Chief Russian investigator accused of accepting record 1,032 bitcoin bribe

A group of hackers allegedly bribed a Russian official investigating their case with a record sum of 1,032 bitcoin worth $28 million, prompting his swift suspension while his case goes to court.

Marat Tambiev has worked for the Investigative Committee of Russia (ICR) since 2011. He held major roles across Russian investigative departments before becoming head of the Tverskoy district of Moscow’s investigative department.

Tambiev allegedly received the hefty bribe on April 7, 2022 from hacking group Infraud Organization Mark. Its members, Kirill Samokutyaevsky and Konstantin Bergmanov, were under investigation in Russia during that time.

According to a lawsuit brought to the Nikulinsky District Court of Moscow, Tambiev took the bitcoin bribe from the pair on the condition that the group’s illegally obtained assets wouldn’t be confiscated. This meant that Samokutyaevsky and Bergmanov evaded jail time.

When the alleged bribe was first discovered in early 2023, the 1,032 bitcoins were worth 1.6 billion rubles, surpassing the previous Russian bribery record of 1.4 billion rubles, which was paid out over time rather than in one go.

1,032 bitcoin bribe found in “pension” folder 

When Russian authorities searched Tambiev’s apartment in Moscow, they found an Apple MacBook Pro. Authorities successfully hacked into the laptop several months later and discovered a folder named “Pension.” It contained keys that granted access to two online wallets holding 932.1 and 100 bitcoin. 

Authorities seized the bitcoin and transferred it to an address located on a Ledger Nano X hardware wallet before placing it in evidence. 

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Authorities justified the seizure of Tambiev’s “pension” by calculating that throughout his years working as a Russian investigator, he received little more than 11.7 million rubles ($144,000). The deputy prosecutor general claimed that the Russian’s possession of bitcoin worth 1.6 billion rubles ($26.5 million) “indicates the receipt of property from sources not provided for by law.”

Tambiev denies any role in the alleged corruption and has sued the ICR, seeking to be reinstated and compensated for his time out of work. He claims that the alleged crime has yet to be proven in court, meaning any corruption allegations are unfounded. However, his appeal was dismissed after a departmental audit backed up evidence of his alleged corruption.

His next court appearance is on Monday where prosecutors will reportedly seek to confiscate his bitcoin.

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