Thursday, February 28, 2013

Crime, politics, law enforcement...and banking..

Several days ago I posted about the 'Tangled web of crime, politics, law enforcement, and business...' that has resurfaced thanks to the attempts of the current authorities to dump the blame for the killing of Donetsk businessman Yevhen Shcherban on former PM Yulia Tymoshenko.

Shcherban, of course, was only one of dozens of top businessmen/gangsters that came to a violent end in the early and mid nineties in Donesk and surrounding areas.

The evidence thus far presented by prosecutors in pre-trial hearings into Shcherban's murder, in particular that of 'witness' Ihor Maryinkov, has bordered on the farcical.

However I missed out one more obvious thread in this web of crime, politics, law enforcement, and business - that of banking...The huge sums of money being made by unlawful means that enabled certain people to turn into immensely wealthy oligarchs had to be filtered/laundered through the banking system that existed in Ukraine at that time. It is probably safe to assume that most of the money passing through banks in Ukraine in the early and mid nineties came from highly suspect sources.

Tetyana Chornovol alludes to this in her latest 'Ukrainska Pravda' blog which is entitled:

"Was Kushnir the agent of an associate of  Volodymyr Shcherban's  financed by Valentina Arbuzova?"

[Kushnir was head of an allegedly notorious band of killers who were found guilty of murdering several of the most prominent politicians/gangsters/government officials in Ukraine.

Volodymyr Shcherban, a former governor of  Donetsk and close associate of Yevhen Shcherban, is due to testify next week.

Valentyna Arbuzova is mother of the former head of the National Bank of Ukraine and now deputy PM, Serhiy Arbuzov.]

Here is a summary of Chronovol's blog:

The Shcherban  murder trial has now begun; but already the impression is that it is completely rigged.

The "professional" witness Maryinkov gave evidence in almost all of the trials of members of the Kushnir gang. But he also admitted he was very close with members of this bloody gang - Ryabin, a gang member, and Kushnir himself even slept in his hotel room, and then it turns out that he has a particularly close relationship with three generals of the SBU [Security Service of Ukraine]. In particular, he is a business partner of Yuriy Vandin, who had investigated the murder Shcherban. Surely it is nonsense when a prosecution witness is so close to the investigator who initiated charges in any criminal case.

Chornovol refers to a letter sent in 2007 to the Ukrainian Commissioner for Human Rights, Nina Karpachova, by former police Major Vyacheslav Sinenko, who was convicted for his involvement in the murder of Donetsk mafia capo Akhat Bragin. [more on Sinenko in the first link of this blog]

Sinenko claims that the charges against him were fabricated.  Coincidentally, Maryinkov was the main prosecution witness who testified against Sinenko.

In one portion of this letter. Sinenko wrote that amongst members of the Kushnir gang mentioned by investigators, he only knew Kushnir as the brother of the head of police investigations, Colonel Yakov Kushnir, and as an agent of the head of  Donetsk police, General Varaki, a.k.a 'Rogov'.

Kushnir's brother really did work for the police.  However, he retired long before the murder of Shcherban, and a few years later emigrated to Israel.

General Varaki was known to be extremely close to the-then Donetsk  governor Volodymyr Shcherban in the mid 90's. When Volodymyr Scherban was later appointed governor of Sumy, he invited Varaki to be part of his team.  Varaki  did not work for long as deputy governor of Sumy - a month later he was killed in a car crash ...

Before the trials into the murders of Bragin and Shcherban no-one had ever heard of the Kushnir gang in Donbas. The names usually mentioned by locals were other "heroes" such as Givi, Alik Grek, Yuriy Maloy, Rinat, Misha Kosoy.

In 1994, a local branch of PrivatBank was opened in the town. According to inside sources, in the first years of its operation, it actively laundered money for Shcherban. However, what is particularly interesting is that it also "funded" the Donetsk police, in particular General Varaki. In 1995 the bank established a "Charitable Foundation for the Police" which for several years was run by  General Varaki personally. The manager of the Donetsk branch of PrivatBank during those years, was Valentyna Arbuzov, mother of the current Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Arbuzov, a prominent member of 'The Family'.

[Investigators into money laundering in Donetsk have in the past frequently come to a sticky end. E.g. check out here and here ]

Chornovol suggests it is hardly likely Volodymyr Shcherban would have any reason for malevolence toward his distant family member Yevhen - they worked hand in glove as they rose to the top. But the ties described in her latest blog add more weight to the view that the Kushnir gang were totally 'set up' to take the rap for many of the high-profile murders that took place in the mid-nineties. [In the way Tymoshenko is now being set up?..F.N.]

p.s Over the years Volodymyr Shcherban's name has cropped up in my blogs on several occasions - not a nice man.

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