'Mafia whistleblower' claims Scot Young, Boris Berezovsky and John Palmer were killed by same men
AN ACCOUNTANT who claims to have turned "supergrass" after getting tied up in Tenerife's murky timeshare world claims in a new book that Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky and British associate Scot Young were murdered by the same people. Former offshore accountant Paul Blanchard (above) claims the same "Bulgarian assassination team," allegedly hired by Russian Mafia, was also responsible for the unsolved murder of Brinks-Mat gangster John "Goldfinger" Palmer, because of Russian organised crime involvement in Tenerife timeshare operations.
Berezovsky, 67, (above) a vocal critic of Vladamir Putin, was found in March 2013 apparently hanged with a ligature round 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.
Young, 52, (above) who is said to have helped Berezovsky launder money, died after plunging onto railings below his £3m fourth-floor London flat in December 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, as did an inquest in July 2015 that heard he was suffering mental health problems, but 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, went on to conclude they were all non suspicious.
A Met Police spokesman said: "Scot Young's death was thoroughly investigated by police, and his death was deemed as non-suspicious.
"An inquest in Mr Young’s death was conducted, and Met officers assisted and gave evidence at that inquest. In 2015 the coroner recorded a narrative verdict." Essex Police continues to investigate Palmer (above's) murder, after he was shot dead in the garden of his Essex home in June 2015, and believes his involvement in timeshare fraud and an upcoming Spanish prosecution was a likely motive for his killing.
Mr Blanchard, 76, from York (above left with Mohamed Jamil Derbah), says he set up tax avoidance schemes for a timeshare operation launched by Mohamed Jamil Derbah, 57, a former associate of Palmer, from 2000. He said he became an "informant" for Spanish police intelligence after later approached them with concerns about the legalities of the scheme. This July, he avoided extradition to Spain, where he was wanted for money laundering offences in connection with an alleged multi-million timeshare fraud with Mr Derbah named as the mastermind in the European Arrest Warrant. Mr Derbah vehemently denies the allegations and has never been charged since a high-profile arrest in 2001 after Mr Blanchard went to police. The Court of Appeal discharged the extradition request after Mr Blanchard produced evidence he said showed he was "hung out to dry" by the Spanish police after he "blew his cover" while doing subsequent undercover work for them providing intelligence on major fraudsters and terrorist financiers wanting offshore services.
You can listen to alleged recordings Mr Blanchard says he made of phone calls between himself and Spanish police intelligence officers here and here.
The court heard Spanish police asked Blanchard (above outside court) to handover all his files on the timeshare business, while continuing his offshore work with other unconnected clients and reporting back on any potential criminal activity. His book charts how he became an offshore accountant in Marbella and Tenerife, to set up tax avoidance schemes for the wealthy. This led to him "inadvertently" setting up businesses and accounts for people linked to alleged Mafia networks across the globe, including Russia, the Lebanon, Pakistan, Spain, the UK and Ireland, he claims. Mr Blanchard claims one of his other clients was a wealthy Russian with links to the Kremlin security services. The Russian Mafia became prominent on Tenerife as various crime groups vied for control of the timeshare business after Palmer was jailed for timeshare fraud in 2001, but continued to run his own operation from prison. Mr Blanchard claims this brought him into contact with people who invested in Project Moscow, a failed multi-million pound Russian property venture Young was involved in. He wrote in the book (below): "Through my consultancy, I met several men familiar with Scot Young and his controversial 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 and hiding the money in offshore accounts. "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 powerful allies in Russia.
"My intelligence sources confirmed that Young was defenestrated by Bulgarian hitmen on the order of senior figures within Moscow’s brutal underworld. "My own Moscow sources have suggested that (Berezovsky), too, was the victim of the same Bulgarian assassins." Mr Blanchard said he had "scrutinised accounts for Project Moscow" and "Young lost his fortune after he diverted money from the British Virgin Islands to a Cypriot bank." He added: The cash was then confiscated by influential figures in Moscow." Mr Blanchard also claims in his book that Young knew Palmer, and asked him for protection from the Russian Mafia. He wrote: "John Palmer was among the many business associates of (Young and Berezovsky). "‘Goldfinger’ is believed to have met Young when the property developer sought protection from UK-based gangsters with their links to Russia. "The gangster borrowed heavily from Russian associates, hoping to make a new fortune, but his plans perished when he was imprisoned in the UK. "While in prison, he remained heavily in debt to his Russian contacts, who are more ruthless and cold-blooded villains than those Palmer was used to dealing with. "Detectives are looking into Palmer’s business associates and 'his links to organised crime.' "That could take them a while, but I know where I would start. The City is situated on the Moskva River in the Central Federal District of European Russia." Asked what he meant, he told Essex News and Investigations: "My sources named who killed Palmer, and said it was the same people who killed Young and Berezovsky." An Essex Police spokesman said: "As with any unsolved murder, our investigation into the murder of 65-year-old John Palmer remains open. "Mr Palmer, 65, was at his home in Sandpit Lane, South Weald in Brentwood on Wednesday, June 24, 2015, when he was murdered. "Anyone with information about Mr Palmer’s murder can contact Essex Police on 101 or Crimestoppers 100% anonymously on 0800 555 111.”