The businessman, whose extradition Russia has recently demanded from France, from the Kremlin is seeking $ 12 billion in compensation for the plundering of his industrial Empire. In an interview the Challenges he faces Putin even more of a scandal than “Panamanian documents”.
53-year-old Sergey Pugachev were part of the entourage of Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin in the 1990s and 2000s years, and was master of a vast Empire that included banks, coal mines and shipyards. Now he lost everything. Adopted by the Kremlin at the end of 2000-ies the solution gave the results. He’s wanted by Russian law enforcement agencies for fraud and misappropriation of funds in the case of the bankruptcy of Mezhprombank in 2010. All his assets were confiscated, and most of the accounts frozen. 2 March, Russia has asked France to extradite him.
Anyway, the former owner of a shipyard in St. Petersburg decided to answer blow for blow. In an interview with Challenges, he argues that Vladimir Putin stole from him, achieves in the Hague court compensation $ 12 billion and requires to call at the hearing, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and the head of Rosneft Igor Sechin. In addition, he wants to put $ 6 billion on sekvestirovat account sign assurance of compliance with her court decision.
Challenges: What do you think about the request for extradition, signed on March 2, Deputy Prosecutor General of Russia Sahak Karapetyan?
Sergei Pugachev: the Law does not allow France to extradite its citizens. I’m French citizen, and ceased to be Russian in 2012. Thus, the request is absolutely absurd.
— What then is associated the request of Russian law enforcement agencies?
— My decision to apply against Russia the claim on 21 September 2015 in the framework of bilateral agreement on investment protection between France and Russia. The past six months, the Kremlin is trying to intimidate me. In Russia against me a criminal case was initiated. Managers of my former companies was detained without any grounds, and the Federal security service has searched. The arrests were carried out in order to against me had given false testimony. It was openly said in the course of Dmitry Amanza, who now sits in prison. Representatives of the Prosecutor General and the FSB tried to elicit false testimony against me in exchange for the release…
— How would you respond to the accusation of fraud and embezzlement of funds ($700 million) from the Russian law enforcement?
To accuse me of stealing my own money — absurd! Especially in the time of the looting of my assets, my property, was officially estimated at about 15 billion… After the theft of my property, which was attended by President Putin, Prime Minister Medvedev and the people close to them businessmen, I expected that Russia would resort to blackmail. In my case we are talking about documents, not only about the theft of my property, but also about the principles of formation of the Putin regime. I am convinced that he and his entourage know what to prepare for and assess risks. We are talking about documents and evidence that will put into perspective the people who run Russia today. For them, the consequences will be far more serious than the publication by journalists of “the Panama document”.
— So you don’t trust the case to the Russian court?
The main problem in Russia is the lack of equality in the judicial system. This allows you to fake anything, if so necessary to the Kremlin. Total corruption of law enforcement and the courts does not leave the Russian citizens the chance to defend himself. As we all know, Russia does not comply with international obligations and seeks to show its relevance in the international arena, threats and show of force. Just look at claimed thousands of lives, the conflict in Ukraine, the annexation of the Crimea, trying to protect the Assad regime in Syria, and other developments. In comparison with these false accusations against me seem sheer nonsense.
— Why do you see the hand of Putin behind this process?
— It is he, Putin, has benefited from all that was connected with the expropriation of my assets. He personally led me talks about selling all my assets in Russia.
But his spokesman completely denied his involvement in your business…
Is a lie. Under the pretext that I am a citizen of France, Putin himself suggested me purchasing all my strategic, he said, assets. Putin made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I fulfilled all my obligations in the transaction but never received payment. So I had no choice but to turn to the Hague court.
— They say you were part of the entourage of Vladimir Putin in the 1990s and 2000s. Why is it, in your opinion, changed his attitude to you?
— Hard to say. I knew Putin because he was in a wonderful relationship with the former mayor of St. Petersburg Anatoly Sobchak. When Putin came to Moscow, we talked a lot, particularly because our children were the same age and were friends. This communication has formed strong family ties. I have had a close relationship with family and environment of Yeltsin, who experienced difficulties in the late 1990-ies. In this regard, I recommend Putin to succeed Yeltsin as President of the country. It was a long time ago. It’s been 17 years. To the question “what changed?” I answer: “everything.”
— You require to at the hearing at the Hague court heard Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Igor Sechin, former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin… Why?
— Expropriation of my assets were held near Putin’s entourage, that is, Medvedev, Sechin, Kudrin, Ulyukayev and many others. I am convinced that they must appear in court and give public testimony. The court has the right to call a witness any person, regardless of position, if he has no immunity, like Putin.
— In addition, you require to Russia opened sequestrati account for a few billion dollars…
— The goal is to ensure the execution of the decision of the Hague court on this case. We demand that Russia put 50% of the requested amount, i.e. $ 6 billion, on account of the court, or the freezing of assets of Russia in the world for the full amount of the claim.
— You have repeatedly claimed that your life is in danger. Is that still true?
— Russia is pursuing a policy of intimidation, as on its territory and abroad. Representatives of the Russian state took me on French territory and demanded that I stopped fighting for the return of my assets. They also tried to extort a large sum of money, threatening to kill me and my family. When I was in London, anti-terrorist unit of Scotland Yard found under my car supposedly explosive devices. Is a criminal investigation. It’s going slower than I’d like.