The British kingdom once again shelters a Russian swindler who made a fortune by stealing money from the accounts of a construction holding company he headed. He is currently on the international wanted list since December 24, 2013, but he feels calm and at ease in the UK.
Сaution, professional fraudster
Ilya Surkov, the former president of Finstroy Holding, is holing up in London. In 2009-2010, in Russia, he stole 6 million euros. He then transferred the stolen money to his overseas bank accounts, including an offshore one in Panama.
As the newspaper Kommersant wrote in 2013, on the basis of false documents, these funds were stolen from the accounts of Finstroy and according to the investigation transferred to the accounts of Surkov controlled Panamanian firm Boulder Associated.
The case file contains information received from the competent authorities of Panama and Switzerland, which confirmed the receipt of funds by Boulder Associated, as well as the fact of disposal of the money Ilya Surkov as its beneficial owner.
Surkov transferred money from Boulder Associated to Lilia Scheffler-Sennowa before his escape from Russia.
Forged documents and the secret of birth
In December 2013, while being under investigation in Russia, Surkov broke his house arrest and fled from the country. To accomplish this, he pretended to be ill and then absconded straight from the hospital to the airport, according to the article Surkov asks Russian oligarchs for money in London published by Rucriminal.info. As the Interior Ministry of the Russian Federation stated, Ilya Surkov left the country with a forged greek passport.
As a professional con artist, Ilya Surkov arranged his affairs in advance: before escaping from Russia, he “became” an ethnic Greek using forged documents. Even though his Russian passport shows that his birthplace is Moscow, this did not prevent the swindler from obtaining documents, to be presented to the Greek authorities, stating that he was allegedly born in the city of Shymkent, Kazakhstan, to which Greeks were forcibly exiled from all over the USSR in the 1940s and 1950s. Meanwhile, official information received from the competent authorities in Kazakhstan confirms that Ilya Surkov and his fictitious relatives were neither born nor ever lived in the country. The Kazakh authorities were so astonished that they checked all state archives twice over: not only Surkov was not born in Kazakhstan, he had never even visited this country.
Surkov continues to hold Greek citizenship but has not renewed his Greek passport, which expired in 2016. He used two passports different in place of birth: Russia and Kazakhstan.
Brought to justice but still on the run
When the court hearing on his case did finally take place after stretching for several years since 2013, the Nikulinsky court in Moscow sentenced him to 5 years at a minimum-security prison. This event took place in December 2019. At that time, the Nikulinsky District Court found Ilya Surkov guilty of three counts of grand fraud. Then, in July 2020, the Judicial Collegium for Criminal Cases of the Moscow City Court heard the appeal and increased his sentence to 8 years in prison.
What is noteworthy is that his prison sentence was increased as a result of the appeal: The State Prosecutor and the victim believed that the punishment imposed on Surkov did not correspond to the gravity of the crimes committed, while Surkov’s defender tried to appeal the very fact of his guilt.
While the court hearings were taking place in Russia over Surkov, he resumed his fraudulent activities, now in Europe.
Russian swindler pretends to be a prisoner of conscience
In 2016, the United Kingdom granted him asylum. Surkov was able to get it by claiming that he was allegedly persecuted for political reasons in Russia. His claim was accepted at face value and, consequently, Westminster Magistrates’ Court refused to sanction his extradition on charges of fraud.
But Surkov deceived the judicial authorities of the United Kingdom by concealing from them the not-insignificant detail that he was also a citizen of Greece. In court, Surkov only talked about the fact that he allegedly faced persecution in Russia on political grounds. He neither mentioned his Greek citizenship nor explained why he did not leave Russia for Greece, of which he was also a citizen and where he was not subjected to political persecution. In fact, it was his Greek passport that enabled him to leave the Russian Federation in violation of his pre-trial restrictions. The reason for his lies could be simple – had the British authorities found out about his second European citizenship, Surkov most likely would have never been granted political asylum. Hopefully, in the future, the Crown Prosecution Service will be checking this type of documents of individuals seeking political asylum in the UK more thoroughly.
Partner in crime
This whole story would be reminiscent of a Guy Ritchie-style crime comedy about unlucky Russian swindlers. But unfortunately, this is life and not a screenwriter’s fantasy. It is all the more astounding that despite the many revealed facts of the unscrupulousness of the Russian thief Ilya Surkov, the British authorities still allow him to remain in our country.
Surkov’s property in Russia is currently under arrest: a 300 square meter apartment in Moscow, land in the Moscow region, a house and property in the elite district of Barvikha (the “Russia’s capital for the rich”), and a house in France. The sums with six zeros – certainly something worth fighting for. This is why Surkov tried to recover the arrested property by filing a sham divorce with his wife, Lilia Scheffler-Sennowa. Moreover, he retroactively signed a loan agreement with her, according to which he allegedly received from her 10.4 million US dollars in cash (!). Special greetings to the financial control authorities, which are known to be crazy about cash transactions.
According to the official authorities “the origin of more than 10 million US dollars, which a native of Kazakhstan, a citizen of Russia and the Swiss Confederation, Lilia Scheffler-Sennowa, allegedly transferred in cash to her future, and then to her former spouse Ilya Surkov in 2010 and 2011 in Moscow, is shrouded in mystery. Perhaps the law enforcement or tax authorities of Russia and Switzerland will clarify this issue in the near future.”
