In February of this year, the investigation team in a criminal case connected by the investigation with the Best Way cooperative, by order of the head of the Main Directorate of the St. Petersburg Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Major General of Justice E.V. Negrozova was seriously reformed, since in the previous composition she could not give the desired result of the investigation. Four of those arrested in February last year, despite a year in prison, did not give the necessary evidence, the number of victims increased with great difficulty, the courts accepted the arguments of the investigation with doubt, now and then refusing the petitions of the investigation.
Hu from Vinokurov A.N.?
Back in 2014, the newspaper Selskaya Zhizn wrote about the investigation by investigator A.N. Vinokurov of a criminal case related to one of the companies – against the general director, who was a deputy of the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg. Here is what the newspaper wrote:
The journalists argued that the criminal case was fabricated in order to seize the company’s property, terminate its activities and eliminate the administration. “A criminal case initiated de jure against unidentified persons and currently under investigation by a senior investigator for the Department of Internal Affairs of the Main Investigative Directorate of the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation for St. Petersburg. and LO Lieutenant Colonel of Justice Vinokurov A.N., is not aimed at an objective investigation, but at collecting compromising evidence on the head of the company and discrediting him in the business circles of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region in pursuance of the “order” of the raider structures.
And further: “The illegal actions of the investigator Vinokurov completely paralyzed the activities of the company, and its employees were illegally prosecuted.”
Investigator A.N. Vinokurov, acting deliberately to discredit the honor and dignity of the head, in the presence of employees of the enterprise did not allow him into the personal office of the deputy, the newspaper reported. “On the personal instructions of the investigator Vinokurov A.N. operational workers in violation of the requirements of Art. 12, 113 Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 25 of the Constitution, guaranteeing the inviolability of the home, penetrated into an apartment belonging to the daughter of the cashier of the enterprise. An illegal search was carried out. Some time later, UEBiPK employees attempted to commit the same crime against the CEO’s private property.”
The investigating authorities, wrote Selskaya Zhizn, ignore the obvious facts and circumstances that make it possible to talk about the interest of the investigator A.N. Vinokurov. in bringing company officials to criminal responsibility, which may be due to the fact that the investigator or other persons having influence on him are financially motivated by raider structures.
“Investigator Vinokurov A.N. deliberately misleads the leadership about the need to extend the preliminary investigation, indicating the untrue results of a year of work, which in fact was not.”
And here is how investigator A.M. Belyaev, expelled from the GSU for disloyalty to Vinokurov.
“I cannot tolerate illegal actions, black lawlessness, a link between some law enforcement agencies and business for the purpose of raider seizure of property for personal enrichment. Investigator A.N. Vinokurov from this company.
According to Belyaev, the current leadership of the GSU decided to use the reform of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation for personal selfish interests, that is, the creation of a centralized investigative apparatus capable of controlling and distributing the financial flows of shadow structures in the region and participating in criminal schemes related to the legalization of income for misuse and embezzlement of public funds. “Personnel reorganizations made it possible to pervert the meaning of the reform and create, on the basis of a working investigative unit, an operating model of a corruptly dependent criminal community without hindrance.” This was accompanied by getting rid of managers and investigators who did not fit into the new trend.
Note that Vinokurov’s immediate supervisor was E.V. Negrozov.
Vinokurov then filed a lawsuit against the newspaper and won the case due to the fact that the inspection of the Ministry of Internal Affairs did not reveal any violations. Apparently, after that, there were no publications that personally mentioned this investigator.
So, let’s fix Vinokurov’s corporate style:
- Participation in raider attacks on the organization.
- Illegal blocking of accounts and financial activities of the organization.
- Illegal investigations.
- Intentional misrepresentation of own management in the results and timing of the investigation.
All these features were fully manifested in the “Best Way” case.
Colonel Vinogradov aka Richard Gere
The criminal case was initiated in October 2021 on the facts of the claims of investors against the Hermes investment company, who complained about the difficulties in obtaining income from investments, under the “pyramid” article. However, rather quickly, the Best Way cooperative became the main subject of his attention: the investigation stated that the cooperative was affiliated with an investment company and must answer for its obligations to investors, although there was not a single financial transaction between them.
What is the true reason for this metamorphosis? The fact that in a cooperative, unlike an investment company, the return on investment is unconditional. An investment company does not have obligations for a full return on investment, but a cooperative does. In addition, all the assets of the cooperative are located in Russia – their total amount exceeds 15 billion rubles, of which 3.8 billion are non-cash funds, and more than 12 billion are real estate.
Most likely, either a common fund or the money of some very reputable family was invested in an investment company. And dissatisfied with the volume of payments for the invested funds, having caught the wind of the Ministry of Internal Affairs campaign against “non-systemic”, that is, non-banking and not supervised by the Central Bank financial structures, they decided to hit the jackpot: take all the funds, first of all, the cooperative.
