A crafty Russian cop found living in a palatial home with a golden loo has been allowed to keep it after a court ruled it really belonged to his girlfriend.
Judges decided that most of the property seized from disgraced former police Colonel Alexei Safonov in a corruption investigation should be returned.
Safonov – once head of the Stavropol region traffic police – had claimed that many objects in his lavish home actually belonged to relatives.
One was the spectacular golden lavatory pictured in the bathroom of his luxury residence.
Safonov was accused of running a huge corruption ring soaking drivers and commercial truckers for bribes.
But in the end, Russian officials confiscated only RUB 40 million (GBP 337,500) after he failed to explain how he managed to end up with so much money given what he was paid as a salary.
The decision by the court was slammed by many, including Dmitry Krasnov, Chairman of the Board of the Moscow Bar Association.
He said the decision was taken by the Stavropol court and dismissed it saying” “You scratch my back and I will scratch yours.”
He said: “These houses can’t be that cheap. From my point of view, the examination of the value of these houses was carried out in a biased way, their price was underestimated, and the court did not take any action to check the valuation of the property.
“Only 40 million will be recovered from the convict, and the houses will remain the property of him and his family. I think it’s unfair, illegal and unreasonable. “
Safonov was fired in July 2021 after he was accused of corruption together with 35 other police officers from his force.
Russian politician Alexander Khinshtein said at the time that the arrest of the top cop together with the others indicated that “a real Mafia was operating in the region”.
The police colonel had been in charge of the traffic police department for the Stavropol Territory since 2012.
The arrests were made by the Federal Security Service (FSB) targeting officers in the Stavropol area who were detained on charges of organised criminal activity, according to Khinshtein, who said the images of the two-storey mansion and its luxury interior were proof of corruption.
He said the cops were charged with accepting bribes and abuse of authority among other allegations.
He added: “In fact, a real Mafia was operating in the Stavropol Territory, profiting from everything from passing on criminals numbers through to approving the passage of heavy trucks on local roads and even trading in the sand.”
Alleged scams included the issuing of transport passes to allow the grain to be moved unhindered, and the criminal gang of police officers allegedly received RUB 20 million (GBP 197,000).
The pictures of the mansion included opulent chandeliers, palatial windows and ornate walls, and even the bathroom toilet and sink were trimmed with real gold.
There are also marble staircases, intricately carved doors, and inlaid parquet, and the ceilings include stucco and frescoes.
In the end, the court accepted that property valued at RUB 82.3 million (GBP 697,000) was owned by the man’s common-law wife Alena Psel.
And property worth almost RUB 70 million (GBP 591,000) was owned by Lidia Gubareva, Alena’s mother.
The mansion with a golden toilet was immediately transferred to their children after the arrest of the head of the traffic police.
The prosecutors did not explain why they believe that he personally bought and used the seized property.
In addition, his lawyers insisted that it was illegal to seize objects from the suspect’s family before the verdict.