Moscow Region ex-official Kuznetsov’s assets seized in France
MOSCOW, July 14 (RAPSI) – French authorities have seized assets in the value of €120 million belonging to former Moscow Region finance minister Alexey Kuznetsov and his ex-wife Janna Bullock, who are currently under investigation in Russia, the Prosecutor General’s Office of Russia announced on its website on Friday.
Specifically, furnished apartment with art objects in Paris, villa in Saint-Tropez and hotels in Courchevel have fallen under the seizure, the statement reads.
Russian investigators claim that from November 2005 to November 2008, a group organized by Kuznetsov deceived several housing and utility companies into selling the rights to over 3.5 billion rubles’ worth of claims ($59 mln at the current exchange rate) against the Moscow Region municipal authorities. The group laundered and misappropriated the money. The group members are also alleged to have embezzled 7.2 billion rubles ($121 mln) in assets from Mosobltransinvest, a Moscow regional investment company.
According to investigation, damage caused by Kuznetsov and his alleged accomplices is estimated at 14 billion rubles ($234.5 million).
Former Russian official was placed first on the federal and subsequently on the international wanted list in November 2012 on suspicion of fraud, money laundering, and embezzlement.
The search for Kuznetsov gathered momentum after Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin met with the French police chief in January 2013.
In the summer of 2013, Kuznetsov was arrested at a hotel near the prestigious French resort of St. Tropez. Nevertheless, the French judiciary has so far failed to extradite him to Russia. Kuznetsov’s lawyers claim the criminal prosecution in Russia is politically motivated.
In January 2015, Kuznetsov filed an application seeking political asylum, but it was dismissed by the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless people (OFPRA). His defense appealed the decision claiming that it was politically motivated.
In March 2015, the French Court of Cassation granted Russia’s request for Kuznetsov’s extradition. However, the ruling has not been executed yet.
In April 2017, a court in Lyon released Kuznetsov from jail. The French court held that the period of his detention had exceeded the reasonable time in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. Since then, he has been under surveillance of police. Former Russian official is obliged to report to the police once a week. He also was ordered to surrender his passport to the authorities.