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#OperationSECTIO – international hit against Belarusian organised crime group involved in international cargo thefts

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The German Police Department Heidekreis, in co-operation with the French Gendarmerie and Czech authorities, the German State Criminal Police Office of Saxony-Anhalt, EMPACT OPC, and Europol dismantled a Belarusian organized crime group involved in international cargo thefts. 

The group was targeting trucks on motorway rest areas and parking lots to steal the cargo. The group is suspected of having been involved in almost 60 offenses in the German state of Lower Saxony alone. The total damage committed sums-up to over €500 000. The main geographical focus of the group was along the German motorway number 7, near the capital city of the Federal State of Lower Saxony, Hannover. Since December 2018, the Police Department Heidekreis (Federal State of Lower Saxony) had been investigating the organised crime group of at least six Belarusian offenders.

During the investigation, the information exchange via Europol showed that the group had been responsible for previously committed cases in France. It also became clear that the organised crime gang purposefully entered the European Union for the reason of committing crimes. In addition to several cars, the perpetrators had various lorries to load the cargo directly at the crime scene and to transport them abroad. As part of a coordination meeting, initiated and financed by the EU funded project Cargo and organised by Europol, information was exchanged between the Police Department Heidekreis and the French Gendarmerie. This cooperation enabled the intensification of further covert measures. Another operational meeting followed in the summer of 2019.

On 10 October 2019, four members of the organised crime group, including its ringleader, were caught red-handed in Germany. In the course of this arrest, a truck with stolen TVs was seized. Further investigations are ongoing.

The objectives of the ISF Project Group Cargo of the German State Criminal Police Office of Saxony-Anhalt is to promote national and international cooperation to combat cargo theft and to encourage the dismantlement of organised crime groups involved in such cases.

 

EMPACT

In 2010 the European Union set up a four-year Policy Cycle to ensure greater continuity in the fight against serious international and organised crime. In 2017 the Council of the EU decided to continue the EU Policy Cycle for the 2018 - 2021 period. It aims to tackle the most significant threats posed by organised and serious international crime to the EU. This is achieved by improving and strengthening co-operation between the relevant services of EU member states, institutions and agencies, as well as non-EU countries and organizations, including the private sector where relevant. Organised property crime is one of the priorities for the Policy Cycle.

Crime

High-level conference on anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing - closing the door on dirty money

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On 30 September, the European Commission hosted a high-level conference on the EU's fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. This conference marked the conclusion of the public consultation that was launched in parallel with the adoption of the Anti-Money Laundering Action Plan on 7 May 2020.

There was a series of dedicated panel debates and keynote speeches by high-profile speakers who are on the front line of the fight against dirty money, including Catanzaro Chief Prosecutor Nicola Gratteri and French Court of Cassation General Prosecutor Francois Molins.

An Economy that Works for the People Valdis Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis said: “Dirty money should have nowhere to hide. The EU has been ramping up its anti-money laundering rules. They are now among the toughest in the world - but still not enforced equally across the board. It is clear that we must do a lot more to shut off remaining loopholes, remove weak links, and co-ordinate better between EU countries. Effectiveness, efficiency, enforcement: these are the governing principles of our strategy in tackling money-laundering. They should apply across the EU and across the world. That is how we can beat it.”

Three thematic panels will cover the areas for future reform of EU rules, while a closing roundtable will bring together representatives from the European Commission, the German Presidency and the European Parliament to highlight the EU's united position and commitment to fighting money laundering and terrorist financing. Each panel will include an opportunity for questions via Twitter with the hashtag #StopDirtyMoneyEU. For more information, details on the programme and a link to the live feed, please see here.

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Ireland

Russian - Irish Business Council launches an inquiry into Russian businessman

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The Russian Irish Business Council has launched a broad inquiry into alleged illegal activities of Russian businessman Mr. Sergey Govyadin and his close associate Mr. Ildar Samiyev.

The Council, unifying companies working in the UK, EU and Russia, have sent a letter to HSBC and a number of other financial institutions in the UK requesting information the banks might have about Mr. Sergey Govyadin. It alleges that both he and Mr. Samiyev were obviously involved in money laundering and other illegal purposes via the UK legal system and the UK offices of HSBC. The Council asks to investigate possible acts of fraud by Mr. Govyadin and Mr. Samiyev.  This information was also sent to the US Internal Revenue Service for consideration and possible feedback due to its criminal background. There are indications that both are using the US monetary mechanisms for their illegal activities. Full copies of these letters can be read at the foot of this article, whilst numerous legal papers are in EU Reporter's possession.

The story of Sergey Govyadin has much in common with other infamous "new riches" from Eastern Europe who have a profound criminal portfolio.