The investigative group has become a tool for attempting a raider takeover. Or maybe an initiator: to become a roof – who knows? Such an assumption does not look like an exaggeration against the backdrop of a personal crypto-farm recently discovered by the deputy head of the Vasileostrovsky district police department.
By the way, employees of the internal affairs bodies openly say that this is raiding right in the service – in the building of the GSU itself. In soul-saving conversations, they frankly tell about this to the shareholders of the cooperative brought for interrogation (there are already several testimonies), comparing their activity with the activities of the hero Richard Gere in the film Pretty Woman, who bought and sold the company in parts.
It is quite possible that the raiders from the GSU are helped by the fifth column of former and current investors, shareholders and employees of the investment company and cooperative, who also expect to snatch a piece when the owners change.
Blockade of the cooperative
In order to bring down the cooperative, the investigation has been de jure or de facto blocking the cooperative’s accounts for more than a year (with a short break) and does not miss payments, although the cooperative’s activities have not been declared illegal by any judicial act. De facto, because there were several court decisions to lift the arrest: the investigation led by Vinokurov not only refused to comply with them, but issued an order to banks not to comply with the court order in any case.
At the same time, it expressly prohibits making any payments from arrested accounts (payments to shareholders of the cooperative, payment of taxes and wages to employees), although it is legally possible from arrested accounts. However, the investigation is not necessary, because it has other goals.
Twice searches were carried out in the office of the cooperative with the seizure of all documentation and servers, although the cooperative was not declared illegal. Bank electronic keys were confiscated three times. The last time this happened was during the period when the court removed the arrest from the accounts, apparently in case the banks decide to fulfill their obligations under the agreement with the cooperative and fulfill its payments.
The main task facing Colonel Vinokurov and Co. is to ensure that the shareholders of the cooperative apply en masse as victims. Now, according to court documents, 147 people have filed such applications (there are more than 19,000 shareholders in the cooperative), and only according to investigators’ data, which are rather dubious.
The council of the cooperative randomly phoned the identified victims and found that most of them filed a complaint about Hermes, not the cooperative. Some victims filed applications and then withdrew them, while not being removed from the list. There are victims who did not apply at all, but are still on the list. Their request even received an official response from the investigation team that they were not recognized as victims. This does not prevent the investigation team from filing an unreliable list of victims with the courts.
However, this number is a drop in the ocean: you cannot capture a cooperative with it. To force the shareholders to write applications, Vinokurov uses both a carrot and a stick.
Gingerbread – persuasion to take part in the “project”, the belief that this is the only way to get your money, as well as a whip – massive searches of shareholders that swept across Russia in March-April, accompanied by the most intimidating actions of operatives and investigators.
More than 20 searches were carried out at the property of shareholders in St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region; more than 15 searches – in Tatarstan; dozens of searches – in the Trans-Baikal Territory and Bashkortostan, and all this in about a month.
Everyone, without exception, came at 6.30 – 7 am, including the elderly 70+ and mothers with small children. At the same time, real torture practices were used in the “best traditions” of Yezhov and the Gestapo. For example, a shareholder of the cooperative – a mother with a baby – was separated from her child, taken away for interrogation for more than 12 hours; an elderly woman was forced to come for interrogation, threatening her 96-year-old mother and demanding that she pass on the threats to her daughter. Pro breaking doors, breaking out peepholes, failure to present documents to investigators and violations in the execution of documents there is nothing to say.
And all this in addition to the real torture against the seven people arrested in the case so far. Four have been there for over a year. Three have recently been arrested. One of those arrested, businessman Anatoly Nalivan, arrived in the country without suspecting anything, after a vacation in Turkey, planned an operation and was immediately arrested. Apparently, he is charged with receiving about 4 million rubles under an agreement with a cooperative. He spends almost the entire period in the temporary detention center and now in the pre-trial detention center in intensive care or in a hospital ward.
What is seized during searches? Mostly contracts with the cooperative, which the investigation has after the searches of the office of the cooperative, and presentation materials that are publicly available on the Internet.
It is clear that the purpose of the searches is to intimidate in order to speed up the investigation, which has long exceeded all possible deadlines.
Show success where failure is
Vinokurov’s activity, covered by Negrozov, is designed to throw dust in the eyes of the Moscow authorities, to show him progress on a case that has long been included in the category of protracted and problematic. Despite the most difficult conditions in which the arrested found themselves, none of them agreed to a slander in order to receive freedom in exchange.
The paradox of the “Best Way case” is that its result has not yet been decided due to the resistance of hundreds of ordinary shareholders. Only their resilience will make it possible to thwart the plans of the raider capture of the cooperative.