RUSSIA: CONMAN DMITRY ASTAFIEV MADE A FORTUNE DEFRAUDING INVESTORS + PARTNERS, arrested for large scale swindling
Billionaire (in rubles) Dmitry Astafiev
Investigators of the General Administration for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of the Russian Federation charged the General Director of LenSpetsStroy with swindling on an especially large scale. According to preliminary estimations, the billionaire has appropriated some 500 million rubles ($7.3 million). Sources report that the investigation is currently examining his close circle, including a former federal judge convicted for swindling.
Dmitry Astafiev has been charged under part 4 of Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Following a motion brought by the investigation, he has been remanded in custody and escorted to the Pretrial Detention Facility № 4 despite protests of his lawyers. In fact, his arrest wasn’t a surprise for anybody. For several years already, construction co-investors of Leningradskaya Perspektiva (Leningrad Perspective) Residential Complex are struggling for their apartments. And finally, a precedent has been established: the billionaire was remanded in custody for swindling with their money, not for any other offenses.
According to the official version, the businessman, “has appropriated, jointly with unidentified persons, under the pretext of construction of residential apartment buildings in the Vsevolozhsky district, Leningrad region, monetary funds of people who had signed with him construction co-funding agreements, thus, failing to fulfil obligations undertaken under these agreements”.
LenSpetsStroy is the contractor building Leningradskaya Perspektiva Residential Complex in Murino. In total, the company has raised over 2.5 billion rubles ($36.7 million) for this construction project. The residential complex was supposed to be commissioned two years ago. The company currently owes 800 apartments to construction co-investors.
It must be noted that the businessman has been experiencing problems for a while. His conflicts – not only with co-investors, but with business partners as well – are ongoing for several years already. Dmitry Astafiev never fulfills his obligations. LenSpetsStroy Limited Liability Company has a conflict and scandalous reputation among other developers, while Dmitry Astafiev was accused of dishonesty by the business community.
Detained billionaire Dmitry Astafiev
The situation with construction co-investors is much worse. The company has issues not only with above-mentioned Leningradskaya Perspektiva Residential Complex – but also with Medny Vsadnik(Bronze Horseman), Leningradskaya Simfonia (Leningrad Symphony), and Leningradskie Vechera(Leningrad Evenings) residential complexes. Residents of commissioned buildings protested against the low quality of apartments and lack of improvement on surrounding grounds. Co-investors of new projects started terminating their agreements and demanding money back. St. Petersburg courts have already examined plenty of such lawsuits.
Dmitry Astafiev had a universal solution for all problems – surrounding himself with a sufficient number of security guards and inventing thousands of reasons to postpone the commissioning of the buildings. Property owners protesting against the low quality of their units were intimidated and not provided with the keys and documents required to register the ownership right. This lawlessness had continued for a few years – since 2014 and until 2018.
Mikhail Moskvin, Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Leningrad Region
Finally, even the Government of the Leningrad Region became outraged. Mikhail Moskvin, Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Leningrad Region, has publicly commented the situation as follows: “The developer performs episodic works at the construction site; the schedule is not adhered to”.
In fact, the above situation is not surprising – especially taking the personalities working with the billionaire in the recent years. This primarily refers to former federal judge Nadezhda Dumshenkova convicted in 2014 by the St. Petersburg City Court for fraud with apartments of deceased people. Being a Federal Judge of the Nevsky District, Dumshenkova has appropriated a two-room apartment of a deceased St. Petersburg resident and then sold it for $44.2 thousand. The court found her guilty – but by the time of sentencing, the statute of limitations has already expired. This happened because of the stance taken by the Qualification Board of the Supreme Court that had prohibited the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR) from the criminal prosecution of Dumshenkova for a long time. In addition, the former judge had protracted the court hearings by all means.
Her accomplices, including Mr. Klyushkin, ex-Deputy Head of the Police Division № 32 of the MIA Administration for the Nevsky District of St. Petersburg, have been convicted back in 2007 and sentenced to real prison terms. Dumshenkova was unofficially called the leader of a gang of ‘black realtors’. The female judge, being fully aware of this, had dragged heels to avoid punishment. Her guilt was proven only thanks to the brilliant work of State Prosecutor Aleksander Melnikov.
