Author`s name Andrey Mihayloff

German Lillevali and tumbled pyramids of grand strategists

How do famous film directors and athletes become baits for pyramid schemes? How are such prominent figures as Anatoly Karpov, Nikita Mikhalkov and other renowned personalities in Russia involved with the scammers from Anchor-Invest?

Scarcely ever it is possible to catch and put into jail big-time operators of financial pyramids how it happened with Mavrodi, the famous "financier of Russia".

Apart from Mavrodi, a variety of pyramids existed and continue to operate in Russia that have the same backbone; to take your money.

How do the founders of the pyramids play on trust, who is used to attract "clients" and why do law enforcement authorities often do not see or do not want to see the obvious? When do well-known figures of culture and sports become real "baits" for naive citizens, who then leave their funds in the pyramids of fraudsters?

Financial pyramids in Russia continue to be founded and are successfully developing in spite of everything. We have enough people who are naive and illiterate in money matters, which means that this profitable activity will continue to mislead those who want to increase their capital with the help of financial schemes.

Moreover, the largest dealers in the "pyramid business" are usually left alone, allowing the fraudsters to go abroad with depositors' money. Most likely for a good kickback.

Of course, those who have invested in the pyramid with their hard-won money are left out in the cold, but ordinary accountants, managers and other service personnel who worked in the company appear before the law.

We are talking about the famous financial pyramid Anchor-Invest, which was part of the investment holding GL Financial Group, the founder of which was German Lillevali. According to some information from open sources, a large financier, suspected of fraud, who is now on the wanted list, was once close friends with another chess player and State Duma deputy Anatoly Karpov. This fact quite possibly played a significant role in the "success of the enterprise" of Lillevali?

Fraudsters from Anchor Invest took money from wealthy clients to buy shares of such companies as General Motors, Apple, The Coca-Cola Company. After that, employees of another division of Anchor Invest bought securities of the so-called garbage companies founded with the participation of German Lillevali. Then the companies that received the money encashed it and sent it in sacks to the Lillevali summer house in Serebryany Bor. Meanwhile, fictitious reports on the purchase of shares of large companies were published in the personal accounts of investors.

That is, the employees of the «pyramid firm» took money to buy shares of large companies from clients. In fact, this money was simply brought to the summer house to Lillevali, no one bought anything. Money was simply extorted from clients for personal enrichment of the founders and participants of the pyramid.

How it all began

In the early 2000s, businessman German Lillevali started trading in the stock market. His holding GL Financial Group positioned itself as a "financial boutique". Among his clients were many famous people who became real baits for other investors who lost their hard-won money in a fraudulent pyramid. Awards, satisfied customers, range, recognition, what could go wrong, but in 2017 GL Financial Group suddenly began to hold back money from clients. The company justified the delays by the actions of partner banks, allegedly American organizations were slowing down transfers to Russia. Finally, doubts began to dissipate in April 2018, when Lillevali withdrew himself from the founding members and suddenly left for Cyprus. At first, he vowed to return the money. The financier sent the following message to the clients on Facebook: "I promise you that the money is safe. I will return them personally. There is nothing to worry about". Lillevali also urged investors to learn how to play chess.

Lillevali stopped communicating and began to hide his real location in May 2018, when the Bank of Russia became interested in the office, which began to receive complaints, and revoked the license from Anchor Invest. However, even this did not stop the activities of the organization, which continued to turn over clients' money despite the ban of the regulator.

The investigation took for the Lillevali holding a financial pyramid and in October 2018 opened a fraud case, the damage from which could reach $250 million. In June 2020, the businessman was put on the international wanted list. In October 2020, Lillevali was detained in the United States for violating immigration rules, after which they decided to deport him to Estonia. However, the financier managed to escape by fleeing to America again. After all, Russia does not have extraditions from Estonia, which means that the investigation is again occupied with office managers, who get asked for all the «sins» of German Lillevali while he is having a great rest somewhere on the ocean shore.

How most famous people of the country turned out to be among the big "investors" of the pyramid

We were interested in the participation in the financial pyramid of some prominent businessmen, show business figures and, in general, very famous people. Could they not know and understand what they got involved in and why the fraudster chess player needed their participation so much?

