27 Mar 2019 10:17

Abyzov might be indirectly involved in other crimes - newspaper

MOSCOW. March 27 (Interfax) - Former Open Government Minister Mikhail Abyzov, who is implicated in establishing an organized criminal group and committing a fraud, might also be involved in other crimes, which are being investigated by Russian law enforcement agencies, the newspaper Izvestia said on Wednesday with reference to its sources.

"The case of former Open Government Minister Mikhail Abyzov might go beyond the accusations brought against him in the evening of March 26. To Izvestia's knowledge, the detained former official might be involved in some other crimes, which are being investigated by law enforcement agencies," the newspaper said.

It noted that Abyzov, who reportedly was a close associate of Anatoly Chubais when the latter was serving as the RAO UES head, not just headed the Ministry of the Open Government in 2012-2018 but also was the richest government member. Forbes estimated his fortune at $600 million and named RU-COM Group comprising electric power companies (SIBECO and ELSIB) and agricultural companies (KoPITANIYA) as his primary assets. After the Open Government was disbanded in May 2018, Abyzov spent a lot of time abroad.

"He did not dare to return to Russia because a case indirectly related to him already came to attention of investigative agencies," a source close to the law enforcement authorities told Izvestia.

A source close to the government confirmed to Izvestia that law enforcement agencies had shown interest in Abyzov and affiliated entities on suspicion of loan fraud.

"It is true that a loan fraud case was opened in March 2016 against heads of 4E Group affiliated with Mikhail Abyzov's RU-COM. He sold the group a year before it was declared bankrupt in 2016. The creditors were Alfa-Bank and the Cyprus-registered Redeliaco Holdings Ltd, to which the entities owed more than 33 billion rubles," Izvestia said.

A source close to law enforcement agencies told the newspaper that Abyzov also stayed away from Russia because of the inquiry into siphoning off 1.3 billion rubles from Russian Venture Company under the disguise of investments in building solar batteries in the United States. Mikhail Chuchkevich, a former senior advisor of Chubais in Rusnano and a close friend of Abyzov, and former director of Russian Venture Company's investment department and board member Yan Ryazantsev, were detained in that case in summer 2018. Chuchkevich was released from the detention center with travel restrictions on March 15, yet friends warned Abyzov that he should not return to Russia for now.

"Operative efforts of the FSB 'lured' him to come here. The operation involved an influential man, whom Abyzov fully trusted and who told him that 'everything is alright.' He arrived a week ago, saw no action in his regard, and calmed down. He was taken to the Investigative Committee on Tuesday," the source said.

It was reported earlier that Abyzov and his accomplices were charged with establishing and participating in a criminal group and committing a fraud. According to investigators, Abyzov conspired with Nikolai Stepanov, Maxim Rusakov, Galina Fraidenberg, Alexander Pelipasov, and Sergei Ilyichev to deceive shareholders of Siberian Energy Company JSC and Regional Power Grids JSC generating and transmitting electric power in the Novosibirsk region, and to steal 4 billion rubles from those companies. All of the money was transferred abroad.