The Investigative Committee opened a criminal case against unidentified persons from the leadership of Russia’s largest charter airline Azur Air on suspicion of giving a bribe, a source in the Investigative Committee told RBC and confirmed a source familiar with the case file.
According to law enforcement agencies, the management of Azur Air and a number of other unidentified persons issued the ex-head of the flight operation department of the Federal Air Transport Agency Maxim Kostylev (he resigned from the department in the spring of 2022) trips to Turkey, “the cost of which was underestimated by 4.7 million rubles. compared to market prices, ”says one of RBC’s sources.
“A criminal case is being investigated against unidentified persons from the leadership of Azur Air on the grounds of a crime under Part 5 of Art. 291 (bribery) of the Criminal Code,” says a source in the Investigative Committee.
According to an RBC source familiar with the case file, the tours were issued through the Anex Tourism company (operating under the Anex Tour brand), associated with Azur Air. The tour package included a business class flight in July 2021, accommodation in the Turkish premium hotel Lujo Hotel Bodrum, which is owned by Serhat Kochkar, chairman of the supervisory board of Azur Air, the source continues.
According to investigators, this could have influenced the results of the inspection of the flight work of Azur Air by the Federal Air Transport Agency, which revealed a limited number of violations. The carrier received from the agency a certificate for its staff training center in June 2021 and promises to issue permits for additional cargo and passenger flights. On October 1 of the same year, Azur Air underwent a change in leadership: Yevgeny Korolev became the new CEO of the airline instead of Yuri Stogniy (the contract was not extended with him), who since March 2021 has been the director of the carrier’s technical department.
Now Anex Tourism is owned by Asek Eshpulatov, Azur Air is owned by Anna and Lyudmila Fukalov (SPARK data). Earlier co-owners of the airline were Rustem and Natalia Kochkar (worked in Anex Tour). Serhat Kochkar was the co-owner of Anex Tour.
The press service of Azur Air declined to comment. The representative of Anex Tour said that RBC’s request falls within the competence of the airline, for which he “is not in the right to speak.” RBC sent inquiries to the press service of the Investigative Committee and the Federal Air Transport Agency.
In 2018, Yury Malyshev, deputy head of the Rosaviatsia transportation regulation department, was arrested for taking a bribe from iFly CEO Yevgeny Filatov. The airline itself was fined 21.6 million rubles in 2019, the top manager received a suspended sentence and a fine of 6 million rubles. In December 2020, the court sentenced Malyshev to eight and a half years in prison and a fine of 15.5 million rubles.
In October 2022, the former head of the department of the qualification commission of the Federal Air Transport Agency, Maxim Pavlyuk, was arrested. At the end of December, the Federal Air Transport Agency announced the detention of Alexander Matyushkin, the newly hired deputy head of the digitalization department, for a “kickback”. Before that, law enforcement officers seized documents in the offices of three department officials at once: Tatyana Kocherova, head of the digital transformation and security department, Anna Pasko, head of the legal support and property relations department, and Elena Kudlaeva, head of the financial support, budget planning and reporting department.