An MP in Daghestan’s parliament was arrested on Wednesday night accused of creating a vast criminal network issuing fake disability certificates in exchange for bribes. Investigators said Magomed Makhachev, who headed the Main Bureau of Medical and Social Expertise in Daghestan was responsible for a scheme costing the state at least ₽24 million ($380,000).
According to AiF-Dagestan, Makhachev was detained by Federal Security Service (FSB) agents and police officers in the Chechen capital Grozny as he attempted to board a flight to Dubai.
Makhachev had been in hiding since being placed on an international wanted list on 31 May, when a criminal case was opened against him and several other members of the Bureau, as well as three local residents.
Investigators said that at least 300 people had been issued fake disability documents costing the Pension Fund of Russia ₽24 million ($380,000) in wrongly issued social benefits. Members of the Investigative Committee of Daghestan told OC Media that Makhachev had been indicted in absentia of committing these crimes and a preventive measure in the form of detention was chosen for him.
On Monday, Makhachev’s younger brother Ashik, who headed one of the Medical Bureau’s divisions, was transferred from house arrest to a detention facility. According to the police he planned to flee to Ukraine. Magomed’s son, Gasan, who was a lawyer for the Bureau and a member of the Makhachkala City Council was also arrested the same day, along with several other suspects.
On Tuesday, investigators reported that three more criminal cases had been opened against two senior members of the Medical Bureau as well as four other employees. Investigators assumes that the number of suspects may exceed 200.
The charges so far range from creating a criminal organisation with the use of an official position, participation in a criminal organisation, bribe taking by an organised group, forgery, and fraud in an especially large amount.
Makhachev had headed the Main Bureau of Medical and Social Expertise in Daghestan since 2013, after being appointed by the new head of the republic Ramazan Abdulatipov. According to some sources Makhachev is a relative Abdulatipov, and both originate from Daghestan’s Tlyaratinskiy District. Since stepping down unexpectedly in September 2017, a number of former political allies of Abdulatipov have been arrested.
In the four years Makhachev headed the Medical Bureau, the number local branches in Daghestan grew from 25 to 41.
Police said that Makhachev had acquired a vast fortune, including a house in Slovenia, a clinic in Germany, cottages, banquet halls and shopping centres in Makhachkala, mansions in Moscow and Stavropol, a palace in his ancestral village, as well as a fleet of luxury vehicles.
A criminal organisation
Investigators said that the criminal organisation headed by Makhachev consisted of groups in subordinate offices in most cities and districts of Daghestan. They said senior members of these offices were appointed to issue the disability documents for both healthy people and those with genuine health problems in exchange for cash bribes.
This, according to the investigation, was accompanied by official forgery with the introduction of deliberately false information to official documents.
Heads of the subordinated bureaus, according to the investigators, recruited their direct subordinates, including medical experts, registrars, nurses and other employees of the units they led, as well as civilians and medical workers into the criminal organisation.
According to the investigation, one of the accused, the director of the Bureau №37 in the city of Kaspiysk, received bribes from two local women in 2016–2017 for fictitious certificates of disability for their children, and the employees of bureau №25 in the city in Kizlyar issued more than 300 fictitious certificates. Social benefits are issued to those with disability certificates by the Pension Fund.
Daghestaan’s Prosecutor's Office said they will create a special commission to recheck all holders of disability certificates in the republic. According to the republic’s Ministry of Health, there are 300,000 people with disabilities in Daghestan. Only four branches of the Medical and Social Expertise in Daghestan have so far been inspected by the investigation.