Dmitry Skarga, ex-CEO of Sovcomflot, gets 12 years for embezzlement

The ex-CEO of a leading state-controlled Russian shipping company Sovcomflot (SCF), Dmitry Skarga, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison in absentia for embezzling over RUB8bn ($130m), Russian Investigative Committee’s press service has reported. The ex-president of Novorossiysk Shipping Company (Novoship) Tagir Izmaylov, and gang organizer Yury Nikitin, described as Skarga’s accomplices, received 11 and 15 years in prison respectively.

The court ordered forfeiture of the defendants’ assets.

The Investigative Committee said that from 2001 to 2005 Skarga, Izmaylov and other members of a gang organized by Nikitin embezzled more that RUB8bn belonging to Sovcomflot subsidiaries, Novoship and its subsidiaries, by a series of unlawful and uncommercial shipping and banking transactions. Russian investigators repeatedly sent requests to the UK for the defendants’ extradition but were denied, the report claimed. The defendants continue to protest their innocence, which in the case of at least two of the defendants has been backed by the English courts.

As long ago as 2013, Skarga’s lawyers in the UK Stephenson Harwood won in the English Court of Appeal, with, according to Skarga, Sovcomflot in 2015 finally paying Skarga’s legal costs of more than £8m.

Skarga was Director General of Sovcomflot between 2000 and 2004, while Izmaylov was President of its sister company Novoship between 2001 and 2005. Allegations were made of a political persecution in Russia, with illegal evidence gathering including the misuse of private investigators, coercion of witnesses and concoction of evidence. “Many of the witnesses against both Mr Skarga and Mr Izmaylov were found to have been untruthful”, said Stephenson Harwood. Skarga remains resident in Reading, Berkshire.