MOSCOW, August 21 (RAPSI) - The Russian Investigative Committee has sent requests to Switzerland, France, Cyprus and the US on freezing bank accounts and seizing the real property of the former Moscow Region finance minister Alexei Kuznetsov and that of his accomplices, the committee’s official spokesman Vladimir Markin announced on Friday.
“Investigators found that the criminal group caused damage to the state of over 14 billion rubles ($204 mln). The funds were transferred to the co-defendants’ accounts in Cyprus, France, Switzerland and the US,” Markin said.
Kuznetsov and his alleged accomplices used the money to buy two hotels in Courchevel and other property abroad. Money transfers were also recorded in favor of the companies purchasing lots at Sotheby’s.
Markin noted that the documents obtained by the Investigative Committee from abroad confirm the deals.
The spokesperson added that the investigators sent requests to Switzerland, France, Cyprus and the US to block the bank accounts and seize the property of the co-defendants. Specifically, these include two apartments in Gstaad (Switzerland) worth 10.5 million CHF as well as ten cars.
According to investigators, 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 ($51 mln) against the Moscow Region municipal authorities. The group laundered and misappropriated the money. The group is also alleged to have embezzled an estimated 7.2 billion rubles ($105 mln) in property from Mosobltransinvest, a Moscow regional investment company.
Kuznetsov 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.
Last summer, 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.