Sergey Govyadin

Sergey Govyadin

Visibly a prosperous real estate businessman and developer, Sergey Govyadin is alleged in Russian media as being involved in many criminal cases related to fraud and other criminal incidents on selling elite property and apartments in luxurious districts in Moscow. Newspapers in Russia call Mr. Govyadin a "shadow influencer" alleging corrupt connections with a number of police authorities.

Togather with Ildar Samiyev, Mr. Govyadin has long been featured in the Russian criminal chronicle as a scandalous person, primarily found in fraudulent deals with private property and luxe apartments in fabulous districts in Moscow and in its suburbs. Back in 2015, Govyadin was “crowned” as a “successful millionaire” by tabloid press. By that time he was married to the beauty pageant - Miss Russia.  However, his name remains on the lists of fraudsters and corrupt officials published from time to time by the media.

According to them, Govyadin and Samiev denigrate other people who are their partners, in order to justify their allegedly illegal transactions. In Moscow, a high-profile trial has long been underway in the case of developer Albert Khudoyan, whom Govyadin and Samiev accused of fraud and deception. As a result, the businessman was arrested. His case became additionally known due to violations on the part of the investigation. Some corrupt law enforcement officials tried to profit from his arrest according to the media.

Russian business ombudsman Boris Titov has already defended Khudoyan. However, the process against him continues. Khudoyan suffers from heart disease.

The alleged illegal activities of Govyadin and Samiyev have a long history.

Ildar Samiyev

Ildar Samiyev

For example, together with Ildar Samiev, Govyadin is alleged to have taken part in the withdrawal of funds from Russian Svyaz Bank. He is alleged to have been involved in fraud with apartments in the elite Knightsbridge residential complex in Khamovniki district of Moscow, as well as a number of other stories.

For example, back in 2014, Optima property management LLC, owned by Govyadin, took $ 95 million loan from the state-owned Svyaz Bank and used the funds to purchase 22 apartments in the elite Knightsbridge residential complex under construction in Khamovniki. This company was controlled by Sergey Govyadin and Ildar Samiev through a chain of companies, namely the Russian LLC "Eurofinance" and the English company Mansfiled Executive Limited (from 25 to 50 percent of Mansfiled Executive Limited belongs to Govyadin, according to the Endole database). At the same time, the price of apartments under the deal was inflated, which allowed to actually withdraw more than a billion rubles from the state Bank.

The residential complex was constructed in 2016. Probably, because of the extremely high price, the purchased apartments remain on the balance sheet of Optima property management, since it is impossible to sell them at such a high price. Optima properties has not yet returned the debt to the Bank, and in 2018 Svyaz Bank filed a lawsuit to recover $ 95 million from Optima property management, but failed. As a result, the state, which is the owner of Svyaz Bank, suffered, having completed its rehabilitation in 2011. The debtor has apartments on the balance sheet that are unlikely to cost more than 50 percent of the debt amount, and more than 1 billion rubles settled on the accounts of the developer Knightsbridge, controlled by Govyadin.

It is obvious that the request of the Russian Irish Business Clouncilwill be an occasion for more close and detailed attention to the illegal activities of Govyadin & Co. British and American financial institutions will hopefully be held accountable of those international speculators.

Source information

HSBC letter

 

 

USA tax letter

 

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Crime

Victims' Rights: Commissioner Reynders launches new platform and presents first European Commission's Co-ordinator for victims' rights

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At a high-level videoconference on 22 September, co-hosted with the German Presidency, Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders inaugurated the new Victims' Rights Platform – an important deliverable following the adoption of the first EU Strategy on Victims' Rights earlier this year.

The new platform, which will meet annually and on an ad-hoc basis when necessary, will serve as an important forum for discussions on victims' rights with all relevant actors. These include the European Network on Victims' Rights, the EU Network of national contact points for compensation, the EU Counter–Terrorism Coordinator, Eurojust, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights and civil society.

In addition to these organizations, who will also participate this afternoon, the event will gather EU ministers of justice and members of the European Parliament. At the conference, Commissioner Reynders will also introduce the Commission's newly appointed Coordinator for Victims' Rights Katarzyna Janicka-Pawlowska.

Ahead of the event, Commissioner Reynders said: “Today is an important moment in our work to protect victims' rights in the European Union. With a new EU-wide Victims' Rights Platform and a new Coordinator for Victims' Rights, we are showing clear commitment to carry this work on, and only a few months after the Commission presented the first EU strategy in this area. I welcome the support of the German Presidency as well as our stakeholders, and I look forward to our cooperation going forward. On 24 June 2020, the Commission adopted the first ever EU Strategy on Victims' Rights. The primary goal is to ensure that all victims of crime can rely on their rights no matter where in the European Union and no matter in what circumstances the crime happened."

More information on the strategy is available here.

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