Antiqued blackmail in Langley's interiors

The well-known antiquarian schemer Alexander Khochinskiy started another badly smelling combination. The head of Magriko agrarian holding Oleg Muzyrya became the victim of his doubtful activity this time. The occasion for this operation, which could be defined as “blackmail”, were two old Cyprus icons. Swiss police arrested them while Khochinskiy was trying to take icons across the border of Swiss. As it turned out, these icons, belong Khochinskiy, were in the international wanted list as stolen from the Church of Agios Iakovos (Trikomo, Northen Cyprus) during conflict between Greek and Turkish in 1974.

Peculiar predilection - buying stolen things

Peculiar “historical” predilection of Khochinskiy for buying stolen antiques is long ago known: for this, as well as for complicity in the robbery and assaults on the collectors of antiques, in 1986 he was sentenced to imprisonment for 9 years by the Soviet justice. The City court of Leningrad’s verdict №2-5/86, 01/17/1986 says that Khochinskiy did not hesitate to buy diamonds of robbed Leningrad’s pensioners, old paintings belonged to Soviet Jews going abroad, for a song. The icons and silver church plate of the Alexander Nevsky lavra robbed by his accomplices were bought by weight.

In the 1980's investigators could not prove that he masterminded the crimes, but he was accused of buying stolen goods, and he went at large in 1990’s. However, the Soviet penitentiary system, probably, did not help Khochinskiy to get back on the track, but on the contrary, having passed through their ideological crucible, he became a world-class antiquarian schemer. Once the borders were opened, then former soviet criminal rushed to develop open spaces of the antique market in Europe and the USA. Then, in the early to mid-1990’s the export of Russian antique values to west was extremely high, and in civilized countries many wealthy Russian settled, those who were interested in enriching of their collections. There were also Khochinskiy’s accomplices serving the interests of new Russian immigrants: some were shuttle traders, others were smuggling, robbing European antique collectors.

Khochinskiy was among the right people, he was the best to wriggle into favors of a prospective buyer, the seller or the victim. Alexander was able to hypnotize, to lie convincingly and to improvise, inventing combinations on the run.

People trusted him. In particular, because he always seemed to be the owner of the largest in Russia art gallery "Bohema", nearest to the Russian White house. "Bohema" legally belonged to his wife Tatjana Khochinskiy (Kamyshnikova), but indeed Alexander’s shop has two partners. As it assumed, the role of senior belongs to the chief shadow curator of criminal antique market in Russia, chairmen of the board of directors JSCB “Russobank” Mark Vainshtein (article about him will be published later), as an associate, Khochinskiy uses fairly well-known antique expert Andrey Gilodo - Head of the Department of the Russian State Museum of Decorative-Applied Arts, Moscow.

Gilido and Khochinskiy are birds of a feather. Both are the representatives of the prosperous Jews nation, both have a lot of friends, relatives living in Israel and the United States. Gilodo used to be a court counselor at the USA Embassy, at the ambassador's wife Lisa Vershbow, collecting vintage jewelry and antiques. He also helped disgraced mayor of Moscow Yury Luzhkov with the book "The Art we shouldn’t lose! Amateur and folks handicraft of Russia: gold ages, decadence and prebirth’s prospect" which was published in autumn 2009.

In general, Andrey Gilodo, like Alexander Khochinskiy, has the right people on the mayor's office, Kremlin and both White Houses – in Moscow and in Washington, D.C. They say, just like Khochinskiy, he was observed to sell the imitated Faberge. Andrey Gilodo, as at the same time suspect, was implicated in a scandal with fake examinations of the silver samovars, supposedly produced in the workshops of the Faberge and other famous masters of the past. Authenticity conclusions were given by Gilodo and Smorodinova. In fact, the samovars turned out to be fakes, specially made and aged in Israel.

Legal assistance to Khochinskiy is rendered by his long-time friend with a similar, but much more odious reputation, Alexander Dobrovinsky, head of firm of attorneys "Dobrovinsky and Partners".

Cheating on trust

How this scam worked with Moscow owners of antiquities is shown in the history of Khochinskiy’s “work” on Karl Briullov’s painting "А Turkish girl", offered to Alexander by Moscow art collector Nikolaj Semenov. One-time soloist of brother Semenov’s duet , Nikolaj now is the head of «Ancient love song” theater.

Intending to buy premises for his Theater in February 2006 Semenov, decided to sell his painting for $500000. He decided to do it through an intermediary, and unfortunately the collector’s choice was "Bohema". However, bringing the picture to the salon, neither money, nor painting did Semenov receive so far.

