5 (1)

 

https://scientologymoneyproject.com/2020/08/19/the-trial-of-five-russian-scientologists-for-money-laundering-other-crimes-follows-years-of-russias-continuing-crackdown-on-scientologys-illegal-activities/

 

Tensions between the Russian government and the Church of Scientology have existed ever since the Church of Scientology entered Russia on an unwanted basis. The Russian government correctly views the Church of Scientology as a sinister American-based transnational criminal organization embedded within a totalitarian cultic structure. What will it take for American authorities to come to this same correct understanding?

Scientology covers up for the rapists and child molestors in its ranks. The Church of Scientology is also notorious for condoning and profiting from the financial crimes conducted by its members. Financial crimes are one of the major reasons why Scientology is in trouble in Russia.

In a recent post here we documented the bail bond totals of Scientologists awaiting criminal trials:

1. Danny Masterson:  Three Counts of Felony Rape. $3,300,000 bond.
2. Dr. Dennis Nobbe: Healthcare fraud, money laundering. $200,000 bond.
3. Leo Hamel: Illegal gun sales. $250,000 bond.
4. Hanan Islam:  MediCal Fraud. $250,000 bond.
5. Rizza Islam: MediCal Fraud. $100,000 bond.
6. Jeffrey Spina: Medicare Fraud. $200,000 bond.
7. Jay Spina: Medicare Fraud. $200,000 bond.
8. Kim Spina: Medicare Fraud. $100,000 bond.
* Michael Cohn:  Obstruction of Justice charge related to his employment at Scientologist-owned GPB Capital. $250,000 bond. Although Michael Cohn is not a Scientologist we include him in the total as his arrest occurred in the course of his obtaining employment at GPB Capital Holdings.

Total: $4,500,000 in bonds for Scientologists and one of their enablers out on bond awaiting criminal trial.

The Russians see all of this Scientology criminality and rightly seek to outlaw Scientology or severely curtail its activities. In this article we give a brief history of the raids conducted by Russian security forces on Scientology facilities between 2011 and 2019. We also comment on the criminal trial of five Russian Scientologist that has just started in St. Petersburg.


2011

In 2011, the Russian Federal Security Service conducted a dramatic raid on Scientology’s headquarters in Moscow. Embedded reporters were allowed to document the raid and report on it:

2016

The Moscow Times reported on the 2016 raid:

Ten people were detained Tuesday after police searched the office of St. Petersburg’s scientology organization, an unidentified source in law enforcement told the RIA Novosti news agency.

Large-scale searches were carried out Tuesday in the Moscow and St. Petersburg churches of Scientology, another source in law enforcement told the Interfax news agency earlier on Tuesday.

Police officers have blocked the entrance to the Moscow Church of Scientology, located on Taganskaya Ulitsa in the city center and no one is allowed in or out, according to eyewitnesses.

Searches are believed to be connected with a major crackdown on Scientology in Russia and a criminal case launched against the church over “illegal business activity,” Interfax reported.

2017

June 2017: The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) conduct a raid on Scientology’s Moscow Headquarters.

The Russian Federal Security Service once again raided Scientology’s facilities in Moscow and St. Petersburg in 2017. This raid was a response to the embezzlement and fraud perpetrated by a Scientologists Ekaterina Zaborskikh and Maria Sidorova upon would-be homebuyers. The Daily Beast covered the story:

Authorities in Russia say a woman stole money given to her for dream homes and donated it to the Church of Scientology.

Ekaterina Zaborskikh allegedly stole 130 million rubles ($2 million) between 2012 and 2014 by selling Russians them apartments that were never built by her construction company, an indictment in St. Petersburg alleged last week, as reported by Komsomolskaya Pravda. Part of that money was funnelled to her church, prosecutors say.

Russian Legal Information Agency (RASPI): Scientologist Ekaterina Zaborskikh received 6.5 years in prison for her crime:

18:26 30/10/2017

ST. PETERSBURG, October 30 (RAPSI, Mikhail Telekhov) – The Oktyabrsky District Court of St. Petersburg on Monday sentenced Ekaterina Zaborskikh, who had embezzled over 130 million rubles (about $2 million) from real estate investors and transferred the money to the Church of Scientology Moscow, to 6.5 years in prison, the court’s representative told RAPSI.

The court also granted lawsuits filed by victims demanding 133 million rubles in total from the defendant.  The woman was also ordered to pay 600,000 rubles ($10,300) of court costs.

