Belarus' top banker sentenced to 38 months in prison

Siarhey Kastsiuchenka / earchives.bsu.by

Founder and Priorbank CEO Siarhey Kastsiuchenka has been sentenced to 38 months in a correctional colony, Belarusian independent newspaper Nasha Niva reports. He was tried for tax evasion under Article 243 in the Penal Code. 

Two other businessmen were also convicted together with Kastsiuchenka. The trial was presided by judge Sviatlana Bandarenka.  

As Euroradio reported earlier, the famous banker was arrested in early March when he returned from Austria, where he permanently resided. 

The law enforcers were interested in a legal scheme to save on taxes through the savings insurance system called "Priorlife. Bankers used this system to withdraw dividends without paying income tax. The banking industry says it's a common system around the world.

"It's savings insurance common in the world. The point of it is that you bring money to a company that is very conservative in its management of funds -- a classic pension fund. It promises you a return after a certain period of time, starting from a few years. If we're talking about retirement, it's when you reach what's called "the age of survivorship."

When you put money into this insurance system, you don't have to pay taxes on it -- many bankers did this by transferring dividends from their work at the bank there," Nasha Niva quotes expert.

According to Nasha Niva's sources, Kastsiuchenka's detention occurred after he refused hockey coach Dzmitry Baskau's request to finance the Dynama club. Baskau is a favorite of Aliaksandr Lukashenka and was involved in the death of Raman Bandarenka at the "Square of Changes." 

Priorbank employees also think that Kastsiuchenka was accused of keeping in touch with Pavel Latushka. The politician says that he did not communicate with the banker after 2020, although he knew him from his former civil service.

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