Source : themoscowtimes.com
By : RIA Novosti
Category : Hotel Website Development Florida
Five years after fleeing Moscow amid allegations of financial machinations, New York real estate mogul and socialite Janna Bullock is ensnared in a global tug-of-war with Russia over assets she is accused of stealing to fund her jet-set lifestyle. In an unprecedented development in a complex Russian corruption scandal intertwined with the opaque world of offshore finance, the lending arm of Russia’s state-owned energy giant Gazprom during the past year has convinced a court in Cyprus to freeze Bullock’s assets worldwide, according to court filings in the U.S. and Cyprus. The ruling has been echoed by similar injunctions ordered in France and the British Virgin Islands, a Caribbean offshore tax haven, against assets Bullock is alleged to control, according to documents filed in U.S. and British Virgin Island courts. The asset freezes, details of which emerged earlier this year in little-noticed Cypriot and U.S. litigation involving Bullock, come as Gazprombank seeks to recover $21 million in damages that it claims to have suffered due to purported fraud by Bullock and her associates.
The bank accuses Bullock, 46, of embezzling money from government-owned companies that it invested in and using the funds to purchase a $20 million yacht, an expensive London apartment and hotels in Courchevel, France, a posh ski resort popular among wealthy Russians. Bullock has launched a counteroffensive in U.S. federal court, where she has called the Cyprus case part of a conspiracy by her former Russian business associates to rob her of “hundreds of millions of dollars” by plundering the business empire that she built in and around Moscow. The standoff coincides with intensified efforts by Russian authorities to prosecute Bullock’s former associates on allegations of large-scale fraud — individuals who include her ex-husband Alexei Kuznetsov, a former senior official in the government of the Moscow Region. Kuznetsov was detained by French police on an Interpol warrant in July and now faces extradition to Russia. His tenure as the region’s chief of finance from 2000 to 2008 coincided with Bullock’s ascent as a real estate developer, art collector and high-society fixture in New York City.
Russian authorities have accused the reportedly now divorced couple and their associates of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from the regional government. Several of these associates have already been convicted or indicted in Russia on charges related to theft of funds from the region’s coffers, and the Investigative Committee said in November that an international warrant had been issued for the arrest of Bullock herself. Bullock, who was born in Soviet Belarus, emigrated to the U.S. in the early 1990s and later married Kuznetsov, a Russian banker with whom she has a daughter. Bullock embarked on a real estate career nearly a decade ago, setting up companies in both the U.S. and Russia and splitting time between the two countries. She made her name by snapping up and reselling multimillion-dollar homes in New York City, while at the same time conducting lucrative business with government-owned companies that Kuznetsov oversaw and was instrumental in capitalizing with public funds. During this period, Bullock climbed New York’s social ladder, becoming a party-circuit staple and ultimately a trustee of the Guggenheim Museum, which noted in its 2007 announcement of her election that she had amassed “more than 4,000 works by Russian artists from the late 19th century to the present day” as well as “400 works by Western contemporary artists.”
She stepped down from the Guggenheim board in 2010 as corruption allegations against her began emanating westward from Russia. Both Kuznetsov and Bullock left Russia in 2008 after Russian authorities announced a probe into whether companies tied to Bullock’s firm, RIGroup, illegally obtained real estate in the Moscow region, home to some of the country’s priciest real estate. Bullock told The New York Times in 2010 that at one point her company was worth $2 billion. Numerous large and small investors in the Moscow region-owned companies that Kuznetsov and Bullock have been accused of looting have turned to Russian courts to recoup their losses. But the freezing order issued by Cyprus appears to be the first known instance of a foreign court agreeing with Russia’s assertion that investors have an arguable claim against the pair.
Source : themoscowtimes.com/business/article/asset-chase-laced-with-corruption-and-the-good-life/485463.html