Viktor Babariko was sentenced to 14 years in prison. He ran for the presidency of Belarus, but before the elections he was detained
The Supreme Court of Belarus has sentenced the head of Belgazprombank Viktor Babariko to 14 years in a maximum security colony. The court announced the verdict at a retreat in the Moskovsky district court of Minsk.
Babariko also appointed a fine of 5,000 basic units (more than 57 thousand dollars). In addition, the court ruled to recover 46 million Belarusian rubles (more than $ 18 million) from him “as compensation for the damage caused.”
Babariko’s lawyer Dmitry Laevsky said that the defense will appeal against the verdict, since it “is based on charges that lie outside the law.”
Babariko was accused of accepting a bribe on an especially large scale and legalizing funds obtained by criminal means. He pleaded not guilty. The prosecutor asked to sentence Babariko to 15 years in prison.
According to the prosecution, since 2004, Babariko and his assistants have been systematically receiving bribes. According to Mediazona. Belarus ”, the prosecution considered the dividends that the companies established by Belgazprombank paid to foreign firms allegedly connected with Babariko as bribes. The prosecution believes that over 16 years the bank’s top managers have received more than 30 million Belarusian rubles from corporate clients (more than $ 11.8 million at the current exchange rate).
In addition, the prosecution considered that Babariko was laundering money when he acquired real estate in Minsk worth over one million Belarusian rubles ($ 394,000).
In May 2020, Viktor Babariko announced that he would run for president of Belarus. At that moment, he was considered the main rival of Alexander Lukashenko in the elections among the opposition. In June, the office of Belgazprombank was searched, and Babariko was detained and sent to the KGB pre-trial detention center. He was denied registration as a candidate. In August, according to the Central Election Commission of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko won the elections for the sixth time in a row – this led to mass protests in Belarus.