MOSCOW, July 20 (RAPSI) – Alexei Kuznetsov, the former Moscow Region finance minister, is suspected of embezzling over 14 billion rubles ($246.3mn) with accomplices, Kommersant newspaper reported on Monday, citing Investigative Committee official Alexander Filin.

“To date, we have estimated damages of over 14 billion rubles ($246.3mn), but I can tell you that this is not the final tally, because the investigation into Kuznetsov’s and his accomplices’ activities is ongoing,” investigator Alexander Filin said.

According to investigators, from November 2005 to November 2008, a group organized by Kuznetsov deceived several housing and utility companies into selling it over 3.5 billion rubles’ ($109mn) worth of claims against the Moscow Region’s municipal authorities. The group laundered and misappropriated the money. The group is also alleged to have embezzled an estimated 7.2 billion rubles ($224mn) 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.