A single mother who helped her corrupt banker brother launder more than £2 million in bribes has been spared jail to look after her children – after falling pregnant again.
Tatjana Sanderson, 39, who is expecting her fourth child, let Channel Island accounts in her name be used to bank the money for Anglo-Russian sibling Andrey Ryjenko,
Last June Ryjenko, 45, was jailed for six years after he was convicted of taking backhanders while working for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
Sanderson last month pleaded guilty to concealing, converting or transferring criminal property between September 2007 and March 2010, following a long-running bribery case which led to convictions in Britain and the United States.
The Old Bailey heard the laundered money has been seized and remains in bank accounts, having not been touched by Sanderson, who lives in her parents’ multimillion pound flat near Hyde Park.
Judge Nicholas Cooke QC told Sanderson she would have been jailed immediately had she benefited financially from her crime.
But he handed her a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years, on Tuesday, after saying: “Corruption in the financial world and the world of banking is something upon which the criminal justice system needs to make war because it is such a devastating problem in many, many ways.
“It strikes at the fabric of society.
“However, we do not make war on small children and in this case that is what in some ways I would be doing, were I to send her immediately to prison.”
Sanderson broke down in tears in the dock as the judge detailed how her baby daughter was diagnosed with cancer in October 2015 before receiving years of distressing treatment.
“Children with cancer need their parents to be fully committed for this extremely stressful period,” the judge continued.
“There is a significant chance of relapse over the next few years and so this will prove a stressful time for the family.”
He added: “You have become pregnant again, so were I to send you to prison there would be additional suffering.”
Judge Cooke said that some may say “she got pregnant deliberately to take advantage of the judge’s potential mercy”.
But he added: “I know better,” having seen a doctor’s report that she conceived after a contraceptive device had been fitted.
At the time of the offences, Ryjenko was employed in a role which required him to consider equity investment and loan applications from firms.
The court heard he accepted more than 3.5 million dollars (then worth just over £2 million) in return for approving loans for Dmitrij Harder, then principal owner of Chestnut Consulting Group, based in Southampton, Pennsylvania, in the United States.
Their plot was formulated after financial consultant Harder revealed his company had been retained by a Russian-based oil firm to obtain project financing in September 2007.
Ryjenko seized the opportunity to abuse his position and make money corruptly by directing his employer’s potential clients to instruct Harder as a financial consultant in exchange for a share of the hefty fees.
Bogus business cards were produced for Sanderson to convince her bank the funds were legitimate payments for work carried out for Chestnut as the funds were funnelled into her accounts.
City of London Police were alerted in February 2010 by the chief compliance officer at the EBRD, after an anonymous tip-off sparked an internal investigation.
Ryjenko was jailed for six years after being convicted of conspiring to make or accept corrupt payments and transferring criminal property following a five-week trial at the Old Bailey.
Sanderson, who developed mental health issues, had been declared unfit to stand trial but the jury decided she was involved in the corruption as a matter of fact.
Meanwhile in the US, Harder, the former owner and president of Chestnut Consulting Group Inc, was jailed for five years for bribery.
Harder, 45, of Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, had pleaded guilty in April 2016 to two counts of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
In sentencing, US District Judge Paul Diamond ordered Harder to forfeit 1.9 million dollars (£1.4 million).
Crown Prosecution Service prosecutor Elspeth Pringle said: “Tatjana Sanderson knew the millions of pounds she was storing in these bank accounts was taken through corrupt payments made to Ryjenko at his banking job.
“Sanderson took the money to distance her brother’s involvement in the corruption.
“The CPS showed in court the extent of the corrupt payments made to Ryjenko and how the money was then followed to Sanderson’s accounts to secure this guilty verdict.”