June 16 (Bloomberg) -- A former financial adviser to ousted leaders of Kyrgyzstan was sentenced to more than five years in prison for a $6 million fraud that his lawyer said caused an insider-trading prosecution to be aborted.
Eugene Gourevitch, a former friend and adviser to Maksim Bakiyev, the son of ex-Kyrgyzstan President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, was given a 63-month sentence today in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, for his role in a 2012 fraud involving a plan to buy shares in Facebook Inc.
The scheme came about while Gourevitch, 37, was cooperating with a U.S. a probe into the younger Bakiyev, his lawyer, Marc Agnifilo, said in court today. That case, stretching to Europe and Central Asia, was dropped last year without explanation from prosecutors.
Gourevitch stole money from Maksim Bakiyev by falsely promising to invest it in Facebook at the same time he was working with the U.S. in its case, Agnifilo said today in court.
“This case is essentially about him screwing up as a cooperator,” Agnifilo told U.S. District Judge Allyne R. Ross. “Ninety percent of what he did was good.”
At the sentencing hearing, Agnifilo also told the judge his client, a U.S. citizen, had endured a “bizarre” series of events starting from the time of the 2010 coup that ousted the Bakiyevs, which left him fearing for his life.
Facing corruption accusations in Kyrgyzstan, Gourevitch volunteered to cooperate with the U.S. insider-trading investigation, Agnifilo said.
Prosecutors said in a letter filed with the court June 6 that Gourevitch had admitted in interviews in 2011 to engaging in a “conspiracy to invest in U.S. and foreign publicly traded stocks using material nonpublic information, such as information about upcoming mergers and quarterly earnings reports.”
While “under the thumb” of Maksim Bakiyev and managing his money, Gourevitch had access to “real, juicy, immediate, tangible” insider information, Agnifilo said.
Last year, the U.S. had tried to extradite the younger Bakiyev from the U.K., where he had been staying, to face trial on charges of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and obstruction of justice. The case was dropped in May 2013.
Arguing that Gourevitch wants to continue to work with the U.S. in investigations of allegations of corruption by the Bakiyev regime, Agnifilo argued that his client should get five years’ probation.
Ross rejected that request.
The crime at issue is of “unquestionable severity,” she said. Gourevitch “tricked an individual” as well as deceiving federal investigators, she said.
The criminal case is U.S. v. Gourevitch, 1:12-cr-00758, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).
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