Businessman Freidzon's story in flashback: Putin took bribes in 90ies
Businessman Max Freidzon, who has filed a suit in the Southern District of New York against OAO Gazprom and OAO Lukoil, tells Radio Svoboda about Vladimir Putin's early career.
Max Freidzon, born in the Russian city of St. Petersburg and being now a citizen of Israel and Russia, has filed a federal racketeering lawsuit in the Southern District of New York, alleging that Lukoil and Gazprom and its top officials are engaged in unlawful and criminal activities, falsifying of records, and depriving a shareholder of rightful ownership in a company.
Speaking in an interview with Radio Svoboda, Freidzon asserts that these companies are engaged in an organized international criminal activity which resulted, inter alia, in a forced loss of Freidzon's shareholding interest in a major oil distributor company operating since the 90ies. What is more, Freidzon witnessed the early career of incumbent Russian President Vladimir Putin and decided to disclose the details to the media outlet.
Freidzon also talks about billionaire Gennady Timchenko's connections with incumbent CEO of Gazprom Alexei Miller's "colleagues" from the criminal world.
He also confirms information about Vladimir Putin's meetings with leader of the Tambov organized criminal gang Vladimir Kumarin (Barsukov).
At that time, the businessman was engaged in the production of weapons.
"A special program was set up to create police weapons, and under this program we would meet several times with Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, who was then engaged in foreign economic activity. And, it goes without saying, our joint venture was registered by the [St. Petersburg] City Hall's foreign economic activity department headed by Putin," Freidzon said.
"At that moment, he [Putin] was, among other things, in charge of law enforcement agencies, and it was his department at the City Hall that we were drawing up a program with to introduce police weapons for use by law enforcement agencies. Originally, the program was designed for the regions, then it was supposed to become federal because it required a change in the so-called 01 Order [supposedly the Russian Law on Militia (Police) – the translator's note] about which weapons should be used to arm the police. All this was to be agreed with Vladimir Putin, FSB chiefs, Interior Ministry heads and the Moscow department, which was also engaged in this. Against this background, we had been working quite productively," Freidzon said.
According to the businessman, he was forced to give bribes to Putin, who simply wrote sums on a piece of paper during meetings.
"The money would be picked up by Vladimir Vladimirovich's assistant, Alex Miller. And Vladimir Vladimirovich, in an FSB-like manner, would simply write sums during conversations. <...> I didn't hand over money to him in person. Yet, Alex Miller quite successfully coped with that pleasant job. Of course, he might have kept [the money] for himself, but for some reason, I doubt it," Freidzon said.
He also disclosed the sum of bribes, saying it was $10,000.
"Quite a bit of money at that time. As far as I know, the amount depended on what profit was planned. We had many more steps ahead. We expected we would supply the St. Petersburg police, and it will be a long-term order, production at facilities at Voenmeh [Baltic State Technical University "Voenmeh," a major Russian military technical university in St. Petersburg. It has R&D and holds licenses for the production of all types of weapons – the translator's note]. It was meant to be a long-term construction [project]," he said.
According to Freidzon, his lawsuit against Gazprom and Lukoil doesn't mention the Russian president's name, as he "decided not to add the political component to the already complicated litigation."
Freidzon, a citizen of Israel and Russia, demands that the structures incorporated in Gazprom and Lukoil compensate a combined sum of $540.9 million for the share in the company they now control – CJSC SOVEX, which was the sole distributor of aero-fuel with an exclusive right to refueling complexes, tank farm and pipeline terminal at the St. Petersburg airport, Pulkovo, until 2013. The lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of New York on July 18, 2014. The defendants in the case are OAO Lukoil, Lukoil North America, LLC, OAO Gazprom, Gazprom Neft, and Gazpromneft-Aero.
The following individuals were designated as the personal defendants: Alexei Miller, the current CEO of Gazprom and Board Chairman of Gazprom-Neft; Alexander Dyukov, the current CEO of Gazprom Neft; and Ali Beglov, the current Director of Lukoil's St. Petersburg operations.
Freidzon asserts all these individuals are engaged in unlawful and criminal activities. The suit was filed under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.