Lukashenko: $640 million laundered through Gazprom Bank in Belarus
The Russian authorities understand the reasons for the situation with the Belgazprombank case and the arrest of its former head Viktor Babariko, said President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko during a meeting with the government in the Minsk region.
“On June 24 (during my visit to Moscow), I noticed that when we ctracked down on this gas industry bank, they understood everything,” said Lukashenko, whose speech was broadcast by the Belarus-1 TV channel.
According to Lukashenko, the Belarusian authorities acted according to the law. “How else? 640 million dollars were laundered through Belgazprombank and transferred to Latvia,” said Lukashenko.
The money flowed to ABLV Bank, which, according to the U.S. Treasury Department, served as one of the largest “laundries” for transferring dirty money from Russia to Europe. Charges against the bank, which was among the top 3 in terms of assets in Latvia, were brought in 2018. In June, Latvian police conducted more than 40 searches as part of a criminal case, the largest special operation in the country’s history.
“The Americans have closed this bank for money laundering. When I see millions and millions of dollars pumped out – it’s the money made on us – what should be my actions?” asked Lukashenko.
He said that when law enforcement agencies carried out “searches in the bank, all the main bank cells contained flash drives, hard drives and mountains of documents.” “I realized that there is a huge layer of information there,” Lukashenko said.
According to him, the information about what happened in the bank came from the U.S.: the request was sent 2.5 years ago, but the data was provided only in December 2019.
“If the Americans hadn’t put pressure on the Latvian bank last year, it is unlikely that we would have had this information,” Lukashenka said.
Before the decision to run for the president of Belarus, Babariko was the head of Belgazprombank for 20 years. On June 11, the State Control Committee (KGC) of Belarus, after a search in the bank, opened a criminal case under section 2 of article 243 (“Tax evasion on a particularly large scale”) and under section 2 of article 235 (“Legalization of funds obtained by criminal means on a particularly large scale”). Babariko said at the time that the situation around the credit institution was of a bespoke political nature.
KGC later reported that Babariko had been detained because he was the direct organizer of the illegal activities. Together with Victor Babariko, his son Eduard, who is the head of the electoral staff, was taken to the KGB jail. In total, about 20 people were arrested in the Belgazprombank case. Gazprombank and Gazprom, which are shareholders of Belgazprombank holding 49.8% of shares, announced on June 12 that it was illegal to appoint a new acting chairman of the board of the Belarusian bank.