MOSCOW, October 8 (RAPSI) - The Main Directorate for Investigation of Major Cases of the Investigative Committee of Russia has completed investigation into a criminal case against the former chairperson of the board of Togliattikhimbank Alexander Popov, the directorate has announced.

The banker is accused of attempted giving a $2 million bribe (Article 30.3, Article 291.5 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). The episode of bribing judges of Russia’s Supreme Court (SC) was revealed during the investigation of a case under the Article 210.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation; a separate proceeding for it was established. The Investigative Committee initiated the case under Article 210 on May 16, 2019. The documents of the investigation say that the criminals (the accused in the case Alexander Popov, Vladimir and Sergey Makhlai, Andreas Zivy and others – a total of more than 10 people) “acting in the form of a structured organized group, in the period from 2005 to 2013, committed several serious economic crimes against the state, against the property of Togliattiazot, and other persons."

Popov was arrested at Vnukovo airport on May 31, 2019 and detained on the same day. Investigators believe that Popov played a key role in illegal schemes to transfer ToAZ's profits to off shores, the damage from which amounted to 85 billion rubles ($1 billion rubles at the current exchange rate), as well as to sell the most liquid assets of the enterprise along with land plots, due to which the plant and its shareholders suffered damage of more than 2 billion rubles. In addition, the investigation noted that Popov used to involve many companies and individuals in the implementation of criminal schemes, and mainly his subordinates who were dependent on him due to official relations. Popov's guilt in the bribery case was fully confirmed; the Investigative Committee forwarded the case to the Russian Prosecutor General's Office to make a decision on transfer of the materials to court.

According to the investigation, the beneficial owner and head of Togliattiazot OJSC Sergey Makhlai, being a defendant in a criminal case on the theft of the company's products, was also brought to responsibility for a tax offense following the results of an on-site tax audit.

As stated in the announcement of the Investigative Committee of Russia, in order to avoid the obligation to pay taxes, as well as evade criminal liability, he decided to give (through an intermediary) a judge of the Supreme Court of Russia a bribe in the amount of at least $2 million for making a deliberately illegal judicial act in favor of Togliattiazot OJSC that would overturn the decision of the tax authority. According to the directorate, "he intended to use the issued judicial act in solving issues related to his criminal prosecution." To commit this crime, he involved the chairperson of the board of Togliattikhimbank Alexander Popov. “The latter, acting on Makhlai's instructions, developed a criminal plan in 2015. At the same time, using his official position, bypassing the official registration of documentation, he had no problems opening a cell in his bank, where he placed a part of the bribe given to the actual disposal of intermediaries. Popov could not complete his criminal intent due to circumstances beyond his control,” the Investigative Committee said.

As part of the investigation, in order to ensure execution of a possible verdict, Popov's property (namely, 293 land plots belonging to him) was seized by court. As noted in the announcement, the investigation has collected sufficient evidence, in connection with which the criminal case was sent to the Russian General Prosecutor's Office to resolve the issue of approving the indictment and then transferring it to the court for consideration on the merits.

Investigators recalled that Sergey Makhlai is on the federal and international wanted list. At the same time, he was previously sentenced in absentia for the theft of Togliattiazot products.