One of Russia’s largest mafias operated out of Spain for more than a decade with help from some of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s cronies, prosecutors in Madrid said.
A 488-page complaint to the Central Court obtained by Bloomberg News alleged direct links between Moscow officials and the St. Petersburg-based crime organization Tambrov, which allegedly moved into Spain in 1996 to launder profits from its criminal activities.
The complaint was the culmination of a decade-long probe into the spread of Russian organized crime under Putin’s rule. Prosecutors Juan Carrau and Jose Grinda have formally requested the court to charge 27 people with money laundering, fraud and other crimes.
The document draws links between Gennady Petrov, the alleged leader of the criminal enterprise, and some of Putin’s oldest allies such as Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak and Viktor Zubkov, the chairman of gas exporter Gazprom.
The Russian president himself is mentioned three times in the complaint. But Vladislav Reznik is the only Russian official facing possible charges, according to Bloomberg News.
Reznik, a member of Putin’s ruling United Russia party and the deputy head of the State Duma finance committee, allegedly helped Petrov get his associates appointed to key positions in Moscow in return for assets in Spain.
Prosecutors are looking to seize a property the Russian lawmaker apparently owns on the resort island of Majorca. However, Reznik said his relationship with Petrov is “purely social” and would welcome a trial in Spain as an opportunity to clear his name, Bloomberg News reported.
Prosecutors said Petrov, a Russian businessman with Spanish residency, used his network of political and judicial contacts in Moscow to help him carry out criminal dealings from Spain, including murder, drug smuggling, arms trafficking, fraud and extortion.
An attorney for Petrov, Roberto Mazorriaga, told Bloomberg News that prosecutors have not yet provided any evidence to support their accusations against the alleged mafia boss.
“The Petrov probe could change the narrative of Putin in the West — from being a Stalinist tyrant defending the interest of his country to being a product of gangster Petersburg who united authorities with organized crime,” Stanislav Belkovsky, a Kremlin adviser during Putin’s first term who consults at the Institute for National Strategy in Moscow, told Bloomberg News Monday.