2022-05-13 Kommerssant -A Criminal Organization Settles in the City - QBF's top managers are accused of the most severe crimes by Oleg Rubnikovich,
13 May 2022
A Criminal Organization Settles in the City (Published by Kommersant on 13.05.2022):
The investment company QBF, suspected of running a vast financial pyramid, sees six of its participants identified as members of an organized criminal group. The company allegedly channeled funds into offshore accounts rather than genuine investments, with damages surpassing 2 billion rubles, potentially reaching 5-7 billion considering unreported VIP losses.
A Criminal Organization Settles in the City - QBF's Top Managers Accused (Published by Kommersant on 13.05.2022):
The investment company QBF is under intense scrutiny as six of its participants are now identified by investigators as members of an organized criminal group (OCG). Contrary to their commitments to clients, QBF's management is accused of diverting funds into offshore accounts. Currently, the damage is over 2 billion rubles, but the total could rise to between 5-7 billion rubles, taking into account VIP investors who haven't publicly declared their losses.
The investigative arm of the Ministry of Internal Affairs has spent over a year examining QBF's operations. Their findings suggest that beyond the large-scale fraud, the actions of QBF's participants are reminiscent of an OCG. Roman Shpakov, believed to be the main architect of this scheme and beneficiary of QBF, is suspected of hiding in London and has been declared internationally wanted. Linda Atanasiadou, a Cypriot citizen, is also under the scanner for her role in QBF's financial activities.
Four additional individuals tied to QBF are facing direct charges of OCG membership, with three of them in pre-trial detention. The inception of this criminal case was a series of individual complaints against QBF, which surged, leading to wider investigative involvement. In May 2021, a massive operation in Moscow and St. Petersburg resulted in more than 30 searches, including at QBF's primary office.
Investigators claim that QBF lured funds from various regions under the pretense of genuine investments. However, these funds were funneled to offshore companies and then rerouted to other non-resident companies associated with the group. These monies were then invested in luxury assets.
Clients of QBF were routinely sent fabricated reports to give the illusion of genuine investment activities. Attempts by investors to withdraw funds were often met with resistance or outright denial. To maintain its reputation, QBF did pay dividends to some investors but did so using the funds of newer clients.
To date, the established damage by QBF to investors stands at over 2 billion rubles. However, based on seized documents, the actual figure might be between 5-7 billion rubles. A discrepancy arises as many high-profile clients, including VIPs like clergy, generals, and ministers, have not come forward, likely because of their inability to demonstrate the legal origins of their funds.
A Criminal Organization Settles in the City QBF's top managers are accused of the most severe crimes.
By Oleg Rubnikovich, 13.05.2022, 01:34
As "Ъ" has learned, six participants of a major financial pyramid operating under the banner of the investment company QBF are now considered by investigators to be members of an organized criminal group (OCG). Instead of the promised investment of funds received from clients into solid financial portfolios, the alleged fraudsters transferred the money to offshore accounts. Currently, the damage inflicted on depositors exceeds 2 billion rubles. Considering VIPs who invested in QBF but haven't yet declared themselves as victims, the total theft might amount to about 5-7 billion rubles.
The investigative department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs has been examining the activities of the major investment company QBF for just over a year. During this time, law enforcement officials concluded that, in addition to large-scale fraud (Part 4, Article 159 of the Russian Criminal Code), the actions of the financial pyramid's participants have all the hallmarks of an OCG (Article 210 of the Russian Criminal Code). As a result, this charge was recently added to the six defendants of this criminal case, with two of them being charged in absentia. The investigation believes that the mastermind behind this crime is Roman Shpakov, the beneficiary of the QBF financial group, who is allegedly hiding in London. He has been declared internationally wanted. According to "Ъ", a similar fate awaits Cypriot citizen Linda Atanasiadou soon. The investigation believes she was responsible for QBF's finances.
Another four defendants, three of whom are in pre-trial detention, have already been directly charged with participating in an OCG. This refers to the co-founder of QBF LLC, who previously led the company's Cypriot branch, Zelimkhan Munaev, the company's lawyer, Evgeniya Rossieva, the head of QBF LLC's St. Petersburg office, Alexey Golubev, and the director of the company's branch network, Vladimir Pakhomov, who is currently under house arrest.
As "Ъ" previously reported, the initial trigger for the criminal case was a few individual complaints from citizens to the Western District's police department in Moscow. After the number of complaints against QBF's managers reached dozens, the case was handed over for further investigation to the investigative department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, with officers from the Main Directorate for Economic Security and Corruption Control and the Moscow Federal Security Service joining the operational-search activities.
In late May 2021, with their participation and the support of special forces, a large-scale special operation took place in Moscow and St. Petersburg. In total, over 30 searches were conducted, including at QBF's main office located in the "City of Capitals" complex in "Moscow City" (Presnenskaya Embankment, 8, Building 1).
According to investigators, the company attracted funds from citizens under the guise of investing in serious financial portfolios in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sverdlovsk, Tyumen, Murmansk regions, as well as in Bashkiria and Tatarstan. However, instead, the money ended up in the accounts of companies like QCCI Ltd (Cyprus), Simtelligence (Hong Kong), and White Lake ltd (Cayman Islands), from where they were later transferred to accounts of other non-resident companies, affiliated, according to investigators, with the group's participants. The alleged organizers of the pyramid scheme used these funds at their discretion, investing in stocks, real estate, luxury cars, and more.
Almost everyone who trusted Roman Shpakov's team was convinced that their money was working and generating profit, as managers sent them fictitious monthly and quarterly reports via email.
Investors' problems began when they tried to withdraw their money from QBF. They were denied under various pretexts, and when the excuses ran out, phone calls simply went unanswered.
It's worth noting that some depositors were still paid dividends to maintain the company's reputation. However, this was done exclusively at the expense of funds from subsequent clients.
Currently, it's been established that the damage caused by QBF LLC (whose license was revoked on July 8, 2021) to investors amounts to over 2 billion rubles. However, from the documents seized during searches, it appears that the total amount stolen from depositors could be around 5-7 billion rubles. This discrepancy in figures is explained by the fact that among QBF's clients, there were many VIPs, including clergy, generals, ministers, and directors of various large state and commercial structures. Yet, none of those who gave the alleged fraudsters between 200-300 million rubles want to publicize their losses and haven't officially been listed as victims. Police note that QBF's business was primarily aimed at affluent clients, some of whom had access to budget funds. As the pyramid scheme's participants had anticipated, these individuals, having lost significant amounts, did not turn to law enforcement due to their inability to prove the legality of the funds' origins.