Good afternoon, dear hubraludes! By your request, we decided to publish an article about a case in which our lawyers were actively involved and were able to properly defend the rights of their client – an IT company from Moscow. The events took place between 2003 and 2007. Some of you will think that all this has become "overgrown with grass", but, as we know, history is cyclical…
Between 2000 and 2003, law enforcement agencies in Moscow and the Moscow region saw an increase in the number of special operations against commercial entities.
This happens in the following way. Under the pretext of carrying out investigative actions against one of the partner companies, the officers of the BEEP bodies (OBEP, UBEP, GUBEP of the RF Ministry of Internal Affairs) visit the offices and warehouses of the commercial structure and demand to present the documents of title to the legal entity itself, as well as the goods and material assets (statutory documents, accounting documents, all contracts, shipping and transportation bills, receipts and cash documents, certificates of compliance, etc.) under the pretext of investigative actions against one of the partner companies. All of these actions are usually accompanied by a review of offices and warehouses by masked and armed SWAT officers and by a forcible search of the employees of the commercial entity.
This is followed by an extensive seizure of documents, as well as the sealing of storage areas and the prohibition of free circulation of any material values. Often, the operating units of computers installed on employees’ workplaces are seized, and servers are blocked. Interrogations are initiated in order to obtain explanations from the employees of the "seized" commercial entity. Then a written prescription is given, signed by the head of the operational subdivision, to present, within ten days, the documents related to the activities of the company for further inspection of its financial and economic activities. The inspection is carried out for up to 10 days, but the head of operational subdivision may extend this period for up to 30 days and then for another 30 days. The goal is achieved! The commercial structure is paralyzed!
After one or two days, the management of the commercial structure begins to look for leads to the leadership of the operational unit that carried out the "seizure" of the firm, or there are independent consultants who at the suggestion of the police are ready to solve the problem "quietly". The cost of such a solution varies in the range of 10-50 % of the value of the sealed inventory in the warehouses, but not less than 150 000 dollars, as a rule. If the management of the commercial structure is uncooperative, then the second part of the "seizure" begins: the previously sealed goods are removed for storage to the warehouses of the RFFI, whose representatives go to the courts of general jurisdiction with petitions to recognize the goods as ownerless.
A "friendly" judge decides to declare the goods as ownerless and then sell them, with the obligatory condition that the money be transferred to the federal budget. The hour of realization comes. The sale of goods is carried out at prices 10-15 times lower than the actual market prices. The difference between the official sale price and the market price is paid "in black cash" to representatives of RFBR, which is subsequently divided, as a rule, as follows: 30% to the police officers, 30% to the RFBR officers, 30% to the judge, and 10% to the authorized RFBR structure that evaluated the goods.
Sometimes a prosecutor’s officer is also involved in the group. He is needed in case a merchant tries to appeal the actions of the police to the prosecutor’s office. Naturally, given the composition of the participants in the operation, this will not bring any results.
The author of these lines encountered this scheme when protecting the rights and legitimate interests of a commercial structure, which had a large stock of goods stolen from a warehouse in Moscow by members of the Shatura police department. Initiators of the operation: the chief of Shatura IAB Aksakov, deputy prosecutor of Shatura on supervision over law enforcement Dugin, deputy chief of Shatura IAB Makhovsky.
It went like this
In the early spring of 2003 the officers of the Department for Combating Economic Crimes of the Department of Internal Affairs of Shatura city, headed by Police Major Makhovsky, showed up at a commercial warehouse in Moscow at the end of the workday and said that he was an investigator in the criminal case against citizen X under Article 175 and Article 188 of the Criminal Code (purchase or sale of property that was deliberately obtained by criminal means and smuggling). As part of this criminal case, investigator Makhovsky broke down the doors of the warehouse, drove several pre-arranged trucks, loaded the goods, and then departed with the trucks in an unknown direction. As the goods were being loaded into the warehouse, attorneys for the commercial entity arrived and demanded an explanation of Mahovsky’s actions and asked for a copy of the resolution on the initiation of criminal proceedings, the resolution on the seizure of goods and their admission as evidence, and a separate order from the investigator to conduct a search and seizure.
