This Thursday Fedeal Security Buro of St. Petersburg raided several adresses connected to a construction company “Petroinvest”, including its chief Ruslan Hamhokov’s apartment. “Petroinvest” is the key subcontractor in a major construction project: for the last 10 years Russian government had been building a new prison called Kresty-2 in St. Petersburg.
According to the media “Fontanka”, the day before law enforcement officers came to Hamhokov they opened a criminal case on serious bribery charges as part of an organised criminal group. The Russian Unvestigative Committee estimated the total amount of bribes to be a record 350 mln rubles (around $6 mln).
At 7 am on Thursday officers of several law enforcement agencies, including an FSB SWAT team, and several penitentiary offices came to Hamhokov’s flat located at Konnaya street 13 in St. Petersburg. Now president of “Petroinvest”, he previously worked as head of North-Western Department of “Spetsstroy Russia” and served as Lieutenant-General.
Other raids took place in several places connected to “Petroinvest”, including the company’s head quarters that is almost across the street from Hamhokov’s apartment.
“Fontanka” reports that these raids are performed in accordance with one criminal case, that was just opened: Hamhokov is charged with serious bribery as part of an organised criminal group. Media suspects that this investigation has a lot to do with the murder of Lieutenant colonel of the regional penitentiary department Chernov and the fraud case against the owner of general contractor in Kresty-2 construction project “GSK”, Victor Kudrin.
Kresty-2 is a detention unit that Russian government had been building over the last decade. In 2007 “General Construction Company” or “GSK” in russian became the general contractor, while “Petroinvest” was recruited as a subcontractor. The resulting complex comprised of several builings will occupy 163.9 thousand of square meters. The detention unit’s territory is 30 thousand square meters. There should be two buildings for convicts, a dormitory for 280 servicemen, also inmates, and solitaty cells and black holes for another 136 men.
Victor Kudrin was accused of embezzlement of 100 mln rubles ($1.7 mln) and fraud and is now under house arrest. District Attorney’s office and Russian Investigative Committee made a pre-trial agreement with him, according to which he must spill the beans on others, who also participated in those criminal acts.
Since 2013 the delivery date for new prison had been constantly postponed, last time it was announced that Kresty-2 would be up and running by the end of this year.
On the 2nd of March 2017 Head of the Department for Technical Supervision and Operation of Construction Facilities for Kresty-2 Nikolai Chernov was found wounded in a car in one of St. Petersburg districts. He was shot with a Makarov gun as many times as the clip holds. On the 5th of March two men were arrested in connection to this shooting: Sadykov, 63, who lives in St. Petersburg and engaged quite actively, though informally, in construction and colonel Moiseenko Deputy Chief of the Regional Fund for Capital Construction for the Russian penitentiary system. On the 7th of March Chernov died without regaining consciousness.
“Fontanka” wrote that this new criminal case against the president of “Petroinvest” is related to a kickback scheme that was operational ever since the construction of Kresty-2 began. Investigators think that Hamhokov and Moiseenko initially decided that the latter will receive 10% from every financial transaction that takes place during the construction cycle. To corroborate their theory officers obtained documents detailing financial transactions from 2010 to 2015 and called many witnesses, who were the middlemen and already testified to transferring the money from subcontractors to now arrested for murder colonel. Over the course of 10 years the total sum came to a staggering 350 mln rubles.
On Wednesday Hamhokov was in Caucasus on vacation, but got a call from the authorities and came back to St. Petersburg. He was not informed about any details, possibly, to avoid him fleeing the country. After today’s raid is finished the businessman will be transported to Investigative Committee subsidiary, where he will be detained for the next two days.
“Fontanka” speculated that Hamhokov is probably expected to explain to the law enforcement officers the details of this kickback scheme and implicate others. It is highly unlikely that he was the only one who gave money to Moiseenko, just as it is barely believable that Moiseenko was the only one to keep the cash.
This investigation sheds a new light on the dismissal of deputy chief of Russian penitentiary system Korshunov. Also, law enforcement agencies reported finding the person who gave Makarov with the silencer to Chernov’s murderers.