During the hearings, the ex-judge had behaved brazenly, attempted to preside at her own trial, and demanded to remove journalists and public from the courtroom.
This was understandable – back in 2014, Dumshenkova was the Executive Director of LenSpetsStroy, and hoodwinked construction co-investors had attended her trial.
Furthermore, the co-investors considered Nadezhda Dumshenkova the main cause of their problems. She had shielded General Director Dmitry Astafiev from any troubles – for instance, personally attended meetings with residents accompanies by muscular security guards. The most persistent co-investors demanding their documents were beaten in the office of LenSpetsStroy located on Nevsky avenue. This is exactly what has happened in 2015 with Anna Prakht, Manager of Bolshaya Kukhnya (Big Kitchen) Restaurant. After visiting the company’s office, she had to address a first-aid station and police. The brawl has occurred over a video recorded by Anna Prakht on her smartphone. The video shows the crumpled acceptance certificate for her apartment found by Prakht in a garbage bin. After noticing that Prakht was filming this, Dumshenkova has approached her and attacked with fists.
The incident has hit the headlines. Novaya Gazeta newspaper even received comments from Astafiev and his associate Dumshenkova claiming that Prakht was lying. In fact, this entire story was about a penalty in the amount of 470 thousand rubles ($6.9 thousand) added by Prakht to the acceptance certificate that LenSpetsStroy was unwilling to sign.
By that time, arbitration courts of St. Petersburg were examining several similar lawsuits totaling over 10 million rubles ($147 thousand). Even former colleagues of Dumshenkova in the Nevsky District Court don’t speak well of her. Dumshenkova reportedly was very busy during the working hours – she ‘buried’ some criminal cases in her strongbox, examined other cases for years, etc. Concurrently, she wore deluxe clothes, flaunted lots of gold jewelry, and had close ties with the local criminal investigation department.
Today, the former servant of Themis is not employed with LenSpetsStroy anymore. Apparently, she opted to resign after becoming a ‘media personality’. According to sources, Dumshenkova is currently a legal advisor at Kontinent-4 (Continent-4) Management Company administering Zvesdny (Stellar) Residential Complex.
The initiative group of hoodwinked co-investors is rejoicing their victory over Dmitry Astafiev – however, there is a spoon of tar in a barrel of honey. The criminal case against him is about to be transferred to the Investigations Directorate for the Leningrad Region of the ICR and Prosecutor’s Office of the Leningrad Region. According to the co-investors, at a session held to determine pretrial restrictions for the businessman, the Prosecutor’s Office was against his detention and supported the stance of the defense insisting on home arrest.
In 2001–2004, Dmitry Astafiev was in charge of an expert workgroup established to build a Coordination Council under the auspices of the Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Northwestern Federal District. In 2012, was appointed an aide to Frants Klintsevich, Deputy Chairman of the Defense Committee of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, and aide to Vadim Gustov, Deputy Chairman of the Legislative Assembly of the Leningrad Region. In 2006, established LenSpetsStroy construction company. Astafiev occupies the 128th position in the billionaires’ rating of St. Petersburg. His personal wealth is currently estimated at 3 billion rubles ($44.1 million).
The victims are concerned that defense attorneys may ultimately change the pretrial restrictions for Astafiev, thus, enabling the businessman either to abscond or cover the traces. “He has extensive connections and high-ranked relatives,” – co-investors say. This is true – the billionaire’s biography is pretty controversial.
Father and son Astafiev
His father – Oleg Astafiev – is a highly respected figure among the developers: a representative of the Leningrad nomenclature of the Soviet period. Astafiev senior is a Laureate of the Award of the Council of Ministers of the USSR; he was the leading specialist of the Leningrad region in precast reinforced concrete production. All industrial facilities in Leningrad have been built using his constructions, including military factories, poultry plants, and even the Leningrad Nuclear Station. All its three reactors are the work of the team led by Oleg Astafiev. In addition, in the 1990s, the billionaire’s father was the Chairman of the Commission for Economic Reform, Finance, and Prices of the Council of Deputies of the Leningrad Region. Therefore, the hoodwinked co-investors have strong reasons to be concerned about the possible release of Astafiev junior. Another important question is: would the investigation pay attention to ex-judge Dumshenkova, a loyal associate and advocate of Dmitry Astafiev’s interests? After all, she is pretty skillful in swindling.
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