Deputy prosecutor of Saint-Petersburg Feofil Kekhiopulo seems to set himself the task of making life harder for anybody who competes with Apeks Group of Companies. Apeks Group’s rivals face obviously made-up charges with amazing regularity. It is interesting that the criminal cases are initiated by the authorities controlled by Mr Kekhiopulo.
For reasons unknown since late spring 2010 Feofil Kekhiopulo has been displeased with Accord (Limited Liability Company) that imports and wholesale paint, varnish and lacquer materials. Of course, the bigwig prosecutor does not speak openly about his tastes. At the same time in summer 2010 the economic crimes department (UNP) of the city’s militia (GUVD) became interested in the Accord business. This happened after a strange petition to St. Petersburg Transport Prosecutor’s offices filed by an ex-lawyer Timofey Boyer, who had lost his license after violating the advocate’s ethics code.
UNP carefully inspected Accord’s documents from the period from January 1, 2007 to May 31, 2010. As a result of the inspection the executive auditor came to a dubious conclusion that the budged might have lost 43 million roubles because of tax evasion. Or it might have not! Did the company indeed evade taxes? No one can say for sure, because the inspection did not study all documents.
We have to say it is naked truth! The editorial board has obtained a copy of reference from the tax authority which clearly states that Accord Group has no tax liabilities for the period under investigation. However this has not influenced the approach of law-enforcement officials towards the company. At the end of October, 2010, the investigative department of St. Petersburg’s Kalininsky district militia instituted the criminal proceedings against ‘an unidentified person who really manages a business of the Accord Group’. John Doe faces charges under Article 199.2 of the Criminal Code of the RF (large-scale tax-evasion).
Initiating the case in a hurry, the militia missed a subtle detail. Article 199 of the Criminal Code makes it mandatory to acquire the decision of tax authority on bringing a taxpayer to justice before initiating the case. But, again, Accord Group has no tax liabilities whatsoever. And thus the tax authority cannot have come to such decision. It seems that legal requirements make no difference for Kalininsky district militia.
At the time when the proceedings were being initiated Feofil Kekhiopulo left his post of the Transport Prosecutor and became city’s Deputy Prosecutor. It was his duties then to pay attention to the very strange case which Kalininsky district militia initiated despite the legal requirements.
Another company Feofil Kekhiopulo holds in abomination is Veles (Limited Liability Company). Incidentally this company also competes with Apeks Group. Previous summer when Kekhiopulo served as a Transport Prosecutor the officers of his department decided to check the cargo of paint, varnish and lacquer materials which had been imported to Russia and come through the Baltic Customs. In the opinion of the prosecutor’s office the goods had been smuggled.
The decision to check the cargo was motivated by the fact that the cargo invoice was issued by Riverford Limited, but the stamp belonged to a different company, namely Europe Star Corporation. We have to admit that this is a violation of customs regulations. But according to the law such violations are considered administrative not criminal. The criminal charges for smuggling may be brought if the cargo’s price exceeds 1.5 billion roubles. In fact, the Veles’ materials cost approximately 1.2 billion, according to the estimation of the customs officials. The transport prosecutor’s office decided to avoid this uncomfortable fact.
Deputy Transport Prosecutor Artyom Zatochkin asked the Chamber of Trade and Industry of Saint-Petersburg to evaluate the cargo’s market price. This clearly was a trick. Every businessman working in Russia knows that the customs works with so-called ‘customs price’ which is something different from the market price. All customs payments are made according to the customs price, which is a far cry from what the goods really cost. The Chamber’s estimation was easy to predict: with reference to unknown price-lists, the Chamber estimated the price to be over 3.5 million roubles, something really amazing. If the price estimation were true no one would buy these goods, because they would cost many times more than they really cost in the shops of Saint Petersburg. This artless trick was used by the investigation department of the Baltic Customs as a pretext to criminal proceedings’ initiation. Again a criminal case under Article 188.1 of the CC of the RF (smuggling) was opened against ‘a group of identified people’. And again the Transport Prosecutor Feofil Kekhiopulo overlooked a strange case. Kekhiopulo is again chasing John Doe.
Veles once more
Another case has been opened recently by the investigative department of St Petersburg’s Kirovsky District militia. A month ago the criminal proceedings against a group of unidentified people were initiated under Article 188.4 of the CC of the RF (smuggling committed by a group). This case implies the imprisonment for a period up to 12 years. The details of the proceedings are kept in secret, but the investigation has already questioned the director general of Veles (LLC). So far he gave a witness testimony.