Doing Business in Russia: Ex-CEO of One of Russia’s Largest Broadline IT Distributors Survived a Murder Attempt After Whistleblowing Corruption and Fraud Cases

Vyacheslav Simonenko, former CEO of Russian Merlion group of companies, one of the largest broadline IT distributors in the country, addressed letters to Lenovo, Apple, Acer, Dell, Cisco and Intel headquarters pointing to economic crimes, corruption cases and tax fraud related to their Russian partner. He left the company for ethical reasons and now believes that global offices must be aware of criminal practices used by Merlion group of companies in Russia.    

We are publishing his letter to Lenovo in full:

I would like to report important information to you regarding your official partner – the group of companies “Merlion”.

From 1997 to 2015, I worked at the Merlion Group of Companies, and from 2007 to 2013 as CEO of the Merlion Group of Companies. I have also been one of the shareholders in this business since 1999.

 In 2015, when I left the business of the Merlion Group of Companies, there was an attempted murder of my family and me.

 Unidentified persons in masks threw Molotov cocktails at my house at night. Criminal case on the fact of attempted murder of V.A. Simonenko under the number 12002450020000006, initiated 02/06/2020 OROVD SU in the SZAO GSU SCR (the Investigative Committee) in Moscow under Paragraph 3 of section 30 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, Para 2(e and j) of section 105 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, Para 2 of section 167 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

In the course of the investigation, the majority shareholders of the Merlion Group of Companies Karchev Oleg, Mangutov Vladislav, Abramov Alexey and the “de facto” head of their security service Levin Boris were brought to criminal responsibility.

Now the criminal case on the attempted murder of me is pending at the Central Office of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation.

 In the course of the investigation of the criminal case, the investigators of the Investigative Committee also revealed (and continue to reveal) the facts of economic crimes committed by employees and companies of the Merlion Group, namely:

      • Facts of non-payment of taxes to the country’s budget by the the Merlion Group of Companies

      • Corruption schemes when delivering to government agencies of the Russian Federation

      • Facts of fraudulent documents in the supply of goods to various commercial and government structures, aimed at concealing the resulting excess profits, which were subsequently illegally withdrawn and spent, among other things, on the corruption of transaction participants both in the customers of the goods and among the employees of suppliers 

      • Schemes for the production of “black cash” based on retail projects of the Merlion Group of Companies

 Numerous facts that became known thanks to the publications of open media, the information of eyewitnesses and victims indicate that the profits received by the Merlion Group of Companies, including through cooperation with your organization, are used by the owners of this business for criminal purposes, with the aim of corrupting representatives of state authorities in the persons of law, enforcement agencies, organization of torture, bribery of witnesses and officials, sale of official materials of the investigated criminal case to the accused and the desire to bring innocent people to criminal responsibility on far-fetched grounds.

Despite numerous complaints from victims, the actions of the national law enforcement agencies cannot be considered as sufficient, effective and complete actions, including due to numerous facts of corruption. 

These circumstances, in accordance with international legal norms, testify to the additional responsibility of organizations that are participants in international business activities and are actually indirectly involved in the financing of this illegal activity.

 The validity of the above conclusions is fully confirmed by international law enforcement practice, reflected, among other things, in the Review of the Practice of Interstate Bodies for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms No. 2 (2020) (prepared by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation).

 As a long-term participant in the IT market, I would like to warn the management of your company about these facts and at the same time, I am asking to provide all possible support to the investigation, which is investigating both the attempted murder case and the emerging new criminal cases of an economic nature.

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