20 Jun 2023 19:54

Banker Morales Escomilla sentenced by Moscow court to 11 years for illegally removing 1.6 bln rubles from Russia

MOSCOW. June 20 (Interfax) - Moscow's Savyolovsky District Court has handed down an 11-year prison sentence to the banker Agustin Morales Escomilla for illegally transferring more than 1.6 billion rubles out of the country, the Prosecutor General's Office said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Having sided with the state prosecutor, the court found Morales Escomilla guilty of the charge. He has received a penalty in the form of 11 years' imprisonment at a high-security correctional facility and a one-million-ruble fine, with one year of restricted freedom," the statement said.

Morales Escomilla was found guilty of running part of a criminal gang and using forged documents for forex money transfers to non-residents' accounts.

The court established that in 2013 the banker was the owner of SMARTBANK.

"Operating as part of a criminal group led by Veaceslav Platon, Vladimir Plahotniuc, Alexander Korkin, jointly with Yelena Platon, Alexei Sobolev, and Lev Pakhomov, [Morales Escomilla] carried out transfers in foreign currency from the accounts of the lender to the bank accounts of a non-resident, AO KB Moldindkonbank," the statement said.

Russian lending institutions vested with the powers of a forex control agent were provided with documentation "containing knowingly false information as to the reasons, purposes and intention of the transfer, amounting to more than 1.6 billion rubles," the statement said.

Pretrial investigators reached an accommodation with Morales Escomilla, who fulfilled his obligations under it, the Prosecutor General's Office added.

One of the co-defendants is Plahotniuc, a Moldovan businessman and former leader of the Democratic Party.

Investigators believe that members of the international criminal gang illegally moved funds out of Russia in 2013-2014 via a Moldovan bank, Moldindconbank S.A.

According to the investigation, the members of the group carried out their illegal plan by transferring the money in foreign currency from their affiliated companies' Russian bank accounts to BC Moldindconbank S.A.'s bank accounts, which were opened, including with the Bank of New York, under the pretext of selling foreign currency. Subsequently, the proceeds in Russian rubles were written off the correspondent accounts of the Russian banks with BC Moldindconbank S.A. using forged Moldovan court rulings in favor of foreign entities (non-residents). The money was then transferred to foreign banks, to the accounts of the criminals' clients, mainly in Europe.

Plahotniuc and his presumed accomplice, Veaceslav Platon, are currently on the international wanted list.