought up such banks as Rodnik, AKA-Bank, Centurion, Vertical, Vitas, NEP. Management of the banks they delegated to businessmen Boris Sokalsky and Sergey Turbin. As a result, according to the Ministry of the Interior, during several years 235 billion rubles, 391 million dollars, and 66 million euros were cashed and transferred abroad through these banks and fly-by-nights.
When law enforcement agencies began closely watching activities of these banks, Dvoskin and Elbakidze carried out a new project, taking control over bank Discount. From June 30 to August 29, 2006 two major companies transferred 41 billion rubles to the account of Discount. The money was then transferred to three offshore companies and could no longer be traced abroad. In the same 2006 Dzhuba and Chegrash cashed and transferred abroad 75 billion rubles through KomusInkass. At the same time the two criminals bought Alexey Frenkel’s Evroprominvest Bank, through which they also managed to launder tens of billions. Elbakidze also tried to use for his criminal business VIP Bank, another entity of Frenkel. But Andrey Kozlov, Central Bank Deputy Chairman, interfered with the situation. He launched a check in Discount and VIP Bank. In September 2006 Kozlov was shot in Moscow.
Frenkel was convicted for the murder of Kozlov. According to investigators, he hired a contract killer to eliminate Kozlov because he believed that the Central Bank Deputy Chairman was ruining his business by not authorizing VIP-bank to perform deposit insurance. At the same time, immediately after the murder of Kozlov, Dzhumber Elbakidze left Russia in a hurry.
Dzhuba was later declared wanted on charges of forgery. Evgeny Dvoskin became the sole king of cashing and money laundering. By this time Evgeny’s “uncle" Yaponchik and Alexander Bor already returned to Russia.
Banks came under the control of Dvoskin in different ways. At first there were attempts to bribe the top management. If that did not work, force was used. Thus, in 2007 the head of Intelfinans Mikhail Zavertyaev was beaten by Chegrash and his bodyguard right in Zavertyaev’s office, which resulted in three months in hospital. While the banker was in hospital, 11.7 billion rubles were cashed and laundered through Intelfinans. Elena Chernyh, who was then working in the Intelfinans, helped Dvoskin.
In the same 2007 Dvoskin and Myazin intimidated bank Falcon CEO so much that she agreed to convert her lending institution in the financial cesspool just for 30 thousand dollars. As a result, over a short period of time about 100 billion criminal rubles were transferred trough Falcon.
Laundering mechanism, created by Dvoskin, is perfectly clear on the example of a criminal case on the legalization of $ 5 billion, which was investigated by the Investigating Committee at the Ministry of Interior.
In 2007 the police began monitoring three Dagestani banks: Antares, Ruby, and Union Bank through which 80 billion rubles were laundered. Investigators found that the money in the Dagestani banks came from more than 250 fly-by-night companies whose accounts were opened in Moscow banks Eksportbank, Printbank, Kreditimpeks Bank, and Alfa-Bank. Materials related to Dagestani banks remained in the republic. All other documents were handed to the Investigating Committee under the Ministry of the Interior which instituted a separate criminal case. In autumn 2007 seizure of documents as part of this case was held at the head office of Alfa Bank, which had correspondent accounts and eliminations ledger in Ruby and Antares. As a result, the Investigating Committee under the Ministry of the Interior spotted the largest scheme of legalization and cashing funds, which was used to transfer several billion dollars abroad.
According to the collected evidence, the scheme operated as follows. Billions of dollars from the accounts of hundreds of dump firms flowed into funds accumulating fly-by-nights with accounts at Alfa-Bank, Uralsib, and Smolensky. Then the money was transferred to the accounts of other dump firms in Kreditimpeks in 2006, Intelfinans in 2007, and Eksportbank and Printbank. Part of the funds was cashed out there and part went for cashing to regional banks, including Dagestani ones. By the way, this is how police found an explanation as to why every day couriers took tens of millions of rubles (often falling victims of robbers, or even police officers) from Dagestan to Moscow. This money was cashed in Dagestan and sent back to customers in the capital.
Another part of the money (mainly through Kreditimpeks) went abroad on fictitious contracts. Alexander Malyshev, who once was an uncrowned king of Gangster Petersburg, was in charge of this section of the business.
According to police investigators, Evgeny Dvoskin and Ivan Myazin took control of average size banks which then were integrated into the scheme. It was they who were in charge of the activities of Dagestani banks, Kreditimpeks, Intelfinans, Eksportbank, and Printbank. Major financial institutions involved in the same scheme, namely Alfa-Bank, Uralsib and Smolensk were supervised directly by the Head of the Counter-Espionage division of the Federal Security Service (FSB). In particular, the father of Nikolaev, supervisor of one of the divisions, headed the security service in Uralsib.
Dvoskin triggered the war of agencies
Investigating Committee under the Ministry of the Interior zealously took up the investigation of the case. Seizures of documents were again conducted in Alfa Bank and other lending institutions. On September 13, 2007, investigators searched Dvoskin’s cottage in the village of Trusovo, where they found a gun. According to the police, FSB immediately made it clear to them that "they should mind their own business" and "they were interfering with the security system of Russia without possessing the necessary information."
However, this did not stop investigators. And then measures were taken in response. In October 2007 Evgeny Dvoskin submitted a statement to Nicholay Aulov, chief of the State Department of the Ministry of the Interior in Central federal district. In the statement, Alexander Soloviev, officer of the Department for Organized Crime and Terrorism Control, was accused of extorting a million dollars for stopping Dvoskin’s prosecution and for illegal possession of weapons. The FSB Counter-Espionage division was the one charged with the investigation.
