PARIS, January 31 - RAPSI. Exiled Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky may be charged with money laundering in Marseilles, France. A Marseilles prosecutor has completed an investigation into the case and has requested a court hearing, the newspaper La Provence wrote on Wednesday.
According to the paper, an investigator in Marseilles said during a videoconference with London on June 20, 2011, that they are opening a case against Berezovsky. The oligarch is suspected of having laundered huge sums of money by buying three luxury properties on the Cap d'Antibes, including Chateau Clocher de la Garoupe, which he bought from Francis Bouygues for EUR 13 million on July 31, 1997.
The Marseilles legal authorities have uncovered a network of offshore companies connected to Berezovsky and have arrested EUR 74 million of property and monetary funds in the course of the investigation.
Judge Thierry Azema will read the materials before taking a decision on whether to start court proceedings against Berezovsky.
Russian law-enforcement agencies investigated the oligarch in the latter half of the 1990s as part of a high-profile scandal that involved Swiss company Andava, which Berezovsky, one of its majority shareholders, allegedly used to embezzle money from the state-controlled airline Aeroflot.
In 2007, the Savyolovsky District Court in Moscow tried Berezovsky in absentia and sentenced him to six years for embezzling RUB 215 million (over $7 million) from Russia's largest air carrier.
Russian law-enforcers also hope to make Berezovsky pay over RUB 60 billion ($2 billion), which he allegedly embezzled from AvtoVAZ, Russias largest car manufacturer. In June 2009, a court handed down a 13-year sentence to Berezovsky and Yuly Dubov, who has also found refuge in the UK. Berezovsky has been granted political asylum in the UK. The Russian authorities have repeatedly requested his extradition, but Britain has not acceded to their request.