France releases former Moscow region Financial Minister Alexey Kuznetsov from custody
The court found that the period of detention of the former official exceeded "reasonable timeframes".
The Court of Appeal of Lyon released former Minister of Finance of the Moscow region Alexey Kuznetsov from custody. According to AFP, the court made such a decision since the period of detention of the former official detained in Saint Tropez in 2013 exceeded the "reasonable timeframe" defined by the European Convention on Human Rights.
The agency notes that after the release from the Lyon prison, Kuznetsov will move to Paris, where he will be under police surveillance by means of an electronic bracelet. The former minister is obliged to hand his passport over to the authorities, and also to report weekly to the police.
In 2011 Alexey Kuznetsov was charged in Russia with absentee swindling charges amounting to 10 billion rubles ($177.5m). A year later the Russian side issued an arrest warrant for Kuznetsov, after which the French police detained him on the Cote d’Azur. Since then Russia has sought his extradition. In March 2015 the French Court of Cassation satisfied the request of Russia. However the decision was not executed, as the French government has not signed the relevant decree yet. Kuznetsov's lawyers say that their client will be in jeopardy in case of extradition.
Alexey Kuznetsov held the post of Minister of Finance of the Moscow region from 2000 to 2008. According to the investigation, from November 2005 to November 2008 an organized group led by Kuznetsov bought by deceit the right to claim liabilities of municipal entities of the Moscow region for over 3.5 billion rubles ($62m) from a number of housing and utilities companies. Subsequently the money was legalized and appropriated by them. Then it became known that members of the criminal group also committed the theft of property of Mosobltransinvest CJSC in the amount of 7.2 billion rubles ($127m).
The city police detained two officers of the Russian FSB and the deputy chief of the Internal Affairs Directorate for the North-East Administrative District Department of the Interior Ministry of Russia for Moscow, who are suspected of bribe-taking.