MOSCOW, September 17 (RIA Novosti) – Seven people suspected of stealing 500 million rubles ($15.5 million) in shares of Russian energy giant Gazprom have been detained, the Interior Ministry reported Tuesday.
The suspected ringleader and six others were detained in a joint operation by Russia’s Interior Ministry and Federal Security Service (FSB) during an attempt to “misappropriate 80 million rubles [$2.5 million] in shares of [Russia’s largest bank] Sberbank and to commit other crimes on financial markets,” the ministry said in a statement.
The suspects, who had previous economic crime convictions, specialized in stealing shares of large Russian companies by using shell companies and cash withdrawal schemes, the ministry said. The alleged Gazprom share theft reportedly occurred earlier this year.
With the help of accomplices from Baltic states, the suspects produced fake shareholder IDs and used them in the schemes, the ministry said, adding that lawyers and notaries were also involved in carrying out the fraud. An investigation is under way.