Daghestani ex-prime minister and his deputy found guilty of embezzlement of $640,000 of state funds

31 October 2019
Abdusamad Hamidov (left) and his deputy Rayudin Yusufov (right) in court. Photo: Tass.

A Moscow court has sentenced the former chairman of Daghestan’s government Abdusamad Gamidov and his deputy Rayudin Yusufov to 6.5 and 5.5 years of imprisonment, respectively. On 28 October, the pair were found guilty of embezzling ₽41 million ($640,000) of state funds, which they were ordered to repay. 

Gamidov and Yusufov were accused of embezzling funds allocated for the reconstruction of a building intended for the temporary detention of foreign citizens in Makhachkala, the Daghestani capital. 

According to prosecutors, Gamidov and Yusufov authorised the transfer of public funds to a company they controlled. 

The court also found that Gamidov was not the organiser of a group involved in the theft of budgetary funds. The court stated that the initiator was a ‘different person’, ‘the materials in respect to whom are set aside in a separate proceeding’.

According to investigators, the building was reconstructed by workers at the request of Shamil Kadiyev, the former head of the Daghestani state procurement office, at his own expense. 

Following this, they said, a tender competition was held to conduct the work which the company controlled by Gamidov and Yusifov won.

Kadiyev, according to prosecutors, is the main witness in the case, as well as one of the group’s leaders. He is currently on an international wanted list.

‘Big Daghestan case’

Gamidov and Yusufov are the primary defendants in the so-called ‘Big Daghestan case’ in which four high-ranking officials have been charged with large-scale embezzlement of funds.

Gamidov, his two deputies, Yusufov and Shamil Isayev, as well as the ex-Minister of Education of Daghestan, Shakhabas Shakhov, were detained and brought to Moscow in February 2018. Federal investigators have accused them of organised crime, fraud, and embezzlement of budget funds totalling over ₽100 million ($1.5 million), as well as bribery. 

According to investigators, Shakhov signed off on documents legitimising the purchase of a building for a kindergarten by the government of Daghestan. Gamidov issued an order for the kindergarten in Khalimbekaul to be included on the list of projects to be funded by the federal and Daghestani governments in 2014, investigators said.

The investigation stated that the participants of the ring earmarked ₽31.8 million ($500,000) for the purchase of a kindergarten, in the knowledge that the price of the endeavour should have been approximately ₽12 million ($185,000).

According to investigators, Isayev ensured that a campsite, managed through a director he appointed, would be included in Daghestan’s 2014 targeted investment programme. This was done in order to embezzle public funds earmarked for engineering infrastructure, investigators allege.

The investigation claims that estimates for the price of the work were deliberately inflated costing the state ₽35 million ($550,000).

Gamidov was also found to have signed decrees of the Daghestani government to provide state guarantees for a total sum of ₽1.3 billion ($20 million) to the Dagagrokompleks agricultural company, which subsequently did not fulfil its obligations to creditors.

‘There can be no waste and damage’

Gamidov’s lawyer Eduard Isetsky told OC Media that the court’s verdict will be appealed since the defence considers the charges groundless and the guilty parties still claim innocence.

‘The temporary centre [for the temporary detention of foreigners] was built and is functioning, which means there was no waste and damage,’ Isetsky said.

A lawyer for the Daghestani state procurement agency initially said that their office had no claims against Gamidov and Yusufov.

But according to Isetsky, Sergey Bochkaryov, the prosecutor who is now leading the case, forced the agency to replace their lawyer.

The new lawyer then recognised all the prosecutors’ claims in court, Isetsky said.

Isetsky noted that several more instances of embezzlement of budget funds were presented to Gamidov, but no measures have yet been taken.

Isetsky also added that as compensation for the damage, property worth around ₽68 million ($1.1 million) was confiscated from Gamidov.

A lawyer obstructing justice

Yusufov’s lawyer Dagir Khasavov was detained on 17 September during a regular hearing at the Lefortovo District Court of Moscow. He is being held in Lefortovo detention centre, charged with witness intimidation and obstruction of justice. Yusufov’s son, Vadim Yusufov, was detained under the same charges.

Isetsky told OC Media that according to investigators, Khasavov and Vadim Yusufov put pressured a witness in the case of Gamidov and Rayudin Yusufov. He also said that, most likely, Yusufov’s son made a deal with the prosecution and testified against Khasavov in exchange for a commuted sentence.

‘An accusation against Khasavov is being built on two audio files transferred to the phone of witness Arsen Fatullayev. In one of them, the lawyer addresses his client’s son Vadim Yusufov and asks him to warn Fatullayev, via an acquaintance they have in common, not to give ‘false testimonies’ against his countrymen’, Kommersant reported.

According to Kommersant, Khasavov’s lawyer believes that these audio recordings contain nothing illegal.

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