MOSCOW, February 15 (RIA Novosti) – Russian investigators have busted a group suspected of stealing more than $100 million in tax returns in St. Petersburg and the surrounding region, the Investigative Committee said Saturday.
“From 2008, members of the criminal group embezzled about 4 billion rubles ($114 million) from the federal budget by using 39 legal entities to illegally obtain VAT returns,” the committee said in a statement.
Six people have been detained, including 34-year-old dual US-Russian citizen Mark Bronovsky, the statement said. Bronovsky is one of the directors of the Sotrans group of companies that organized the criminal scheme, investigators said.
The statement described the group of more than 15 people as well organized and equipped, with a clear hierarchy and “corrupt connections in state authorities, law enforcement agencies and the legal system in St. Petersburg,” as well as a team of specialist tax lawyers.
Investigators have opened cases into large-scale organized fraud and into creating and participating in a criminal organization, crimes punishable by prison sentences of up to 10 and 20 years, respectively.
The suspects were detained following a series of raids during the last few days at the homes of the suspects and other locations, the statement said.
A large volume of documents and jewelry were seized as evidence, as well as more than 30 million rubles’ worth ($850,000) of securities, investigators said.
The probe and raids are continuing while the search continues for the other suspects in the case, the statement said.