World

Russian Banker Accused Of Helping Crime Syndicate

| by Michael Doherty
A stack of Russian bank notes.A stack of Russian bank notes.

The deputy head of Russia's central bank helped a crime syndicate launder money through banks and real estate in Spain, according to a newly released report.

Spanish investigators allege Alexander Torshin, who formerly worked as a senator in Russian President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party before he became the deputy head of Russia's central bank, instructed members of Moscow's Taganskaya crime syndicate on how to launder money through real estate deals and banks in Spain, according to Bloomberg.

Torshin allegedly gave the instructions while he was a deputy speaker of the upper house of the Russian parliament. Torshin has denied the allegations, and said that his relationship with Alexander Romanov, the alleged Taganskaya leader in Spain, is purely social in nature. He said that the only way that he was a godfather was for Romanov's teenage son, who was baptized in 2000.

"Within the hierarchical structure of the organization, it’s known that Russian politician Alexander Porfirievich Torshin stands above Romanov, who calls him 'godfather' or 'boss,'" said investigators in the report. The authorities also claim that Romanov, who was sentenced to four years in a Spanish prison after pleading guilty to illegal transactions totaling over $1.83 million, conducted "activities and investments" on behalf of Torshin.

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The allegations regarding Torshin are based on phone conversations with Romanov that authorities recorded in 2012 and 2013, as well as documents seized from a villa owned by Romanov.

Torshin said he met Romanov in the 1990s, and later worked together with him at Russia's central bank, according to The Moscow Times. He said that he has not spoken with Romanov since his arrest in 2013.

"I'm a public individual, and I'm not hiding anywhere," said Torshin.

Torshin also has connections in the U.S., where he is a member of the National Rifle Association. He has reportedly met with U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump, as well as sharing a dinner table with the nominee's son, Donald Trump Jr., at an NRA convention in May.

Even after the report's release, Spanish authorities aren't confident that Torshin will be indicted.

"Prosecuting Torshin isn’t worth the effort because Russia doesn’t cooperate in cases involving high-ranking officials," said one unidentified Spanish official.

Sources: The Moscow Times, Bloomberg / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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