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MOSCOW, November 28 (Itar-Tass) — The investigation does not rule out adding new articles to the criminal case of embezzling humanitarian aid provided by Russia to the Dniester Region (Transnistria).
Spokesman for the Russian Investigative Committee (SK) Vladimir Markin told Itar-Tass that “it has been found within the criminal case investigation that (the son and daughter-in-law of the Transnistria head) Oleg and Marina Smirnovs in 2010-2011 were regularly receiving money from a Cyprus company. The total amount of funds they have received is more than one million us dollars.”
“According to investigators, the Cypriot company’s payments to Smirnovs are a disguised form of laundering of proceeds they got as a result of theft of humanitarian aid provided by Russia. In this connection the actions of Smirnov and his associates can be additionally qualified by the investigation under other articles of the RF Criminal Code,” the RF SK official added.
The Russian humanitarian project for Transnistria was launched in 2007 after an appeal from its parliament to the State Duma. Since then more than 2 billion roubles have been directed to the region. A part of this money was used for additional allowances to pensioners who number more than 137,000, and for support to the agro-industrial sector.
Last year Moscow suspended the aid due to its misuse. The Russian Investigative Committee said about 160 million roubles were stolen from the humanitarian aid. Transnistria’s Gazprombank which was controlled by the regional leader Igor Smirnov’s son and daughter-in-law. Russian police searched the offices of several firms belonging to the Transnistrian leader’s son, Oleg Smirnov, in early November. “The offices of legal entities where Oleg Smirnov is the founder and top manager were searched within the framework of criminal case,” Investigation Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told Itar-Tass earlier. “Financial, business and other documents related to the criminal case were seized,” he said. “It has been established during the investigation that Oleg Smirnov used premises registered as the representative office of the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic in… Moscow to cover up for his financial activities in the Russian Federation,” he said. “The investigation and detective work continues in order to determine all the circumstances of the crime,” Markin added.
In late October, the Russian Investigative Committee opened a criminal case against Oleg Brizitsky, deputy chairman of the Transnistrian Republican Bank, Oleg Smirnov and other officials suspected of theft by way of large-scale embezzlement committed by a group of people by collusion.
According to the investigators, from November 2008 to November 2009 Brizitsky, by preliminary agreement with Smirnov and other persons, stole the money disbursed by the Russian government in humanitarian aid to Transnistria to support pensioners and agriculture. As a result, about 160 million roubles were stolen.
Smirnov is registered in Moscow, has Russian citizenship and bought several flats in Moscow and an upscale mansion in the Moscow region using the stolen money. He also the founder of several commercial firms in Moscow, whose operations are being audited for compliance with tax legislation.
On November 7, the Investigation Committee urged the Foreign Ministry to bring two suspects – Brizitsky and Smirnov – for questioning. Both were said to be in Cyprus.