It is easy to surmise that this step was taken so that the swindler’s chosen one would sue him for her part of the arrested property, claiming it has been jointly acquired, and then it would be released from under arrest. The idea is quite simple and unoriginal, and one can say it is a shame that the spouses so ineptly tried to deceive their country’s powers that be. The couple failed in their two-move game plan: the deception was exposed, as Ilya Surkov and Lilia Scheffler-Sennowa continued to publish romantic photos of the two of them together on their social media. Moreover, in response to the request from the Russian prosecutor’s office, the Swiss authorities provided convincing information: during that time, it was not Sennowa lending money to Surkov, but Surkov that has been transferring money to Sennowa from the Panamanian companies controlled by him. This is why, back in 2017, the Russian judicial authorities rightly did not believe in such fantastical loans between the ex-spouses and rejected Sennowa’s demand to issue a writ of execution.
But Surkov didn’t remain at a loss even then: he retroactively issued a promissory note, which he allegedly issued in 2010 to a completely paralyzed disabled person, in exchange for $8.5 million – of course, also in cash! – and on this basis declared his bankruptcy in Russia.
Insolvent Surkov leads a luxurious social life in London. And it doesn’t bother anyone
But despite his bankruptcy, Surkov denies himself nothing in London. Without the slightest hesitation, he spends leisure time with his main creditor and part-time ex-wife Lilia Sennowa in the most opulent London clubs. What’s most interesting is that the financial supervisory authorities do not seem interested in the origins of funds that pay for such a plush lifestyle.
Surkov paid 3.45 million pounds for one apartment in the British capital and 2.8 million pounds for the second.
It is also noteworthy that Lilia Scheffler-Sennowa, creative and managing producer for Russian Roulette Magazine, which caters to wealthy Russian speakers living or visiting London, also feels totally at ease in London: she attends parties, shows up at black-tie events on the arm of her “ex” husband. At the same time, in the Arbitration Court of the city of Moscow, her representative demands from Surkov the return of 10.4 million US dollars she allegedly lent to him. Despite the fact that she was a faithful assistant to her husband in his scams and machinations, the capital of the United Kingdom seems to have become a second home for her.
But London was not enough for them, Ilya Surkov also bought a villa in the French town of Mougins near Cannes and Chateau Diodato on the Cote d’azur near Monaco. He lived in France for a long time, the address of his villa was even listed in the French telephone directory. His companion Ms Sennova also owns an apartment in the Swiss town of Zollikon near Zurich.
Ilya Surkov in media
The Russians, who settled in Switzerland over the past years, caused serious concern, because Ilya Surkov , President of “Finstroу”, who was accused of committing crimes under part 4 of article 159 of the criminal code and accused of embezzlement and embezzlement of 380 million rubles., in December 2013, according to the legislation of the Russian Federation, threatened him with ten years of imprisonment, lived in Switzerland, avoiding Russian law.
Ilya Surkov, former president of Finstroy, a Russian realty business, is the focus of the Swiss newspaper’s scrutiny. Surkov has previously been accused of crimes under Part 4 of Article No159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. In December 2013, he was charged with the theft and embezzlement of 380 million rubles, which could result in 10 years imprisonment.
Russian businessman Ilya Surkov, the former president of Finstroy, a construction company, was charged with larceny and misappropriation of 380 million roubles (over 5 million euros). This, according to Russian law, could carry up to 10 years in prison.
Ilya Surkov, the Russian businessman, turned out to be faking his Greek origin. Text was originally published in Pentapostagma (Greek on-line magazine).
At the end of 2019, Moscow’s Nikulinsky Local Court issued the verdict against businessman Ilya Surkov (Ilias Sourkov according to his Greek passport). Surkov was accused of embezzling and transferring stolen funds (more than 9 million euros in total) to foreign accounts and, among other things, to accounts of his offshore company (Boulder Associated S.A.) based in Panama. The court sentenced 5 years in prison with a stay in the penitentiary under paragraph 4, Article 159 of CCRF.
«Stealing several hundreds of millions rubles in Russia, running from justice to London playing a role of a victim of the violent regime – these actions constitute the typical behavior of a con man, who is being charged with large-scale theft. Such people usually lay low enjoying luxurious lifestyle, with open criminal cases in Russia having close to zero impact on their spending habits. There is no London-Russia extradition agreement, after all. Ilya Surkov’s story is one of many, but with one peculiar difference.
It is unknown whether extreme greediness or his emptying bank accounts drive Ilya Surkov’s actions. Vaguely though emphatically he hints to his family relationship with Russian president’s advisor Vyacheslav Surkov in attempts to enrich himself with money from London investors and Russian diaspora, promising the former shares in a successful real estate business and the latter – resolution of delicate matters in the motherland».
Ilya Surkov transferred the stolen money to the accounts of Panamanian company Boulder Associated, controlled by him. Ilya Surkov paid 2.8 million pounds for one apartment in London and 3.45 million pounds for a second. One is a newly renovated four-story house in the city, and the other is a luxury apartment with fewer stairs, more building amenities and better infrastructure. It seems to be that Russian home buyers in London—formerly a cornerstone of the city’s ultra-luxury sales—have renewed their activity.