Savelovsky District Court of Moscow banned certain actions for Valeria Chekalina and her husband Artyom, accused of tax fraud for 130 million. Infogypsies have already said goodbye to subscribers.
Hundreds of millions scam
The division of the Investigative Committee of Russia for Moscow, which filed against the spouses Artem And Valeria (Lerchek) Chekalin a new case – under the fourth part of article 174.1 of the Criminal Code “Laundering of funds acquired by a person as a result of committing a crime, on an especially large scale”, the Savelovsky District Court requested a ban on certain actions as a preventive measure for bloggers. This is more than mild, given that the article threatens the perpetrators with up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to one million rubles.
According to the investigation, in April 2021, the Chekalins, “acting by a group of persons by prior agreement, legalized (laundered) the money obtained by criminal means on an especially large scale in the amount of more than 130 million rubles, acquiring US currency on them, which masked the connection of legalized funds with a criminal source of their origin. The money allegedly came from unpaid taxes for the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2020.
The court upheld the investigation and was the first to ban certain actions by Lerchek. Then her husband. Spouses-infogypsies have lost access to the main tool for earning money – smartphones, computers and the Internet. They can only communicate with their families. Apparently, they guessed what awaited them, so before the meeting they posted farewell posts to their subscribers on social networks. However, a whole team usually works for bloggers of this level, which will continue to manage their social networks.
— Shock, surprise. I hope for justice. That there will be a positive outcome,” Lerchek said in court.
This is the second criminal case against the Chekalins. Earlier, Valeria was charged under the second part of Article 198 of the Criminal Code “Tax evasion by failure to provide a tax return, committed on an especially large scale”, and her husband – under the fifth part of Article 33 and the second part of Article 198 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation “Aiding tax evasion “.
According to the Moscow prosecutor’s office, in 2020-2021. Valeria Chekalina, an individual entrepreneur, evaded paying taxes on value added and on income totaling more than 311 million rubles, which is considered a particularly large amount. On March 7, searches took place in the bloggers’ mansion, which shocked even worldly-wise operatives.
How Lerchek and her husband live
At the end of February, the Chekalins returned from Amsterdam, where they had been taken for a walk on a private jet, and after that they were going to leave Russia. Did not have time.
First of all, the operatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs visited the palace, located in the Agalarov Estate cottage settlement. Here, 24 kilometers from Moscow along Novorizhskoye Highway, among century-old pines, picturesque lakes and golf courses, there are 260 mansions, the cost of which starts from 170 million rubles. Among them, a house with a total area of about 2200 square meters stands out for its size, for the construction and arrangement of which the Chekalins spent about a billion rubles.
Inside, the detectives found eight kilogram bars of gold worth 37 million rubles. Later, Artyom Chekalin explained to the public that the ingots were allegedly given to him by the bank in exchange for the dollars frozen in the accounts. Along with the precious bars in the safe, there was a large amount of cash in foreign currency, Russian passports and a US passport issued in the name of one of the bloggers’ three children.
There was a whole fleet of luxury cars in the garage: Rolls-Royce Cullinan Black Badge (price – about 62 million rubles), Lamborghini Urus (28 million), a special Mercedes-Benz G AMG G 63 (about 25 million), a simpler Mercedes , which Artyom Chekalin was going to give to his father – about 7 million rubles.
Later, a list of the property of the Chekalins turned out to be: an apartment on Serpukhov Val with an area of 150 square meters. It is known that the couple got it for 57 million rubles, and repairs in it cost another 21 million. Two apartments on Dekabristov Street in the north-east of Moscow: one with an area of 83 square meters and costing about 20 million rubles, the other is smaller – 38 squares (about 10 million).
The Chekalins also own a country house in the elite cottage village Ilyinka Lanehouse in the Moscow region. The plot area is 523 squares, a luxurious house on it is about 400 squares. The cost of this magnificence is about 125 million rubles. And besides, the bloggers ended up with two apartments in their native Togliatti – one with an area of 200 square meters worth about 7 million rubles, the other – 94.4 squares (about 3.5 million).
Thus, the state of the Chekalins can already be estimated at about one and a half billion rubles.
Why Lerchek can be imprisoned
Investigators believe that from 2020 to 2022, Lerchek, in the status of an individual entrepreneur, actively used the simplified taxation scheme, which only works if the annual income does not exceed 150 million rubles.
In fact, Lerchek earned much more from her fitness marathons. In order not to pay the tax authorities, the blogger transferred money to settlement accounts opened on the IP of her husband and other relatives. Together, each family member showed the revenue needed for the “simplified” scheme.
According to the SHOT telegram channel, the official annual income of only one of the Chekalins’ companies, BE FIT, is about 3 billion rubles. It was through this company that bloggers sold online marathons to create a “perfect body” and cosmetics.
On her brand Letique Cosmetics, Lerchek earned about 110 million rubles a year, which formally fits into the simplified taxation limit. But investigators believe that the money was withdrawn through companies registered just for relatives.
Marathon participants Chekalina revealed the scheme of her business: in her social networks, Lerchek played cars, iPhones and TVs.
To get a chance to win, you had to buy at least one cosmetic product advertised by the blogger. However, the participants noticed that they did not get expensive prizes. One of the subscribers even sued the blogger and was able to sue a little more than six thousand rubles.
In addition, Lerchek traded the franchise of her marathons. As one of the businesswomen told the SHOT channel, she acquired a franchise for 1.1 million rubles. At first, the business went uphill, but after a couple of years the conditions of the game changed: Lerchek and Artyom allegedly forbade “franchise players” to hold draws on sites in order to lure customers. Then, through them, the Chekalins allegedly launched their own campaign, due to which the clients of the franchise buyers flowed to Lerchek herself. As a result, bloggers’ partners began to go into the red and go bankrupt, and, according to the victim, all over Russia.
Another marathon runner Irina Zherdeva – discovered a scheme by which bloggers could launder money. According to her, they have two twin sites where the Chekalins sell their products. On one of them you can pay only with cards of the Russian payment system. They are, of course, taxed. But payments from the second site go directly to the black account in the United Arab Emirates without providing an electronic check to the buyer.
What could cause the blogger’s troubles
In August last year, Valeria Chekalina unexpectedly accused her friend, a star stylist Elvira Yankovskaya in that she allegedly sells her fakes for premium clothing brands. Under this took for them as for originals. Everything was found out at the Central Department Store, where Chekalina allegedly took the purchased items for examination.
After that, a corresponding statement to the police appeared from another blogger – Evgenia Zelenova. The woman said that she bought clothes from Yankovskaya for almost half a million rubles. As a result, a criminal case was opened under the fourth part of Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation “Fraud on an especially large scale”, and now the woman faces up to three years in prison. On February 8, Yankovskaya was placed under house arrest.
Perhaps the offended stylist could raise ties in order to take revenge on her offender.