Moreover, another criminal case against Zaborskikh over alleged embezzlement of 33 million rubles (about $570,000) from real estate investors has been transferred from the Smolninsky District Court of St. Petersburg to the Oktyabrsky District Court for consideration because of jurisdiction.

According to investigators, Zaborskikh was a chairman of several consumer committees and housing cooperatives. Allegedly she was responsible for deceiving people into paying her money under the guise of selling apartments, houses and land plots around St. Petersburg and Leningrad Region while she had no ability to provide such real estate. Allegedly she stole over 130 million rubles from her clients between 2012 and 2014.

Zaborskikh allegedly used the money on her own volition by, among other things, transferring it to the religious organization called “The Church of Scientology Moscow”. According to investigators, she gave away money to the organization both in cash and through cashless transfer.

From a report of July 8, 2019 by the Russian Legal Information Agency (RASPI) we learn that Ekaterina Zaborskikh’s fellow Scientologist and co-conspirator was sentenced to six years in prison for her role in defrauding investors and stealing their money:

10:59 08/07/2019

ST. PETERSBURG, July 8 (RAPSI, Mikhail Telekhov) – Alleged Church of Scientology adherent and head of a consumer society Maria Sidorova has been sentenced to 6 years in jail for embezzling 155.5 million rubles (nearly $2.5 million) from shareholders of 9 housing associations, RAPSI has learnt from the United press service of St. Petersburg courts.

The Krasnogvargeysky District Court of St. Petersburg has partially granted civil claims against the defendant. Moreover, the court upheld seizure of her 4 apartments, a cottage, a land plot, a car and shares in land.

Victims in the case are disappointed with the sentence, they believe that Sidorova acted on the orders from the Church of Scientology and earned money for it.

However, Sidorova alleged financial links to the Church of Scientology were not been proven during the investigation. It was only revealed that the woman transferred the most part of stolen funds to third parties also known as adherents of the organization; but their membership is not officially confirmed, according to the courts’ press office.


Hungary 2017

Hungarian Police during the raid of Scientology’s Budapest Headquarters.

It is not just the Russians.

On October 22, 2017: The Daily Mail reported on the massive raid of Scientology made by Hungarian police:

Hungarian police carried out a search at a Church of Scientology centre in Budapest amid a probe into suspected misuse of personal information and ‘other crimes’.

More than 50 officers surrounded the church’s Budapest headquarters on one of the Hungarian capital’s busiest roads early on Wednesday.

Detectives from the National Investigation Bureau have listed the target as ‘unknown persons’ – a common designation when a specific suspect has not been identified.

For Hungary to send in more than 50 police officers to raid Scientology offices there indicates the seriousness and scope of the criminal investigation.

2018

From the Russian Legal Information Agency (RASPI):

the Church of Scientology of St. Petersburg leader Ivan Matsitsky

12:51 28/03/2018
ST. PETERSBURG, March 28 (RAPSI, Mikhail Telekhov) – Searches are conducted at the premises of the Church of Scientology of St. Petersburg, the press service of Federal Security Service’s (FSB) regional directorate reports Wednesday.

The raids are directed to identifying more items and documents confirming the criminality of the religious organization leaders’ actions, according to the statement.

Currently, the Church of Scientology of St. Petersburg leader Ivan Matsitsky and chief accountant of the religious group Sakhib Aliyev are in detention. The organization’s executive director Galina Shurinova, chief of the official matters department Anastasia Terentyeva and her assistance Constance Yesaulkova are under house arrest. They stand charged with illegal business, inciting hatred and enmity, violation of human dignity.

2019

2019: Russian Security Forces Breach a Heavily-Fortified Scientology Compound That Was Surrounded by Razor Wire.

Radio Free Europe, March 29, 2019
:

MOSCOW — The Federal Security Service (FSB) has raided several buildings in Russia belonging to the Church of Scientology in connection with a fraud investigation that authorities say involves the embezzlement of more than 800 million rubles ($12 million) by people affiliated with the U.S.-based religious group.

According to a statement by the Interior Ministry cited by TASS, the raids on March 28 were tied to a criminal probe launched in 2017 into a major case of fraud in the St. Petersburg region, involving 400 people cheated of their investments in a housing development.

The raids took place in St. Petersburg and at least two locations belonging to the church in the Moscow region and the Russian capital.


