Illya Surkov
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    Illya Surkov

    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.

    A risky step for a refugee, such a family connection could make Ilya Surkov persona non-grata for Russian immigrants, the London establishment and even lead to his extradition from Great Britain. Relations between London and Moscow are not particularly friendly at the moment, so such behavior could be considered improper by Britain’s officials. Moreover, the so-called "relative" in Russia could react unexpectedly.

    Meanwhile in Russia

    In Russia Ilya Surkov is charged with fraudulent affairs, including large-scale theft (Art.159 part 4 of Russia’s Criminal Codex). If convicted, he could spend up to 10 years in prison.

    Russian officials negotiate with London on the subject of Surkov’s extradition. And they may finally strike a deal soon, since in May of 2019 the Nikulinsky district court returned to the legal investigation of Surkov case that has been open since 2013.

    It was then that during his time as a president of Finstroy company, that Ilya Surkov stole over 380 million rubles. "Kommersant" wrote in 2013 that the money had been taken from the company’s accounts with forged documents and transferred to the accounts of Boulder Associated – Surkov’s company on the Panamanian Islands.

    There are confirmations in the case materials from the officials of Panama and Switzerland, that the money was received by Boulder Associated and further managed by Surkov as a beneficiary of the company. According to the documents of the case, part of the funds were transferred from Boulder Associated accounts to Lilia Sennova

    After Surkov had been charged in December 2013, his wife Lilia Sennova, a citizen of Russia and Switzerland, has attempted to have the family property released, despite the arrest.

    Following a bogus divorce Sennova filed a lawsuit to an arbitration court for a division of jointly acquired property. However, her penalty request has been rejected by the Moscow City Court.

    It turns out the lawsuit was just a trick: Surkov and Sennova have been spending a lot of time together since their fictitious divorce even uploading their photos together as an illustration of their dolce vita.

    The story of escape

    "On December 13, 2013 Surkov I.A. absconded while being under house arrest," – court materials say. Truth be told, the story of Surkov’s escape resembles a second-rate action movie. After investigation into his wrongdoings began, Surkov feigned illness and was transported to a hospital, which he soon left with the help of his accomplices. He went straight from hospital to the airport. On December 24, 2013 Ilya Surkov was declared wanted by Interpol.

    Surkov had to leave much his wealth behind in Russia, dozens of land plots in Moscow suburbs, an apartment in the capital with an area of more than 300 square meters and a country house in Barvikha.

    How to lose the stolen millions?

    According to sources in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Surkov acquired Greek citizenship even before his escape. The details of this obtainment raised a number of questions for investigators. Surkov was awarded citizenship on the grounds of real-estate ownership: a small apartment, 28 square meters, in a partially abandoned building in the town of Haladrion. What a contrast with his luxurious estate in Russia! However, Surkov is not mentioned in the town registry of real estate ownership. It seems that Surkov obtained the right for unlimited travel within the European Union by deceit. Oddly enough, his Greek passport expired in 2016 and the grounds, on which he currently resides and travels within the EU, are unknown to the public.

    Surkov and Sennova lived in grand style and spent their stolen money tastefully. Surkov bought a villa in the French town Mougins not far from Cannes. In addition to that, the couple settled at chateau Diodato in the French Riviera close to Monaco. Surkov and Sennova stayed there for a long time – the address has even been listed in the phone book. There is no direct evidence of their ownership of the chateau in French documents, though the estate could have been registered via on off-shore arrangement. In France there is no company that goes by their names.

    But what if they wished for a change of scenery, perhaps from the hot shores of French Riviera to the chill comfort of the Alps? Everything is possible! Sennova owns an apartment in a Swiss town Zollikon near Zürich. However, the life of high society in London appears more attractive than one in the Swiss countryside. Surkov’s extraordinary talents of a financial schemer helped him afford two apartments in the British capital: one costed the couple £3.45 million and the other £2.8 million. This is the city where the couple chose to settle down.

    But something went wrong. Apparently the happy couple ran out of stolen money. Surkov has put the house in Mougins up for sale for $1.2 million and in August 2016 villa Diodato became available for rent to any tourist willing to pay a thousand euro per day for a room.

    In London, Surkov and Sennova embody the law-abiding bourgeois. There isn’t a single entry of their names in the English and Welsh court registries. So what could explain Ilya Surkov’s reckless behavior in business and emigrant circles of London? New criminal activities that will surely result in him hiding from the police.

    In Russia, Ilya Surkov is accused of crimes committed under part 4 of article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation – Misappropriation of property on a large scale. He faces up to 10 years in prison on such charges.

    As in May 2019 Nikulinsky district court returned to the case of Surkov, stretching since 2013. It was then, as President of the company "Finstroy" Ilya Surkov stole more than 380 million rubles (over 5 million euro).

    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.

    On December 13, 2013 Surkov, being under house arrest, disappeared from the investigation. On December 24, 2013 Ilya Surkov was wanted on the international wanted list in France, Greece and all Interpol member states.

    According to the article Surkov asks Russian oligarchs for money in London published by , "On December 13, 2013 Surkov I.A. absconded while being under house arrest," – court materials say. After investigation into his wrongdoings began, Surkov feigned illness and was transported to a hospital, which he soon left with the help of his accomplices. He went straight from hospital to the airport. On December 24, 2013 Ilya Surkov was declared wanted by Interpol.

    According to sources in the Interior Ministry of Russian Federation, Surkov still to escape from Russia he became a citizen of Greece.

    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.

    After the charge against Surkov in December 2013, his wife, a citizen of Russia and Switzerland Lilia Scheffler-Sennowa ( tried to withdraw the family property from arrest. Having issued a fictitious divorce, she filed a lawsuit in the arbitration court for the division of marital property. However, in vindication on the basis of the decision of the Moscow city court it was refused.

    Surkov transferred money from Boulder Associated to Lilia Scheffler-Sennowa before escape from Russia.

    Surkov bought a villa in the French town of Mougins near Cannes. The couple also chose Chateau Diodato on the Cote d’azur near Monaco. Surkov stayed there for a long time, this address was even listed in the French telephone directory. There is no direct indication of the ownership of this Chateau by Surkov and Sennova in French documents, but they could register the property offshore. There is no company with this name in France. Sennova owns an apartment in the Swiss town of Zollikon near Zurich.

    Surkov also paid 3.45 million pounds for one apartment in the British capital and 2.8 million pounds for the second. They spouse settle there.

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