MOSCOW, March 17 (RAPSI) — Russia’s Investigative Committee has turned to Italian authrorities with a request to seize two villas belonging to the former Minister of the Open Government of Russia Mikhail Abyzov, the press service of the body reports.

A Russian court has ruled in favor of a petition submitted by investigators as to the seizure of the said property. Taking into account this decision, the Investigative Committee sends a request for legal assistance to the competent authorities of the Italian Republic with the aim of seizing the property of the accused abroad, according to the statement.

Basing on the information available to investigators, the total cost of the real estate in question makes about 2 billion rubles ($27.5 million at the current exchange rate). One of the villas was registered by Abyzov in the name of his son, the other formally belongs to an Italian company, the ultimate beneficiary of which is the former minister.

Abyzov is a defendant in a criminal case over embezzlement of 4 billion rubles (about $55 million) from two energy companies supplying electricity to Siberia.

Investigators believe that Abyzov acting as the beneficiary owner of several offshore companies organized a criminal group to steal 4 billion rubles (about $55 million) from Sibirskaya Energeticheskaya Kompaniya and Regionalnye Elektricheskiye Seti. Later, the embezzled funds were moved overseas.

The fact of legalization of money by Abyzov and other defendants was established thanks to effective interaction with Russian finance watchdog Rosfinmonitoring and with the assistance of the competent authorities of the Republic of Cyprus, the Investigative Committee informed earlier.