Alfred Koch faces no Interpol notice on smuggling charges

Alfred Koch faces no Interpol notice on smuggling charges
Alfred Koch

Interpol special commission has established that the items seized in attempted export abroad cannot be considered as objects of cultural heritage, and the estimated damage is insignificant to view the crime as international.

Interpol refused to issue a red notice for Russia’s former deputy prime minister Alfred Koch. All information has been deleted from the databases, stated a letter of the organization’s general secretariat dated March 21, 2017. Any operational cooperation with Russian law enforcement agencies on Koch’s lawsuit will violate Interpol’s rules, RBC reported.

We should remind that in December 2015, Alfred Koch was arrested in absentia at the request of the FSB investigator for particularly important cases. He was accused of Smuggling cultural property (part 1 of Art. 226.1 of the Criminal Code). Previously, Russian law enforcement agencies applied to Interpol, but the International Criminal Police Organization, acting pursuant to the Interpol special commission, decided not to issue a red notice for Koch. Late January 2017 saw the commission estimating the amount of damage as insignificant for an international crime. Besides, experts had doubts whether the items seized could actually be considered cultural heritage.

According to the Russian investigators, Alfred Koch tried to illegally export a 1911 painting by Isaak Brodsky from Russia to Germany in 2014. Its estimated value was 342.4 thousand rubles ($6.000).

However, according to the ex-official himself, he was convinced that he had bought a decent copy by an unknown contemporary painter and declared it for 18.000 rubles ($312.74). According to Alhas Abgadzhava, a lawyer, Tretyakov Gallery experts found that the canvas was not by Brodsky. Koch also transported the statue called Ancient Warrior with Sword, a vase and four volumes of The Great Reform of 1861-1911 gift edition. The Ministry of Culture should authorize export of art objects, which they did not do in Koch’s case. Nevertheless, Koch insists that it was an administrative offense rather than a criminal one.

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