MOSCOW, June 10 (RAPSI) – Moscow’s Meshchansky District Court on Thursday ordered release of ex-CEO of VIM Airlines Alexander Kochnev and ex-chief accountant of the air carrier Yekaterina Panteleyeva due to the actual sentence completion in a fraud case, the court’s pres service told RAPSI.

Kochnev was sentenced to 44 months in penal colony with a fine amounting to 600,000 rubles ($8,300) while Panteleyeva received 42 months in jail. According to the Criminal Code, the time they spent in detention and under house arrest were counted towards the completion of their term of imprisonment.

The defendants’ house arrest was overturned. They were ordered to be released in the courtroom.

Owners of the company, Rashid Mursekayev and his spouse Svetlana, and former vice-CEO and financial director Alevtina Kalashnokova are put on the international wanted list and arrested in absentia as part of the case.

According to investigators, between 2015 and 2017, the defendants abusing their power purchased aviation fuel from Mursekayev’s companies at an inflated price. 

Investigators believe that VIM Airlines headed by Rashid Mursekayev was made as a fraudulent pyramid scheme. The air carrier’s management covered up material losses adding false earnings information in financial statements. These steps gave them a chance to obtain loans in banks and avoid activity barriers from the Federal Air Transport Agency.

Being aware of the air carrier’s distress, its owner along with his wife received over 162 million rubles ($2.2 million at the current exchange rate) in salary and dividends. However, damages in the company were estimated at 2.5 billion rubles (over $34 million) by September 2017, investigators claim.

According to the Investigative Committee, the defendants’ illegal actions caused damage wort over 782 million rubles (about $11 million) to VIM Airlines’ corporate counterparties. Four companies are recognized as victims in the case.