Russian ‘crab king’ staged his own death – prosecutor

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Lawyers for fishing business magnate Oleg Kan are requesting that criminal cases against him be closed

Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office believes that the death of Oleg Kan – a businessman dubbed the ‘crab king’ – was faked so that he could avoid criminal prosecution, a spokesman for the service announced on Thursday. 

Kan founded several large fishing companies in Russia’s Far East Sakhalin Region, with his businesses mainly focusing on shrimp, crab, and other seafood. He was arrested in absentia in 2020 and placed on the international wanted list after being named as a prime suspect in the murder a decade earlier of businessman Valery Phidenko, who was also involved in crab fishing. In 2023, another four criminal cases were opened against Kan over accusations of smuggling, tax evasion, and customs duties. 

On March 19, Kan’s lawyers announced that he had died in the UK in February of last year, and insisted that the cases against him be closed. 

As reported by TASS, prosecutors said during an arbitration court meeting on Thursday that registry offices in Sakhalin Region and St. Petersburg, where Kan’s relatives apparently reside, have submitted identical notices claiming that the businessman’s death has not been officially registered. 

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Prosecutors noted that in the event of a person’s death, it is the obligation of their relatives or others aware of their passing to report it to the local registry office. “Therefore, the only legal confirmation of a person’s death is an entry in civil status acts. And in the absence of such records, we regard the claims that Kan has died as a staged act,” a representative for the Prosecutor General’s Office was quoted as saying. 

Kan’s lawyer, Oleg Sukhanov, told TASS that he had provided the court with his client’s death certificate and had tried to submit it to the registry office, which allegedly refused to accept it. 

“It is impossible to officially register [the death],” Sukhanov claimed, stating he is in possession of a UK-issued death certificate which has been translated into Russian and submitted to the court office. 

Later on Thursday, the Primorsky Territory Arbitration Court ultimately satisfied the state’s claims against Kan and several other defendants in a case on causing damage to “aquatic biological resources,” ordering the defendants to pay over 358.7 billion rubles, ($3.8 billion).

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