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Not so long ago we covered the “Kokorev Case”: a Spanish businessmen of Russian-Jewish origins who, together with his family, has been extradited from Panama and imprisoned in Las Palmas (Spain) in September 2015, on the basis of accusations launched by his own former attorney, Ismael Gerli Champsaur.
Before signing a statement for the prosecutor of Las Palmas, Luis del Rio Montesdeoca, in which Gerli accused his former client together with his wife and son, of money laundering, Gerli spent months extorting the Kokorev family asking them for 300,000 USD in concept of a “termination fee,” and later sent dozens of e-mails containing insults of the family and anti-Semitic slurs – including one addressed to this newspaper.
As soon as Mr. Kokorev, his wife and son were arrested in Panama, Gerli fabricated a number of board meetings of their companies, in which he gave himself unlimited powers and later transferred all of their assets (valued at approx. 2 million dollars) onto his own name.
Despite the fact that Gerli’s blackmail (carried out, for most part, through hard evidence such as letters and e-mails), his forgeries and embezzlements (currently Gerli is facing up to 10 criminal charges in Panama Courts) has been exposed, the Judge of Las Palmas Ana Isabel de Vega Serrano and the prosecutor Montesdeoca have kept Vladimir Kokorev and his family in Las Palmas prison, with no possibility of bail for already 9 months. There are no formal charges, except for a vague “money laundering for the President of Equatorial Guinea [who is not a defendant in the case] by transfers made through Riggs bank”, while all the accusatory material is labelled “classified”. Mind-bogglingly for a country that forms part of the European Community, the “secrecy” of the case also extends to the defense – that is, not even Mr. Kokorev’s attorneys have access to the evidence that supposedly establishes the wrongdoings of their client.
Invoice for the annual insurance of the vessel Djibloho, paid to Kalunga Company by the Defense Department of Equatorial Guinea
Recently, the case has finally attracted the attention of Spanish investigative journalists. In two separate articles, published by Javier Cordero and Jose S. Mujica, it comes to light that the Prosecution Department of Equatorial Guinea have confirmed in an official statement that, between the years 1999 and 2003, the Government of Malabo have maintained commercial relationships with the company Kalunga, represented and owned by Vladimir Kokorev.
The letter evidences that Kalunga Company SA, provided the Government of Equatorial Guinea with a number of commercial goods, including a sea transportation vessel “Djibloho”, valued at 12,950,000 USD. The agreement for building and delivery of the vessel, dated September 11 1999, have been delivered to the Spanish Judge Ana Isabel de Vega Serrano. This agreement and other documents constitute proof of the source of funds of the transfers made by Riggs Bank to Kalunga.
Invoice of Kalunga Company for supply of two helicopters, issued to the government of Equatorial Guinea
In the same way, the Guinean public officials certify, with invoices and proof of payment, that Kalunga provided the former Spanish African Colony with two helicopters, two vessels type Kalkan, two vessels type Kafa and equipment for the Public Works Department, among others. Furthermore, the Prosecutor Office also states that Kalunga hired and managed “the crews required for the operation”.
This evidence effectively debunks the accusations against Vladimir Kokorev and Kalunga, as the transfers received by this company through Riggs Bank are justified as legitimate payments.
The journalists also refer to the sources from Kokorev family, who claim that Judge Ana Isabel de Vega Serrano – who keeps the procedures under secret – has in her power additional evidence proving that Vladimir Kokorev has dedicated for over 20 years to maritime and transportation business in Africa; that he invested into and managed equipment such as trucks, buses and fishing boats; and also was involved in acquisitions of large supplies of frozen fish from the fishing companies of former USSR operating in the waters of Morocco and Mauritania; and that he began to focus his business activities in Panama in 1998 due to the facilities for registration of the vessels and commercial discounts.
With all these facts, Cordero concludes, Judge’s rationale to keep in prison not only Vladimir Kokorev, but also his wife and son, defies any logical explanation.
For Mr. Kokorev’s family in Israel – his brother, father and nieces – who have already complained about the flagrantly inhuman and unfair treatment of their relative to Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Knesset, the reasons behind such uncanny actions of Spanish judicial administration are quite clear:
“We cannot tolerate for our relatives to rot defenseless in a secret prison,” stated Vladimir’s niece, Inna. “We demand to know why the Spanish Court is protecting Ismael Gerli, why it completely ignores the evidence presented by Equatorial Guinea, and why is it relying instead on a statement of a witness who is proven untruthful and whose criminal actions to take over the property of our family were carried out in suspicious synchronization with the arrest warrant issued by the Court of Las Palmas.”
In addition to the accusations for fraud, embezzlement and forgery that are pending over Ismael Gerli, the Panamanian attorney also figures prominently in the “Panama Papers” for his relationship with the firm Mossack Fonseca, and in particular for managing all the Panamanian companies belonging to the ex-president of Nicaragua, Arnoldo Aleman (currently in prison for money laundering).