24 April 2013, 10:00
Bilalov suspected of organizing large-scale tax evasion scheme with hajj tours
Moscow, April 24, Interfax - Ex-President of the Russian Olympic Committee Akhmed Bilalov is suspected of tax evasion through a travel agency organizing Muslim pilgrimage tours.
"A probe has been started to find out whether Bilalov played a role in devising a large-scale criminal tax evasion scheme through a travel agency organizing Russian Muslims' pilgrimage tours to Mecca," the Russian Interior Ministry's press center told Interfax.
Bilalov earlier was the Hajj Council's envoy and member of the government commission for religious organizations, and "he could have been involved in organizing a tax evasion scheme," the press center said.
"The Interior Ministry's Main Department for Economic Security and Combating Corruption is working on it," according to the press center.
The press center earlier announced that the Department for Economic Security and the Federal Security Service "have exposed a criminal tax evasion scheme, run by a group of suspects, among them managers and employees of travel agencies and other commercial firms, and representatives of a public religious organization."
"It has been established that a travel agency would organize hajj tours to Saudi Arabia for Russian Muslims for a reward with no financial accounts run of the transactions," the Interior Ministry said.
"The following scheme was used to conceal the earnings: part of the money paid by the pilgrims would be handed over to a commercial organization whose employees would convert them into dollars for a 3%-7% commission, and transfer the proceeds to offshore zones in Arab countries, including Jordan and the United Arab Emirates," the ministry said.
"Once abroad the money would be turned into cash, transferred under fake bank orders to this religious organization and subsequently returned to the travel agency's general director," it said.
"The other part of the money would remain in Russia and used in illegal money laundering schemes," the Interior Ministry said.
The damages suffered by the state coffers are estimated at over 56 million rubles, the Federal Tax Service said.
A criminal case has been started against the travel agency's director, who has dual Russian and Jordanian citizenship, on charges of large-scale tax evasion.