2020

Russian authorities place five Scientologists on trial for “illegal entrepreneurship, extremism, money laundering, and incitement of hatred.”

Radio Free Europe  reported on the arraignment on February 12, 2020:

SAINT PETERSBURG, August 18. / TASS /. The court began to consider on the merits a criminal case on organizing an extremist community, illegal business and money laundering against members of the Scientology Church of St. Petersburg association. As the joint press service of the city courts told reporters, the defendants did not admit their guilt…

Members of the Scientology Church of St. Petersburg association are accused of illegally conducting paid courses and programs without proper registration, the income from which is estimated at more than 276 million rubles, as well as organizing an extremist community and inciting hatred. In the spring of last year, it was reported that investigators of the FSB Directorate for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region opened a criminal case on the legalization of 17 million rubles out of 140 million obtained by criminal means against the leadership of the religious group Scientology Church of St. Petersburg.

Having been arraigned and the charges having been determined to have a foundation in Russian law, the criminal trial of the five Russian Scientologists has formally begun. From the TACC News Agency on August 18, 2020:

SAINT PETERSBURG, August 18. / TASS /. The court began to consider on the merits a criminal case on organizing an extremist community, illegal business and money laundering against members of the Scientology Church of St. Petersburg association. As the joint press service of the city courts told reporters, the defendants did not admit their guilt.

“At today’s court session, the indictment was announced. After that the defendants expressed their attitude towards him. What they are accused of, they do not understand. They do not admit their guilt,” the message says.

On the dock were the leader of the association Ivan Matsitsky, the deputy head of the security service Konstantsia Esaulkova, her boss Anastasia Terentyeva, the executive director Galina Shurinova, and the chief accountant Sahib Aliyev.

At the next session, the court will begin questioning witnesses. Many foreigners are expected, the press service added

BACKGROUND: Alleged Church of Scientology adherent gets 6 years for $2.5M embezzlement

 

http://rapsinews.com/judicial_news/20190708/301441387.html

 

Alleged Church of Scientology adherent and head of a consumer society Maria Sidorova has been sentenced to 6 years in jail for embezzling 155.5 million rubles (nearly $2.5 million) from shareholders of 9 housing associations, RAPSI has learnt from the United press service of St. Petersburg courts.

The Krasnogvargeysky District Court of St. Petersburg has partially granted civil claims against the defendant. Moreover, the court upheld seizure of her 4 apartments, a cottage, a land plot, a car and shares in land.

Victims in the case are disappointed with the sentence, they believe that Sidorova acted on the orders from the Church of Scientology and earned money for it.

However, Sidorova’s alleged financial links to the Church of Scientology were not been proven during the investigation. It was only revealed that the woman transferred the most part of stolen funds to third parties also known as adherents

of the organization; but their membership is not officially confirmed, according to the courts’ press office.

The court found that Sidorova’s relatives were co-founders of the consumer society Your House. According to investigators, they headed the company and were also creators and members of 9 housing associations in the Leningrad Region attracting housing equity holders’ funds. In total, they obtained 453.5 million rubles, 155.5 million of which they stole. Moreover, they acquired rights to 21 flats built on the investors’ money, the sentence reads.

There are more than 200 victims in the case.

Earlier, another woman Ekaterina Zaborskikh was sentenced to 6.5 and then to 5.5 years for embezzling over 33 million rubles ($510,000) and over 130 million rubles (about $2 million) respectively from real estate investors and transferring the money to the Church of Scientology Moscow. Collectively, she received an 8.5-year term in penal colony.

According to investigators, Zaborskikh was a chairman of several consumer committees and housing cooperatives. Allegedly she was responsible for deceiving people into paying her money under the guise of selling apartments, houses and land plots around St. Petersburg and Leningrad Region while she had no ability to provide such real estate.

Zaborskikh allegedly used the money on her own volition by, among other things, transferring it to the religious organization called “The Church of Scientology Moscow”. According to investigators, she gave away money to the organization both in cash and through cashless transfer.

Dianetics and Scientology are a set of religious and philosophical ideas and practices that were put forth by L. Ron Hubbard in the US in the early 1950s.

The scientific community never recognized it as science.

A resolution passed in 1996 by the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, classified the Church of Scientology as a destructive religious organization.

The Moscow Regional Court ruled in 2012 that some of Hubbard’s books be included on the Federal List of Extremist Literature and prohibited from distribution in Russia.