Bragging about is the favorite trick of financial fraudsters. Luxurious office on st. Marshal Meretskiy, 3, the building belonged to a prominent businessman Andrey Korkunov, it housed Anchor Bank, offices in Zurich, Geneva, Riga, London and Switzerland, parties in Moscow City and other attributes of an expensive and rich life and decent companies, all this is only part of the «success» of the fraudulent scheme.

The main thing in attracting prominent and very rich clients for Lillevali was the creation of "baits" from famous artists and athletes. What the friendship with Karpov was worth, this could have had affected a number of people who were «thrown» and left without money and hopes for the return of their deposits.

It is not known for certain how exactly Nikita Mikhalkov left this pyramid, but his participation in this scheme, in the form of an investor, is straightforward information.

Surely such well-known and successful pyramid investors were often cited as examples to increase confidence in the fraudulent scheme.

According to Russian media reports, such figures as Mikhalkov, the goalkeeper of the Russian national football team Marinato Guilherme, political scientist Dmitry Orlov and even Deripaska were active participants in the pyramid, that is, investors and recipients of income from deposits.

Whether Lillevali deceived the «baits» themselves also remains behind the scenes, it is possible that these VIP clients did not suffer at all, but quite the opposite.

After all, when things were going well at the pyramid, Lillevali's "investment boutique" worked so successfully that in 2016 he received the Financial Olympus award, becoming the best trust management company in Russia.

There was really a lot of trust, clients deposited from 200 thousand euros and more. And no wonder, with such clients as prominent personalities, because if they, well-known throughout the country and respected people have invested there, then everything is fine. This is exactly how the now deceived depositors explain the financial pyramid, and this is exactly what the rich hunters for easy money were counting on. There is also such information that famous figures, being bait for clients, did not suffer at all from the fraudster German Lillevali, but successfully managed to withdraw their finances from the pyramid. As in the case of Mikhalkov, to whom Lillevali still paid his money, which is also known from open sources.

All this remains a question and even a mystery, it remains to be clarified, perhaps with the help of chess logic, which was so loved by the pragmatist and adventurer Lillevali.

And here a whole series of questions already arises, which should be dealt with by investigators: did famous figures receive income from the pyramid? If so, are they not full-fledged participants in the pyramid scheme and fraud?

It is necessary to find out during the investigation, but whether such investigation is being conducted or not, not clear yet.

According to open sources, it is clear that only unknown office managers are brought to justice, while leaving the fraudsters and creators themselves, as well as the participants in the pyramid, free and with money.

Who will be responsible for money cheating?

In fact, today not only office workers should be held accountable to deceived depositors, which is strange itself, but also those people who could not help but understand that their presence in financial schemes and pyramids was the very "guarantee" for clients on which they "pecked", leaving considerable sums in the pyramid.

It seems very strange to us that smart and educated people, famous artists, directors, football players and businessmen, did not know what they were involved in.

Moreover, it is completely incomprehensible to us why the investigation is so sluggishly looking for the founder of the pyramid, German Lillevali, because it is this person who today is the main culprit and holder of large sums of defrauded depositors.

Our "Special Investigation Centre" decided to conduct its own investigation of this case, as we were interested in the topic of financial pyramids. During the crisis, as a rule, all kinds of fraudulent schemes, pyramids and other deceptive ways of earning money come up. We have successful experience in investigating such cases and we hope that here we will also have an interesting investigation that will benefit society and possibly punish those responsible, while returning the contributions of those who were so cruelly deceived. In addition, it is time to stop this fraudulent mechanism, which not only "unloads" the rich and successful, but often ordinary people become victims of fraudsters, leaving the last in the pyramids.

This happened, for example, with the defrauded depositor’s equity holders of the fraudulent pyramid for the construction of houses for disabled deaf and dumb people. Then a few years ago, we investigated this case and helped people who lost their money and housing because of someone's schemes, return their contributions and punish those responsible.

Be vigilant and follow our investigations.

To be continued… 

Valentina Bobrova, journalist of Special Investigation Centre