20 Nov 2019 18:39

Kremlin sees no need for prosecutors to get Putin's clearance for seeking Rolf founder Petrov's extradition - Peskov

MOSCOW. Nov 20 (Interfax) - The Russian Prosecutor General's Office is not obliged to seek the president's clearance for seeking the extradition of Sergei Petrov, the founder of the major Russian car dealer Rolf, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday.

Asked whether the Prosecutor General's Office had informed President Vladimir Putin of its plans to issue an extradition warrant for Petrov, taking into account that Putin had said earlier that he would take the investigation against Rolf under his personal control, Peskov said, "There is no position here. This is the job of law enforcement agencies, and it has no relation to the president."

The Moscow City Court ruled on September 30 to uphold a lower court ruling on issuing an arrest warrant for Petrov in a criminal case dealing with the illegally transfer of 4 billion rubles abroad.

The court also issued an arrest warrant for the ex-head of Rolf, Tatyana Lykovetskaya. Both suspects, as well as Georgia Kafkalia, the director of the Cyprus-based company Panabel Limited, for whom an arrest warrant has also been issued, are charged with the illegal transfer of a large sum of money abroad by an organized group. The suspects have been declared internationally wanted.

According to investigators, in 2014, Petrov, Lykovetskaya, Kafkalia, Rolf Business Department Development Director Anatoly Kairo, and other so far unidentified members of the group arranged the illegal transfer of Rolf funds to Panabel Limited's accounts using a fake purchase and sale agreement for shares in Rolf Estate at an inflated price of 4 billion rubles, which was transferred to an account in an Austrian bank.

Kairo is the only defendant detained in Russia. He has been under house arrest since June.

Petrov, who is abroad, had told Interfax earlier that he had not transferred any money from Rolf. His defense attorneys argue that the deal on which the case is based was a standard procedure for the restructuring and consolidation of an asset.

Rolf is Russia's biggest auto dealer, offering 22 brands at 62 showrooms. Founded in 1991 by Sergei Petrov, it now occupies 11% of the market in terms of revenue, which totaled 229.66 billion rubles in 2018. Net profit came to 6.25 billion. Rolf belongs to Calmco Trustees Limited (Cyprus), a trust acting on behalf of Petrov's family, through Cyprus-based Delance Limited.