The state prosecutor asked to sentence the former management of Nizhny Novgorod Vodokanal JSC and his alleged accomplices to terms of 13 to 19 years for taking bribes from suppliers as part of an organized criminal community (OPS). The total amount of fines requested by the prosecutor’s office for the defendants totaled 450 million rubles. According to the plot of the case, in 2018-2020, ex-general director Nikolai Nikolyuk headed the Nizhny Novgorod wing of the criminal community created by Muscovites Oleg Lobanov and Ilya Ryzhy, and collected bribes through intermediaries. The defense of the five defendants is preparing to deliver speeches of innocence, of the four main defendants, only Mykola Nikolyuk partially admitted receiving the money.
In the Kanavinsky District Court of Nizhny Novgorod, the debate of the parties began in a high-profile criminal case on bribes in Nizhny Novgorod Vodokanal JSC. Former general director Nikolai Nikolyuk, his first deputy Alexander Sidlyarevich, the founder of the Moscow foundations Joy and Consolation and the Society of Friends of the Vatoped Monastery on Mount Athos, Oleg Lobanov, and his son-in-law Artem Vasilenko were accused of receiving kickbacks from contractors. The fifth defendant, Nizhny Novgorod businessman Vladimir Pshenichnikov, was charged with attempted fraud related to the supply of furniture allegedly at inflated prices.
According to the state prosecution, in 2018-2020, Oleg Lobanov and Ilya Ryzhiy created an organized criminal community (OPS) in Moscow to extort bribes from contractors, contributing to the appointment of Nikolai Nikolyuk to a senior position in the Nizhny Novgorod Vodokanal. He, as the investigation believes, headed the Nizhny Novgorod wing of the OPS, receiving bribes through the deputies Alexander Sidlyarevich and Alexander Zhernokov, Artem Vasilenko and Sergey Bagaev, who became an unspoken adviser to the general director.
As follows from the materials of the case announced on Tuesday, the four defendants received 41 million rubles in kickbacks.
Half of this amount was transferred by Moscow businessman Aleksey Yunkevich: his companies Unicon-ZSK and Investment Technologies acted as subcontractors under large investment contracts for the water utility to repair collectors, and Nikolai Nikolyuk allegedly threatened to terminate the contract with the general contractor. Another episode of the accusation was kickbacks from suppliers Tekhnostroy, Promkhimservis and Nizhegorodets. The latter company won the tender for the improvement of the territories after excavations and re-laying of networks, transferring a total of 11 million rubles to the specified accounts so that the management of the water utility works with it.
Other suppliers also paid, according to the prosecutor’s office, for timely payment under contracts, maintenance and extension of contracts, as well as an increase in the volume of supplies of products or services needed by the water utility. A curious episode is connected with the cleaning company “Adamant-NN”, whose director Oksana Bryzgunova fictitiously employed the wife of Sergei Bagaev with a monthly salary of 200 thousand rubles for the extension of contracts. In total, Mrs. Bagaeva earned 1.4 million rubles, which the investigation considered a bribe for prolonging contracts with the water utility.
In general, according to investigators, Oleg Lobanov and Ilya Ryzhiy took most of the kickbacks: they took 80% of the bribes collected from businessmen, which the defendants in the case received personally in cafes, shopping centers in Nizhny Novgorod and Moscow, at railway stations and rented apartments.
Also, funds were transferred through affiliated companies in Omsk, Neftekamsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Perm and Moscow, as well as Oleg Lobanov’s charitable foundations. At the same time, Nikolay Nikolyuk’s team did not have enough money: from the transcript of the announced wiretapping of the negotiations, it followed that there was little “eating” for the defendants, and it was difficult for Nikolay Nikolyuk to financially provide for all the alleged participants in the criminal scheme. And with the advent of “Little”, as they called Artem Vasilenko, the shares decreased, so it was necessary to collect more bribes.
At the same time, the security forces failed to catch Ilya Ryzhy: one of the alleged organizers of the group was not detained.
The prosecutor, considering the existence of the OPS proved, requested harsh terms for the four main defendants.
He proposed to sentence Nikolai Nikolyuk to 19 years in a strict regime colony with a fine of 120 million rubles, Oleg Lobanov to 18.5 years with a fine of 120 million rubles. respectively. The prosecutor’s office asked Alexander Sidlyarevich to be punished with imprisonment for 18 years and a fine of 110 million rubles, Artem Vasilenko was asked for a term of 13 years and a fine of 100 million.
The defendants and their lawyers did not comment on the requested terms – they will express their position in defensive speeches. Only Mykola Nikolyuk admitted guilt in receiving money for part of the episodes, but he also said in court that he did nothing for suppliers, which would be included in the qualification of a bribe. The remaining defendants have previously declared their innocence. We add that the real terms, despite the deal with the investigation, in the allocated criminal cases were received by the former deputy for the development of the water canal, Alexander Zhernokov, and the director’s guarantor, Sergei Bagaev.