Ex-Minister of Finance of Moscow region charged with $205mn fraud

Ex-Minister of Finance of Moscow region charged with $205mn fraud
Aleksey Kuznetsov

Russia has sought the extradition of Aleksey Kuznetsov from France for more than 5 years.

The ICR has formally charged the former Minister of Finance of the Moscow Region, Aleksey Kuznetsov, who was extradited from France the day before, according to the ICR website.

The ICR accuses Kuznetsov of fraud, money laundering, criminal proceeds and embezzlement (Article 159 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, Article 174.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, Article 160 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation).

According to investigators, in 2005-2008, Kuznetsov, who served as finance minister of the Moscow region, and his first deputy, Valery Nosov, organized a criminal group, after which they purchased from Moscow enterprises providing services in the housing and utilities sector, the debts of other enterprises that did not pay to public utilities.

Also, as a result of the sale and purchase transaction of ordinary registered uncertified shares of Rosweb company owned by Mosobltrastinvest and the implementation of the third series of bonds of the Moscow Regional Mortgage Agency, the accomplices committed theft of funds, the criminal case materials say.

In addition, the defendants were engaged in the legalization of illegally obtained income, directing the received money to offshore companies and acquiring elite real estate objects in Switzerland and France, expensive cars and other property by means of fictitious transactions, according to the investigation. As a result, the total amount of damage from the actions of Kuznetsov and his associates amounted to 14 billion rubles ($206 mln).

In December last year, the Basmanny Court of Moscow issued sentences to other persons involved in the case. Kuznetsov's deputy Valery Nosov was sentenced to 14 years in prison. Former director general of the Moscow Regional Investment Trust Company Vladislav Telepnev received 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of 1 million rubles ($15,000), Elena Kuznetsova – 7 years in prison.

Kuznetsov’s extradition from France to Russia has been sought since 2013 and only recently the former minister (2000-2008) was detained by French law enforcement officers and extradited to his homeland. On Thursday, the Chairman of the ICR Alexander Bastrykin devoted a post to this event on his page on Vkontakte, promising to “sort out this issue in full scale” with Kuznetsov and his associates.

It is worth noting that Kuznetsov’s wife, a US citizen Zhanna Bulakh, in January 2018 was sentenced in absentia to 11 years in prison for embezzling 11 billion rubles ($162 mln) from the budget of the Moscow Region. At the same time, the court confiscated a part of her property – two apartments in Switzerland, an apartment in Paris, a villa in Saint-Tropez, 10 cars, a hotel in Courchevel and some valuable things.

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