Using the confidence of an elderly man, having expert's report of the State Tretyakov Gallery and the Grabar Center given by Semenov Khochinskiy sold the "girl" to a Western collector. At first he avoided Semenov, then, six months later he offered to take the copy of the painting. According to Semenov, Alexander also ordered a report of the State Russian museum (Saint-Petersburg) experts for this copy. Surely experts said it’s not an original masterpiece. As Semenov refused to take replica, Khochinskiy decided to punish the old man: in 2008 Khochinskiy sold a copy at the auction “Sovkom”, but he said to the Semenov, that the proceeds (about $3000) were not enough to cover the costs of storing in “Bohema” art gallery. In connection with this Khochinskiy demanded the deceived Nikolaj to compensate the remainder, threatening otherwise with the criminal prosecution.

However, Alexander failed to break down the 74-year-old: people of the old school cannot be blackmailed, so the musician continues his struggle to return the gone picture. Hoping that the police forced by the president Dmitry Medvedev would finally begin to catch the international swindlers and imprison them.

To pay taxes is unnecessary

His minor "pranks" in Russia is just nothing compared to his international frauds and business based on selling Russian antiquity, which is sold for hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars at the auctions in Europe.

In 2000’s, Alexander Khochinskiy has launched a powerful international business, he took part in all major auctions in Europe, USA and Canada. He received two Russian passports - a usual one and a diplomatic one, European business visas and then became the U.S. resident, by getting “green card”. There is information, that in 2009 Khochinskiy bought an apartment in Ney York for two and a half million dollars (70 Little West Street, Apt. 29D, NewYork, NY, 10004-7439, USA; Phone No in USA: +1 (646) 657-05-46). And since April 2009, Alexander does not appear in Russia, staying in New York, Berlin, Geneva and Nice.

According to the sources in Russian investigating bodies, despite of multimillion incomes, Khochinskiy remains greedy person. In Russia, most of Khochinskiy’s assets legally belong to his wife, Tatjana Khochinskiy, who also has a “green card”. The assets include the apartment in Lechebnaya Street in Moscow, cottage and a part of land in a prestigious district near Moscow (Novaja street, Shulgino vil., Odintsovo). But, as it seems to us, the objective investigation has to check up the information, that over the last ten years none of the family of these roguish Russian mafia-millionaires paid income taxes from the sale of antiques (and even more so, from buying and selling doubtful paintings or had taken away from cheating visitors of “Bohema” with special cunning) neither in Russia, nor in USA, nor in Germany, nor in France, nor in Swiss. The American laws say that since the first day when the newly made inhabitant had got the status of the resident of this country he was obliged to pay income tax in treasury of the USA at a rate of 35% from all it incomes without a dependence from what point of the world the income was taken.

There is a progressive system in states on which the incomes of the residents from above $356000 (and, there are a lot of expert’s assumptions, that Khochinskiy “scrapes” no less $2m avrg per year in 2000’s) in a year are taxed on to maximum rate in 35% from the sum of the totally income of the year, the minimum rate of the income tax for low-income people is 10%. But American tax department should check the fact, that neither Alexander, nor Tatjana (being USA resident since 2007) didn’t pay any taxes for their millions. Nevertheless, while Tax Administration and Immigration services of the USA haven't mentioned these "small violations" from the residents - one of the resident, as it suspects, don't pay taxes really, and the second constantly lives in Russia, even though on a duty of a resident to be in the USA more than 180 days in a year.

It is necessary to organize the similar tax checks in Russia. They say, Russian tax police has already inspected the husband and the wife, and possibly has found out, that both citizens of Russia, also did not pay taxes on their enormous profits in Russia - even at a rate of 13%. Khochinskiy submits the information to the tax and judicial authorities that he works as a consultant in his wife’s company and receives an average of 6-10 thousand rubles a month (i.e. about $3600 per year). His wife and her firm declare the same sums. It means, according to the experts, charge presentation in evasion from payment of taxes to the underground millionaire Khochinskiy is the business of time.

So far, authorities in Austria, France and Switzerland, did not notice the probable scheme of the international antique dealer, schemer and former criminal Khochinskiy, tax evader in all these countries. It's easy to discover: according for the experts, besides the offshore companies, legally belonging to the third parties, Alexander probably uses for keeping his millions and realization of doubtful transactions his personal account in the Swiss bank CREDIT AGRICOLE (SUISSE) SA, 4, Quai General-Guisan CH-1211 GENEVA 3, SWIFT: AGRICHGG, IBAN: CH36 0874 1010 5160 2000 1, Beneficiary: Khochinskiy Alexander), on the account of his Swiss company Mariat Ltd of the same bank, as well as on his account in the HSBC.

Resident of the United States for the outstanding achievements

However, freedom of untrustworthy Russian mafia-millionaire with criminal past is due to not only negligence or carelessness of the American authorities towards the resident, probably worldwide tax evader. One can say that he enjoys the support of politicians and intelligence services of USA, and friendly to America nations in Europe in exchange for information about the senior clients, partners and contractors in Russia.

