As if the Bidens’ case wasn’t enough already, another major international scandal involving the US governmental agencies might be just around the corner. A week ago, the regional court in Russian Samara began hearing the appeal filed by five large-scale fraud convicts, including one US national. Majority shareholders of the Russian ammonia producer Togliattiazot Vladimir and Sergey Makhlai, ToAZ ex-CEO Evgeny Korolev along with their Swiss partners Andreas Zivy and Beat Ruprecht were found guilty by a district court in Togliatti and given 8.5-9 years of jail time in absentia. The defendants were also ordered to pay a total of about $1.4 billion in damages to the plant itself and its minority shareholders.
The Makhlais and their Swiss counterparts are willing to go any lengths to reverse the verdict and avoid paying a hefty sum in damages. But since the prosecution had a rather solid case in the original fraud trial not much is left for them apart from deliberate dilatory tactics. However, walking away scot-free is not their only motive. There certainly must be more to this case than meets the eye.
Some other powerful parties might be just as interested in reversing the verdict. US citizen Anthony V. Raftopol, Sergey Makhlai’s supervisor, arrived to the Samara Regional Court. He is already familiar to those who followed the original hearing as a representative of an offshore Cypriot entity Florenta Management Ltd. which owns a large stake in JSC Transammiak pipeline, ToAZ’s key means of export. The investigators believed the pipe was instrumental in misappropriating the ToAZ product.
Raftopol’s background and demeanor clearly indicates the scope of his activities, hinting at US intelligence employment. He is fluent in five languages and unwilling to state his home address more precisely than “somewhere in Dubai.” His track record includes working for oil companies of Iraq, Iran, Lybia and Syria. Moreover, his tenures with the said companies strangely coincides with the periods of war in these countries.
On October 18, Raftopol in court stuck to the dilatory tactics as well. He tried to make a motion right in the middle of the judge’s opening statement. His motion was temporarily denied. He then motioned to be given a copy of case papers only to be denied again, since the papers had already been handed over to him earlier.
Since Sergey Makhlai (aka Serge Makligh, George Mack) is under FBI supervision in the US (Makhlai is actively funneling money to a Bahamas venture fund set up by FBI retirees, in other words, paying his “protection money”) there is a good reason to believe he is recruited by them. Such government agencies have a reason to closely monitor the ToAZ trial in Russia: Sergey, or just “Serge” to his American patrons, most likely pays handsomely to FBI officials watching his back. Look no further than one Michael Spiritus with a plum job of CFO at Ameropa AG, the parent company of Nitrochem Distribution AG, whom ToAZ is bound to have as its sole trader by an astonishingly one-sided contract. All parties involved in this collusion sure don’t want the information on Makhlai’s payouts to come to light. Sergey’s American friends won’t appreciate the scrutiny that will follow.
No one in the US intelligence community wants another “Bidens case” at their hand. Their corruption would be exposed and the endless flow of dirty money from ToAZ would also run dry. And they have been dependent on this source for years.
But there’s no doubt that just like with other major scandals the corrupt dealings of Anthony Raftopol, Michael Spiritus, ex-FBI operatives and Sergey Makhlai will be made public eventually and it won’t be a picnic for them. Anti-corruption laws are harsh in Russia just as they are in the US for rank and file operatives and senior officers alike. Exposing this corruption ring will probably lead to another international scandal, which spy agencies really wouldn’t like.
So the likes of Raftopol should keep in mind that the obstruction of justice and aiding international crime rings may eventually cost him dearly, no matter how lucrative it may have seemed initially