25062019Headline:

Russian coalminers’ cry for help

Russian coalminers have launched a crowd-funding campaign as well as a petition calling for political support from Russia and the UK, in an effort to promote their demands.

Specifically, the coalminers are pushing for an investigation into the seizure of the Koksovaya-2 coalmine as well as the conditions under which Yevgeny Lazarevich (who was the bankruptcy supervisor of the coalmine) disappeared and was allegedly murdered. He disappeared two years ago and he is believed to be dead. In fact, his family believes that a specific Russian magnate’s effort to seize the abovementioned coalmine, is connected to the disappearance/murder of Lazarevich.

The coalminers even went as far as London for this case. Specifically, a representative of the coalminers spoke at an event at the British Parliament, which took place on 29 April and was organised by the British Conservative MP Sir Henry Bellingham and Lord Tim Razzall. Their representative posed a number of questions with regards to the conditions under which the coalmine was overtaken, where their money went, as well as the disappearance of Yevgeny Lazarevich. Yevgeny Lazarevich’s sister Anna, also spoke at the event claiming that the so-called “King of Coal”, Alexander Shchukin, is responsible for her brother’s disappearance/murder. Anna Lazarevich’s allegations have occasionally been featured Russian media. The newspaper Kommersant, even published her statement, saying that Shchukin is behind her brother’s disappearance.

More information on the Russian coalminers’ struggle and demands has been posted on http://www.bloodcoalmoney.com/.

Alexander Shchukin’s net worth is over $400m. The Russian magnate has often faced charges for the seizure of coalmines with disputed methods. In fact, over the last few months, legal proceedings are underway against him and seven other persons on charges of extortion, which aimed at taking over the Inskoy coalmine; Shchukin is currently serving a house arrest sentence of over 2 years for this case. His name was also linked to Cyprus, where he apparently owns assets. His relationship with Cyprus was mentioned in the discussion at the British Parliament, after it was stressed that the country’s authorities must contribute to the investigation of cases that may be linked to money laundering. In fact, there was mention of €15m that was transferred from Shchukin’s coalmine to a company registered in Cyprus, while attendees cited Russian journalists, who claim that a total of €100m had been transferred.

The online edition of The Telegraph also strengthened claims that Shchukin owns assets in Cyprus, Monaco and the UK, with an older story, which featured statements by his daughter, Elena Shchukina, owner of an art gallery London. Shchukin’s daughter claimed that she received death threats, following her father’s prosecution on charges of extortion for the control of the Inskoy coalmine. The report mentioned that the family owns assets in Monaco, the UK and Cyprus.

Moneyval’s evaluation

It is rather noteworthy that the discussion at the British parliament – during which suspicious money transfers were extensively mentioned – was attended by the two organisers as well as corruption and money laundering experts, such as Simon Farrel, member of the judiciary, Ros Prince, partner at Stephenson Harwood, a law firm specialising in fraud and asset tracing and Clovis Meath Baker, fellow of the think tank Chatham House.

It should be noted that on Monday 13 May, the Council of Europe’s permanent monitoring body Moneyval, began its evaluation of Cyprus, with a view to assess the country’s anti-money laundering procedures. Moneyval’s mission is to evaluate the effectiveness of the measures that the island is putting forward in order to combat money laundering. In this regard, meetings are taking place with all the competent bodies, the Central Bank of Cyprus, the Ministry of Finance, the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission, the Unit for Combatting Money Laundering (MOKAS), the banks, the Cyprus Bar Association and the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Cyprus. At the same time, they will be meeting with companies, asking their members to reply to a specific questionnaire on how they handle customers in accordance with Cypriot legislation.

Sources
• https://www.kommersant.ru/doc/3764810
• http://www.bloodcoalmoney.com/
• https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/10/13/london-gallery-owner-facing-death-threats-russian-oligarch-father/
• http://www.philenews.com/oikonomia/kypros/article/699707/i-moneyval-archizei-to-xeskonisma