For example, the well-known story of the confrontation between the authorities of Russia and the UK oil company British Petroleum, allowed catastrophic oil leak in Gulf of Mexico. U.S. authorities had to put the pressure on the leaders, as well as use, as suspect, some confidential information submitted by Khochinskiy. There is an opinion, that he is an agent of German Han (Executive Directors of TNK-BP, Russian BP’s subsidiary) on the global antique market. They say, that Khochinskiy used to tell that he followed the orders to purchase extremely expensive antiques for German Han at the largest auctions in Europe at cost of millions of dollars - afterwards these masterpieces may presumably become the gifts or main links in the corruption schemes of contracts obtaining from the Russian officials.

As the Americans might use such information - there is a well known example - erupted in March 2010, the scandal with Daimler AG. During the investigation by the U.S. government they admitted to paying bribes and kickbacks to official in exchange for contracts.

There are the suspicions, that among Alexander’s customers who may be of interest overseas and in USA, there is a whole list of oligarchs and officials, owners and senior executives of major companies. They suspects, that the misfortune to deal with suspicious antiques probably may: president of Alfa-bank Pyotr Aven, president of Russian finance corporation Andrey Nechaev, head of Invest Holding Nafta-Moscow Sulejman Kerimov, deputy Head of the Russian Federation Presidential Administration Igor Sirosh, cofounder of invest company Troika-dialogue Pavel Tepluhin, member of committee of directors Wimm-Bill-Dann food OJSC David Iakobachvili.

Business for the benefit of Russia

Russian art was enhancing steadily until 2008, this is how Khochinskiy became a millionaire – he gladly shares this fact with American and Russian press. However, the time of the Crisis literally paralyzed the Russian market of antiques, Alexander’s income fell down, and he launched new business, which, according to the experts, can be called as blackmail against his senior counterparts.

Oleg Muzyrya, the former chairman of Budget and Finance Committee of the Moscow City Duma, and now an entrepreneur and the head of agrarian holding “Magriko” became the victim of the antiquary–schemer with criminal past.

Nowadays within the limits of the national project Oleg Muzyrya is engaged in revival of agricultiral production on the basis of the industrial technologies. Have created the vertically-integrated manufacture-on the type of start-to-finish team - from crops of wheat to receiving the high-quality yarn with the subsequent receiving of a linen – Muzyrya hopes to strike a blow for the renewal of the domestic economy which is enduring hard Postcrisis times. Also the firm plans to develop the meat-and-milk production and within the limits of this part of the program to create a huge dairy complexes with introduction of the front lines of the European technologies. The project of the businessman has also the social aspect since the achievement of the laying down aims impossible without revival of farmer elite. It means that the firm spends considerable resources for training and reshaping of local personnel from numbers of agricultural educational institutions. As a result of 10 years the businessman expects to reach steady and stable indicators in producing the production from wheat with it active realization on the Russian market and with export to the world market.

«Blackmail» as a business

However, in the near future in the USA, Europe and Russia media due to Chancellor’s efforts PR-campaign to discredit the Russian businessman is ready to start. Since Khochinskiy U.S. resident, the Russian defector, already pushed demands to pay him ?400000, he begins, as believe, to blackmail Russian businessman relating to the sale of a large collection of icons.

The essence of his claims to Muzyrya is based on the fact that he allegedly advised Khochinskiy Roman Lakshin a collector of antiquities who lives abroad (in Monaco), and acted as an intermediary during the purchase of Lakshin collection of old icons worth $4,5 mln. And although two years ago, when Swiss police had arrested two icons of 17 century moved by Khochinskiy across the border of Swiss, Khochinskiy did not have claims.

But then his keenest mind possibly began to make sophisticated schemes of involving in this story as many people as possible, who in case may pay a compensation, and gradually the "absence of claims" turned out to be at the cost of "nominal" 100000 euro each. "And they may pay" - thought Khochinskiy. He attacked bringing into play Swiss lawyers from the firm of attorneys in Zurich (Walder Wyss & Partners Ltd, Dr. Demian Stauber, Dr. Mark Reutter). French lawyers with a dubious reputation in the Paris from the Cabinet Neuer (Dr. Jean-Jacques Neuer) probably would also help him.

Pay for the good name to antiquary with criminal past?

Oleg Muzyrya, as well as other respectable collectors (such as Roman Lakshin, architect and member of Swiss Parliament Andreas Gross), involved by Khochinskiy in the story with the chapel utensils, has probably the reason to worry. Icons of first quarter 17 century «Christ the High Priest and John the Baptist» and «The Mother of God with Child, near John the Theologian» were stolen from St James chapel, Trikomo during Turkish army invasion to Cyprus in 1974. They are on an international wanted list ever since.

Any accusation of complicity in their secret resale at least casts a shadow on the reputation of a successful businessman and an honest man. Khochinskiy decided to use this situation to try to get money, using actions very similar to blackmail, from other honest and decent Europeans, who had unfortunately met with Alexander in the field of collecting antiques. But this time, Khochinskiy would not get anything but full disclosure of his, as believe, criminal business and, probably deserved criminal prosecution by the tax authorities in Russia, Europe and the USA.

To be continued.