Mahovsky did not have any procedural documents, except for the police officer’s certificate, and refused to show anything. The lawyers summoned the territorial police officers, explained the situation, and tried to involve the officers of the District Department of Internal Affairs in the defense. However, the police officers, who were trying to suppress Mahovsky’s illegal actions, suddenly received an order from the Moscow Department of Internal Affairs: to leave the warehouse and not to interfere with Mahovsky. Judging by how quickly the police officers left the warehouse, the order came from a high-ranking official. The goods were taken out without an inventory and Makhovsky did not draw up any documents. Representatives of the commercial structure were also not given any documents confirming the legality of Mahouski’s actions. The entire "operation" took only a few hours.
As it turned out later, shortly before the described events and the seizure of the merchants’ property, Mahovsky allegedly detained citizen N, who was selling goods of unidentified origin without any documents, at a market in the town of Shatura. During the detention N testified that he worked in a commercial structure in Moscow and was authorized by it to sell the goods in Shatura. According to N’s testimony, the goods in question are contraband and all the goods in the firm’s warehouse are also contraband.
The day after the removal of her property from the firm’s warehouses, Mahovsky signed a decree on the admission of the goods as physical evidence in the criminal case against citizen N.
After five days, Colonel Aksakov, head of the Shatura police department, concluded a contract with the RFFI for the storage and sale of items that are physical evidence. On the grounds that it is difficult to store these items before the end of the criminal case and during its conduct, Aksakov instructs RFFI to evaluate the removed goods. On the same day, Mahovsky issues an order to sell the goods at the assigned prices. RFFI sells the goods worth 20, 000, 000 rubles for 2, 100, 000 rubles within one day. A Moscow entrepreneur without a legal entity becomes a bona fide purchaser.
Lawyers of the injured firm appealed to the Main Investigation Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Prosecutor’s Office, and the Main Directorate of the Security Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation. Checks carried out by employees of the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs revealed the following: the criminal case was initiated by Mahovsky in relation to citizen N, who does not exist in nature, the passport of citizen N has never been issued by any body of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation. Citizen N was never found. The witnesses who were present during the seizure of the goods from citizen N also turned out to be dubious persons. One witness has been in custody since 2000 and the actual place of residence of the second is unknown. All of Mahovsky’s actions, as we later found out, were directed by the already mentioned Dugin (deputy prosecutor of Shatura for oversight of law enforcement agencies). Meanwhile, the Code of Criminal Procedure prohibits the person conducting the investigation from conducting operational and investigative activities. This was reflected in the materials of the inspection of the Moscow region prosecutor’s office.
A week and a half after Mahovsky removed the inventory from the warehouse of the commercial structure, the Moscow Region Prosecutor’s Office issued a decision to cancel the decision of Mahovsky’s investigator to open a criminal case, to cancel the decision to attach the property of the commercial structure as physical evidence, and to cancel the decision to sell the goods seized by Mahovsky.
The actual losses incurred by the commercial entity as a result of the operation described amounted to 20, 000, 000 roubles. The commercial entity sued the court for damages, which, in the case of a favorable court decision, would have to be compensated to the state, i.e., from the pockets of the taxpayers. Two questions remained :
- What decision will the court make?
- Who got the said 20 million rubles (minus 2.1 million rubles)?
This story happened in April 2003. As a result, we have :
- In October 2005 Major Makhovsky V.V. was sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment to be served in a penal colony of general regime and deprived of the right to occupy posts in the Interior Ministry for 3 years.
- His assistant lieutenant I.V. Simonov was sentenced to 3 years of imprisonment with serving his sentence in a minimum security penal colony and deprivation of the right to occupy positions in the Interior Ministry for 1 year.
- Dugin, deputy prosecutor of Shatura district of Moscow region, who "covered up" Mahovsky and actually organized the "raid" on the commercial structure, was dismissed from the prosecutor’s office.
- The fate of the head of Shatura police department is unknown to us.
- In May 2007, a commercial entity that suffered from the actions of V.V. Mahovsky received compensation from the state in the full amount of the material damage.
- The lawyers involved in this case continue their practice in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Thank you for your attention!