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  Tuesday, August 20, 2019
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Moscow's Chertanovsky court on Tuesday began hearings of the criminal case against Sergei Mavrodi
Moscow's Chertanovsky court on Tuesday began hearings of the criminal case against Sergei Mavrodi, mastermind of the MMM pyramid scheme that cheated thousands of people in the early 1990s. The defendant acknowledged his guilt. Earlier, his lawyers lodged a petition asking for special trial regime and the opportunity to familiarize themselves with case materials. A lawyer of Mavrodi said it might take at least a year to study the case. "I can say nothing about the return of money to investors until I familiarize myself with the case," the defendant said. The court has adjourned. It is due to announce the trial regime and whether or not it will extend custody for Mavrodi. If it rules on a special trial procedure, his punishment cannot exceed two-thirds of the maximum penalty, i.e. four years. The MMM scheme was the largest "financial pyramid" in the history of the country. In the course of preliminary investigation, 10,454 people were recognized as victims, but experts say the real number runs into ten million. Rough estimates suggest that Mavrodi and his brother Vyacheslav earned some three billion roubles. In 2003, the court sentenced Mavrodi Jr to five years in prison. After the collapses of the MMM scheme, Sergei Mavrodi fled abroad in 1995. Russian law-enforcement bodies put him on the international wanted list. On January 31, 2003, he was detained in Moscow where he was living under a false passport. Three criminal cases were investigated against the MMM founder - forgery of documents, fraud and tax evasion. On December 2, 2003, Moscow's Khamovnichesky court sentenced Mavrodi to 13 months in prison for complicity in passport forgery. The second criminal case - over tax evasion to the tune of 8.5 billion of non-denominated roubles - was dropped on the strength of the statute of limitation.
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