Russia Today President Facing Prison for Tax Fraud

Alexei Iazlovsky pleaded guilty to tax fraud last July

April 1, 2014

The president and owner of RTTV America is facing up to three years in prison for federal tax fraud after he admitted to cooking the books for the Washington-based Russian news channel by filing over $1 million in phony corporate tax deductions.

RTTV America president Alexei Iazlovsky pleaded guilty to submitting false tax returns, a felony, last July. However, his role at the Russian news outlet has not been reported until now.

According to his plea agreement, Iazlovsky transferred over $1 million from RTTV America, Inc. to companies controlled by his personal accountant, diverted $2.6 million in income to an undeclared bank account in Luxembourg, and filed false individual and corporate tax returns between 2002 and 2010.

Iazlovsky, a Russian-born businessman who now resides in Maryland, continues to serve as president of RTTV America, according to corporate records reviewed by the Washington Free Beacon. He is also described as the company’s owner in court documents.

RT America business manager Roman Tokman told the Washington Free Beacon that the RT America news channel is unrelated to RTTV America, Inc.

"Alex Yazlovsky is not the President of the RT America channel," said Tokman. "Alex is the President of RTTV America, Inc. a production [sic] based in Washington DC."

When asked for clarification on the relationship between RT America and RTTV America, Tokman said, "RTTV America, Inc. is a video production company providing services such as video content, transmission, crew services and studio facilities. It is a District of Columbia corporation. These services are sold to a company in Russia that runs RT including the RT America channel."

However, a W-2 federal tax form provided to the Washington Free Beacon by a RT America editorial employee showed that the staffer was employed by RTTV America, Inc.

Corporate filings for RTTV America, Inc. show that it is located at the same addresses as RT America’s four U.S.-based bureaus in Washington, D.C., New York, Florida, and California.

The Washington Free Beacon was unable to reach Iazlovsky, and his lawyer declined comment.

Current and former RT America staffers told the Washington Free Beacon that Iazlovsky serves as president of the news organization and occasionally comes into its headquarters on G Street in Washington, D.C.

The court documents state that on December 29, 2008, RTTV America funneled $245,000 to Sedy Systems, LLC., a company owned by Iazlovsky’s accountant Nadav Kalai.

"These two payments were made to create false booking entries that would support false deductions on RTTV America’s tax return," said the plea agreement. "Sedy Systems provided no services or goods to RTTV America."

Sedy Systems later wired the money to "a Russian client" of Iazlovski’s, which sent the funds to another company controlled by Iazlovski called RTTV Studios, LLC.

Iazlovsky and his accountant conducted a similar scheme on December 15, 2009, with Iazlovsky wiring $900,000 to a company controlled by his accountant. The money was to be wired back to RTTV America at a later date so that the media company could dodge end-of-year corporate taxes.

"The scheme was devised to create a paper trail to support a $900,000 false deduction on RTTV America’s tax return," said the plea agreement.

Iazlovski’s sentencing hearing before the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California Western Division is scheduled for June.

His looming court date comes at a difficult time for the Russian-controlled news outlet, which has been criticized for pushing pro-Kremlin propaganda and was recently rocked by the on-air resignation of one of its high-profile anchors.

RT America anchor Liz Wahl quit on live television at the end of her 5 p.m. show in early March, citing her disgust with the news channel’s defense of the Russian government’s invasion and annexation of Crimea.

"I’m very lucky to have grown up here in the United States. I’m the daughter of a veteran. My partner is a physician at a military base where he sees every day the first-hand accounts of the ultimate prices that people pay for this country," said Wahl. "And that is why personally I cannot be part of a network that whitewashes the actions of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin."

Wahl’s resignation came months after another high-profile incident at RT when journalist James Kirchick was kicked off the network on-air for criticizing the Russian government’s anti-gay laws.

BuzzFeed recently reported on the internal conflicts at the news outlet, where staffers said they were censored and pressured to promote pro-Kremlin propaganda.

Published under: Russia