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Record bribery case brought to Russian court

Two Moscow investigators have been charged with extorting an equivalent of $181 million in cryptocurrency from suspects

A Moscow region court is to hear a case involving the biggest bribe in Russia’s modern history, the judicial authority announced on its website on Thursday. The suspects are officers with the Russian Investigative Committee’s Moscow district office.

According to the court documents, one of the suspects – major Marat Tambiev – was soliciting a bribe from suspects in a 2022 cybercrime case. At that time, the Russian law enforcement authorities were cracking down on the Russian branch of an international cybercrime syndicate known as the Infraud Organization.

The group was involved in trafficking and unauthorized use of credit card data, personal credit card and online banking information theft and illegal trade of that data. The actions of the four syndicate members detained in Russia in 2022 inflicted damage worth 1 billion rubles ($11.4 million), according to the authorities.

Tambiev, who was heading his district office at that time, demanded the hackers hand him over 2,718 bitcoins. That sum is equivalent to roughly $181 million in current bitcoin prices. According to the Russian media, the sum is the biggest known bribe ever received in Russia’s modern history.

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Another suspect in the bribery case – an investigator identified as Kristina Lyakhovenko – illegally took several electronic data storage devices used by the hackers and seized by the law enforcement officials and handed them over to Tambiev to transfer the bitcoins stored on them to his crypto-wallets.

In return, the suspects had promised not to confiscate the rest of the hackers’ cryptocurrency assets worth 14 billion rubles ($159.6 million), which should have been forfeited in favor of the government, according to the Russian media.

The cybercrime syndicate members, who were all eventually sentenced to between two and a half and three years behind bars but only in the form of suspended sentences, reported the bribe to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).

Tambiev was then arrested in March 2022. Both he and Lyakhovenko denied their guilt.

The Infraud Organization was founded in 2010 by a Ukrainian national, Svyatoslav Bondarenko. The US Justice Department stated in 2017 that the organization had over 10,000 registered members all over the world and was the “largest cyber fraud enterprise” prosecuted by the US authorities.

In 2018, the US indicted 36 suspected members of the organization for their alleged roles in the group’s “racketeering conspiracy.” According to the Justice Department, the group’s criminal activities resulted in losses worth $530 million.

June 14, 2024 at 03:57AM

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