By AML Intelligence Correspondent
THE TRIAL has got underway in France of a Ukrainian fraudster accused of using dirty money to buy a magnificent chateau in the heart of Burgundy wine country.
Dmitri Malinovsky (40) is accused of buying ‘La Rochepot’ after faking his death in a road accident in the city of Luhansk.
Malinovsky is charged with his ex-wife, a former girlfriend and three others with laundering up to €12M he allegedly swindled in a Singapore fertiliser deal through his purchase of the Château de Rochepot.
All the accused were detained after a Kyiv prosecutor concluded that he may have faked his car crash in 2014 and death certificate, and found a mobile phone video of him in a château in France.
Prosecutors became aware of his presence in France when he featured in Burgundy media about château owners had failed to pay bills amounting to tens of thousands of euros for renovation at La Rochepot.
Ukrainian and French police working through Europol raided the château and seized €4 million worth of assets and cash, including three paintings by Salvador Dalí and a Rolls-Royce Phantom .
“It was established that the suspect was not only alive but was enjoying a lavish lifestyle in France,” Europol said. “He is thought to be behind a complex case of international fraud and money laundering.”
Malinovsky, who had been based in Odesa, denies all the charges, along with Alla Tscherkasova, his ex-wife, and Olga Kiselova, the former girlfriend.
According to The Times newspaper the 12th-century fortress, perched on a hilltop, “was given a sumptuous makeover in the late 19th century by its owners, the family of President Sadi Carnot of France, and was receiving 30,000 visitors a year until Malinovsky’s arrest in 2018.
“Some of the region’s most hallowed vineyards, including Pommard, Puligny-Montrachet and Nuits-Saint-Georges, are nearby,” the paper added.
The château is now in the hands of the French state.
“Its furniture was sold off a year ago to pay its debts. Prosecutors identified Malinovsky after unravelling a chain of shell companies behind a Luxembourg-based group called GACM, which bought the château. Lawyers for Kiselova said she was the real owner,” said The Times.
The accused face possible prison terms of ten years and fines and damages in seven figures if convicted after what is expected to be a two-week trial.
Ukraine has sought Malinovsky’s extradition to face trial for fraud.