A "high-profile" Ukrainian fugitive who faked his own death was discovered hiding out in a 12th-century French feudal castle known as Château de La Rochepot, living like a king, according to Bloomberg. The man allegedly forged death certificates to evade authorities following an anti-corruption crackdown in which he stands accused of stealing 12 million euros from a private company between March to May of 2015.
The fugitive, identified only as the “King of the Castle” by the European Union’s law-enforcement agency Europol, was detained on Oct. 5 near Dijon, according to a Tuesday statement. Officers recovered 4.6 million euros ($5.3 million) of property, including a 12th-century feudal castle, a vintage Rolls Royce Phantom, jewelry and three works of art by Salvador Dali. In parallel, the spokeswoman of Ukraine’s prosecutor general said the country will seek to extradite Dmytro Malynovskyi from France. -Bloomberg
According to Europol, "The suspect is thought to be behind a complex case of international fraud and money laundering."
French @Gendarmerie arrest Ukrainian ‘King of the Castle’ and seized over EUR 4 million, with Europol's support. The suspect is thought to be behind a complex case of international #fraud and #moneylaundering.— Europol (@Europol) October 16, 2018
Read more: https://t.co/esIVkLwzDN pic.twitter.com/vC6LHzO3g3
Malynovskyi was found after French police launched a January investigation over alleged suspicious transactions related to the purchase of the castle for 3 million euros by a Luxembourg shell company "whose ultimate beneficial owner was a Ukrainian citizen suspected of corruption at a large scale in his country."
In other news, you can buy a giant French castle for a 3 million Euros ($3.4 million USD) - about the same price as a 1,400 sqft house in Palo Alto, CA.
The "King of the Castle" was arrested with three accomplices, according to Europol - which coordinated with French, Ukrainian and Luxembourg authorities to determine that Malynovskyi used false death certificates, and "was not only alive, but was enjoying a lavish lifestyle in France."
The arrests highlight how graft remains a key political issue for Ukraine even after a 2014 revolution toppled then-President Viktor Yanukovych and exposed massive government corruption and bribery. The International Monetary Fund made the creation of an anti-corruption court a condition of unlocking its $17.5 billion bailout. Non-residents based in Ukraine were among customers implicated in about 200 billion euros that flowed through the Estonian unit of Danske Bank A/S between 2007 and 2015, much of which the lender regarded as suspicious. -Bloomberg
In a Tuesday Facebook post, Ukraine's prosecutor general said it had prepared documents to seek the extradition of Malynovskyi.
"The ‘resurrected’ citizen forged his death certificate and is now using a forged passport of a foreign country," said spokeswoman Larysa Sargan.
A Dijon investigative magistrate leading the case charged two men of dual Ukrainian and Moldavian nationality and subsequently placed them in pretrial detention, the gendarmerie said in its separate statement. Two women, also dual nationals from the same countries, were charged and then released. -Bloomberg
Swiss Authorities separately froze $2 million in accounts belonging to Sergey Kurchenko, an ally of Kanukovych, at the request of Ukrainian law enforcement.