It turned out that this was a nicknamed of the officer of the Department for Organised Crime and Terrorism Control of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Aleksandr Sharkevich, whose task was to penetrate into the criminal groups in order to expose its leaders. Once he was infiltrated into the group of Chechen terrorists, which enabled to arrest suicide bombers. The Minister of Interior Affairs awarded Sharkevich with award weapon. Another officer of the Department Dmitry Tselyakov was Sharkevich's friend. Tselyakov was in charge of operational escorting in the laundering case.
On October 23 counter-espionage officers arrested Sharkevich. He refused to cooperate and did not testified agains Tselyakov (later the jury cleared Sharkevich of charges of bribery - he got a short term for illegal keeping of bullets of award gun). However, the situation let the FSB loose.
Criminal investigation into Sharkevich’s case was carried out by the Investigative Committee of the Prosecutor’s office (SKP). The Prosecutor’s office had its own inner control devision - headed by Vladimir Maksimenko, an officer of the Directorate M, sent to the Prosecutor's office.
At the beginning of 2008, as part of the investigation in Sharkevich's case, SKP takes the investigation into laundering case from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and begins its own investigation under the pretext of checking the information that the investigators from the ministry planted weapon in Dvoskin's country house. SKP began to question members of investigation group of the Ministry of Internal affairs: Aleksandr Nosenko, Dmitry Tselyakov and the head of the group Gannady Shantin. The situation was reversed by Aleksey Anichin, chairman of the Investigative Committee of the Ministry of Internal affairs, and the Prosecutor General Office. Deputy prosecutor general Grin ordered the investigation to be given back to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. SKP first ignored the order, than returned the files to the Ministry, but without an important piece of evidence - the gun which the investigators had found on Dvoskin. Dvoskin himself (as a «victim» in Sharkevich's case) was put under protection of the Directorate «M».
When the files were returned, the Ministry of Internal Affairs went on with investigation. Having studied the evidence gathered in Alfa-bank offices and in other financial institutions, they got on the track of Aleksandr Malyshev, a mobster in charge of Spanish part of the money laundering scheme. Russia's National Bureau of Interpol sent information to Spanish authorities who got intrested in Malyshev. In June 2008 Spanish police carried out large-scale operation to arrest Malyshev, Gennady Petrov and a number of other mobsters from St Petersburg and Moscow. Soon after that the investigation group of the Ministry of Internal Affairs was smashed up.
Dvoskin's criminal associates - bankers German Gorbuntsov and Petr Chuvilin appealed to the FSB claiming Nosenko and Tselyakov extorted a million euros from them. This was money, Gorbunov and Chuvilin claimed, the investigators asked to stop «squeezing» their banks. The SKP initiated criminal investigation. The FSB arrested intractable investigators. The FSB did not catch them red-handed, but at the same time the agents arrested Kastuevas and Baydenko, Latvian business partners of Chuvilin and Gorbuntsov. Kastuevas and Baydenko testified that the money aimed for the investigators of the Ministry of the Internal Affairs.
Let us notice that Tselyakov and Nosenko are not ordinary people. Before joining the Ministry of Internal Affairs Dmitry Tselyakov worked for the Ninth Directorate of the KGB of the USSR and was Michail Gorbachov's bodyguard. Aleksandr Nosenko's aunt - retired general of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the State Duma deputy Tatyana Moskalnikova. Soon after Tselyakov and Nosenko's arrest Gorbuntsov and Chuvilin again appealed to the FSB, claiming Moskalnikova having threteaned them.
As part of Tselyakov-Nosenko case, the SKP again took the investigation of money-laundering case from the Ministy of Internal Affairs. The SKP also tried to open criminal proceedings against Shantin. The Ministry of Internal Affairs did its best to protect him. The FSB made it a condition that Shantin was no longer to take part in investigations connected with banks. As a result he was transferred to the control and methodics department of the Investigation Committee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In 2010 he retired.
The investigation into money laundering and illegal out-cashing (of billions dollars) was split into a number of separate cases - and each case went to different division of the Ministry of the Internal Affairs and the SKP. As a result, the investigation was shelved. Criminal proceedings against Evgeny Dvoskin, on suspicions of beatings of Intelfinans chairman and laundering money through the bank, were terminated in December 2010. The only person brought to justice was former Intelfinans employee Elena Chernykh.
Despite his insinkability, in August 2008 Evgeny Dvoskin was on the edge of catastrophy. When he was on business in Monaco, the American FBI asked local government to arrest Chegrash. The FBI interest was to get first-hand information about financing channels from Russia. Him being a wanted mobster was just a pretext.
Evgeny faced a dilemma: whether to resume cooperation with the FBI or to remain loyal to current patrons. Help came from the government of Monaco. It did not want to conflict neither with the USA (demanding the extradition), nor with Russia (protesting against the extradition). The authorities decided to sort the issue out in pure legal term. There is no such thing as «fraud conspiracy» in the law of the principlity. Monaco refused to extradite Dvoskin. But before he went back to Moscow, they allowed an American agent to question him.
At present Dvoskin withdrew from business, because his patrons lost their power. SKP dismissed inner control department and Maksimenkov left his office. Krychkov retired from the post of chairman of Directorate M of the FSB. Yaponchik was killed by the contract killer (there was a wreath signed «For dear uncle» Dvoskin sent for the funeral). Ded Khasan was short by a contract killer, he can not recover from the wound in stomach. According to the agents, Dvoskin is a usual guest in the Bank of Russia. He has coonections among bankers, but large-scale schemes are in the past.
Not long ago Dvoskin and Myazin bought two islands in the Dominican Republic - one for each. Myazin spends most of his time there. Evgeny is still afraid of flying to Dominikana - the FBI arrest warrant is still in force. He prefers to live a life of glamour in a luxurious penthouse in the center of Moscow city.
Thomas Petrov, Alexey Gordon, Rumafia.com