'I know who killed John Palmer and will name them,' says ex-accountant to 'Goldfinger' henchman
EXCLUSIVE: A FORMER accountant to the underworld has named the "eastern European hit squad " he claims was behind the mysterious deaths of Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky and millionaire property developer Scot Young and the unsolved murder of John “Goldfinger” Palmer (above left). Paul Blanchard (above right), was an offshore advisor to Palmer's former right-hand man Mohamed Jamil Derbah, before becoming a Spanish police informant.
He claimed in a book published in 2021 that Berezovsky and Young were also murdered and by the same Bulgarian assassination team he believes allegedly shot dead Palmer in the garden of his Essex home in June 2015. Now, in a revised hardback version of the book he has provided more details including the name of the alleged hit squad, which he claims is composed of three brothers.
Although he stopped short of naming the three brothers themselves, he wrote: "These Bulgarian assassins, three brothers known in Moscow as Nia Sofiya Tri (The Sofia Three) carry out assassinations on orders from high-level Russian Mafia groups. "They have specialist skills in administering deadly and untraceable poisons and never leave any trace or evidence.
"They live in Moscow, travel the world on assignments, and have Moldovan passports. "When instructed to shoot a target - as in the case of John Palmer, they execute military style planning that leaves police forces across the globe baffled by the wall of secrecy surrounding their identity. Blanchard claims Young and Berezovsky were killed because of a failed multi-million-pound Russian property venture dubbed Project Moscow. Mr Blanchard, who went on to become a police informant, says the Brink's-Mat gangster Palmer was killed because of Russian organised crime involvement in Tenerife timeshare scams that he set up. He claims to also know the individual names of the alleged three brothers and has vowed to go public with them at some point alongside recordings he made of his time as an informant that he is also releasing.
Berezovsky, 67, (above) a vocal critic of Vladimir Putin, was found in 2013 with a ligature around his neck in the Surrey mansion he had bought from Young, with the subsequent inquest recording an open verdict. Surrey Police had found no evidence of third-party involvement, and the coroner said: “I am not saying Mr Berezovsky took his own life, I am not saying Mr Berezovsky was unlawfully killed. What I am saying is that the burden of proof sets such a high standard it is impossible for me to say.” Young, 52, who is said to have helped Berezovsky launder money, died after plunging on to railings below his £3m London flat in 2014, after telling police and friends several times that hitmen with links to Moscow wanted him dead. He had earlier been declared bankrupt following Russian property investment deals. The Met Police ruled it a non-suspicious death. So too did an inquest in July 2015 that heard Young (below) was suffering with mental health problems. It found there was insufficient evidence for a suicide verdict.
There have long been suspicions the pair were murdered, with theories their deaths were made to look like suicides. A 2018 Met Police and MI5 review of the cases and 12 other deaths of people connected to Russia, carried out in the wake of the Novichok attacks on Sergei and Yulia Skripal in 2018, went on to conclude that they were all non-suspicious. Essex Police continues to investigate Palmer’s murder, after he was shot dead in the garden of his Brentwood home in June 2015. They believe his involvement in timeshare fraud and an upcoming and now concluded Spanish prosecution was a likely motive for his killing. But in his new hardback version of Wanted: Secrets of a Mafia Whistleblower, Mr Blanchard claims that all three men were murdered by the same team. In it, the 77-year-old from York, details how he became an offshore accountant in Marbella and Tenerife, to set up tax avoidance schemes for the wealthy. He claims this led to him “inadvertently” setting up businesses and accounts for people linked to alleged Mafia networks across the globe.... before he turned whistleblower for the Spanish authorities after spotting potential huge frauds. he set up The Russian Mafia became prominent on Tenerife as various crime groups vied for control of the timeshare business after Palmer was jailed for fraud in 2001. Mr Blanchard claims his offshore work brought him into contact with people who invested in Project Moscow, which, he says, Young was involved in. He wrote: “I met several men familiar with Scot Young and his dealings in Moscow. Young and Berezovsky were involved in numerous deals together, including the ill-fated Project Moscow. Powerful Russians feared that Project Moscow was a scam and that Young and others were skimming profits from investors. Several of my intelligence contacts have suggested that Young was, by this time, way out of his depth. He also knew that Berezovsky’s involvement in Project Moscow would anger Putin and his allies in Russia. My intelligence sources confirmed that Young was defenestrated by Bulgarian hitmen on the order of senior figures in Moscow’s brutal underworld. My sources suggest [Berezovsky], too, was the victim of the same Bulgarian assassins.” Mr Blanchard said Young “lost his fortune after diverting money from the British Virgin Islands to a Cypriot bank”. He also claims Young knew Palmer and asked for protection from the Russian Mafia. He wrote: “John Palmer was among the many business associates of [Young and Berezovsky]. Palmer borrowed heavily from Russian associates, hoping to make a new fortune, but his plans perished when he was jailed. While in prison he remained heavily in debt to his Russian contacts, who are more ruthless and cold-blooded villains than those Palmer had previously experienced.” An Essex Police spokesperson said: “As with any unsolved murder, our investigation into the murder of John Palmer remains open.” However, the force does not appear to be interested in Mr Blanchard's claims as it has yet to speak to him more than a year after the force was alerted to the book first coming out. It is focussing its inquiry on an eastern European lone hitman from another country who was in the country at the time of Palmer's death. The force is working on a theory that the Dubai-based Kinahan cartel, which originated in Ireland, arranged the murder on behalf of a former associate of Palmer using the hitman who had been previously hired by them. Wanted: Secrets of a Mafia Whistleblower, is available now.