As it became known to Business FM, after the Moscow City Court, after a year of being under arrest, the co-founder of the First Mortgage Company, Alexander Verkhoturov, who was accused of fraud for 160 million rubles, released him from custody, this decision was overturned by an appeal, instructing a lower court to consider the issue again . The Moscow City Court again sent Verkhoturov to jail. However, a week later, another judge of the Moscow City Court, when extending his preventive measure, considered that the defendant could be under a ban on certain actions, and released him again.
As Business FM previously reported, the 32-year-old businessman arrested on April 8, 2022 was released on April 4. Then the judge of the Moscow City Court Andrey Suvorov rejected the request of the Investigation Department of the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation for the Central Administrative District of the capital to extend Verkhoturov’s detention for a period of more than a year and transferred him to a ban on certain actions, forbidding him to leave an apartment in the center of the capital at night from eleven o’clock in the evening until seven in the morning.
However, this decision was appealed by the prosecutor’s office and the victims, who were recognized by about two dozen people in the case. It turned out that half of them were not notified of the hearing, which, as the First Court of Appeal considered on May 2, violated their rights.
The higher court did not arrest Verkhoturov, instructing the Moscow City Court to consider the issue of his further preventive measure again. This is what judge Elena Guchenkova did. On May 25, she granted the petition of the investigation, deciding to take Verkhoturov into custody in the courtroom. Meanwhile, on June 5, the deadline for the next extension of the preventive measure for the defendant came up.
The investigation, as before, asked Verkhoturov to a pre-trial detention center, this time until September 7th. At the same time, the possibility of hiding became the main argument for the further detention of the accused. The investigator indicated that the defendant could do this, as he had large financial resources, as well as foreign citizenship in the offshore state of St. Kitts and Nevis in North America.
The prosecutor’s office supported the petition, as well as a dozen victims and their representatives who appeared at the trial. The latter claimed that they were being psychologically pressured by the defendant by the fact that his firms continue to sue them over the mortgaged apartments, and his representatives say that they will lose the courts. The victims also considered that Verkhoturov continues to engage in criminal activity due to ongoing enforcement proceedings in their cases.
In turn, the defendant’s lawyer Olga Kubantseva called these arguments untenable, noting that foreign and foreign passports were confiscated during a search at Verkhoturov’s at the beginning of the investigation. Verkhoturov himself, who had “many potential opportunities to hide,” did not realize any of them for more than a month and a half after his release. Thus, he did not abscond either before the appeal or during the re-examination by the Moscow City Court of the investigation’s petition to extend his arrest. It took three days – May 23, 24 and 25. And all these days the accused came to court with things, being ready for a new arrest. According to the defender, the decisions of civil courts, during which her client defends his position, cannot be considered as pressure on the victims.
She noted that the investigation of the case had been completed and that Verkhoturov had been regularly familiarizing himself with 95 volumes of the case since March 2. At present, the accused has already studied 45 volumes.
The lawyer asked to reject the investigation’s petition, choosing for her client any other preventive measure not related to detention, including house arrest and prohibition of certain actions.
Judge Sergei Podoprigorov chose the latter. In his decision, he indicated that the investigation did not provide convincing arguments that, if released, the person involved would hide, and also that he was delaying the procedure for familiarizing himself with the case. The judge considered that he had a foreign passport and citizenship of another country as “unconvincing” grounds.
As a result, Alexander Verkhoturov was again released from custody in the courtroom. His lawyers, Dmitry Pozin and Olga Kubantseva, from the Belsky and Partners law firm, who defended him, said they were satisfied with the decision. According to the first, Verkhoturov is actually charged with committing crimes in the field of entrepreneurial activity, and under such circumstances, Article 108 of the Code of Criminal Procedure prohibits the arrest of businessmen.
The second called the decision of the Moscow City Court “a sensible decision that allows you to maintain a balance of all parties.” “In the same case, we see such a decision for the second time. This means that this is not the position of one judge, but a decision that is becoming the right trend, ”said Kubantseva.
Microloans in exchange for apartments
Co-founder and former general director of First Mortgage Company LLC (PZK LLC) Alexander Verkhoturov is charged with fraud on an especially large scale (part 4 of article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) and faces up to ten years in prison.
He is charged with 12 criminal episodes committed from 2017 to 2021: five completed episodes of fraud (part 4 of article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) and seven episodes of attempted fraud (part 3 of article 30, part 4 of article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). 20 Muscovites were recognized as victims in his case, most of whom were clients of the First Mortgage Company, which issued microloans to citizens.
The investigation alleges that by issuing loans to families (as a rule, people took out loans for apartment renovations) secured by real estate, Verkhoturov, together with “unidentified accomplices”, created conditions that prevented people from repaying the debt. They worsened, and borrowers could not repay loans. As a result, the company applied to the courts with claims to foreclose on the property of citizens. It was sold at auction. Several families of Muscovites were left without apartments, and one family lost a house with a plot in the Moscow region.
In two of the 12 episodes, we are not even talking about loans issued by PZK LLC, but about the rights of claim purchased by Verkhoturov for the apartments of two Muscovites. The latter once took loans from Derzhava Bank, which they could not repay. The investigation estimates the total damage in the case at 159.5 million rubles. This is the market value of the properties mentioned in the case. Ownership rights for seven of them did not have time to transfer to new owners, since Rosreestr did not have time to register them due to the fact that the Ministry of Internal Affairs seized the documents.
The businessman denies any wrongdoing. And his defense believes that the case is about civil law relations between borrowers and organizations that issued microloans and loans to them. In her opinion, Verkhoturov was engaged in entrepreneurial activities, and all decisions on the sale of real estate of citizens are based on the decisions of the capital’s courts that have entered into force.
According to the law, the prosecutor’s office and the victims can again challenge the decision of the Moscow City Court to release the person involved in the appeal. The law gives them three days for this.