The heads of several tour companies that just recently stunned thousands of their clients with the news they were bankrupt and instantly going out of business have been put on an international wanted list, Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said on Tuesday. Also, a court ordered their arrest in absentia. Twenty five thousand clients whose holiday plans have been spoiled are on the list claimants.
Markin said the chiefs of four travel firms - Labirint, Labirint-T, Company Labirint and Ideal Tour - Sergey Azarskov and Mikhail Shamanov - are faced with fraud charges.
“At the moment Shamanov and Azarskov are on an international list of wanted suspects. A court has issued an arrest warrant in their absence. Investigators are to identify the damage caused to clients, as well as accomplices,” he said.
“Investigators say Shamanov and Azarskov had drawn up a fraudulent plan back last year for defrauding their companies’ clients of cash. The scheme took shape no later than December 2013. For this purpose the accused persuaded the co-owners of the Labirint group of companies offering a wide range of travel services to sell up most of their shares and stakes in charter capitals to Azarskov, who thus gained control of the firms in question,” Markin said.
From that moment on the fraudsters “were gathering cash from their clients ostensibly for paying air fares with no intention of ever complying with their obligations, and transferred the cash to an account of an economic entity under their control and eventually used the money at their discretion.”
Since the middle of last July a group of travel companies have had to go out of business due to financial constraints, leaving more than 60,000 holiday-makers suspended. Criminal causes over fraud have been opened against five companies - Labirint, Roza Vetrov Mir, Ideal Tour, Neva and Expo Tour. Investigators say the owners of all firms had been aware of the heavy debts but kept selling vouchers to unsuspecting clients.
The last group of abandoned tourists who required evacuation due to travel firms’ bankruptcies arrived in Moscow by plane from Bulgaria earlier on Tuesday. Earlier, the tour operators association Turpomoshch (Tourist Assistance) said the evacuation of all clients would cost 130 million dollars ($3.6 million).