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Berezovski fails to block money-laundering investigation

Boris Berezovski faces prosecution after losing his appeal to prevent Swiss-Russian cooperation Keystone

The Russian authorities are to receive documents potentially damaging to the business tycoon, Boris Berezovski, following a ruling on a massive money-laundering case by Switzerland's highest court.

Berezovski on Monday failed to block a Swiss-Russian money-laundering investigation, in which he is implicated. The Federal Court also refused to lift a freeze on his bank accounts.

The ruling means that Russia’s special investigator, Nikolai Volkov, will receive hundreds of documents when he visits Switzerland on Wednesday. A spokesman for the Swiss federal prosecutor’s office said Volkov would be given 200 files out of about 600 relating to an embezzlement case.

Berezovski had attempted to stop Swiss-Russian cooperation over the Aeroflot case, which involves two Swiss-based firms. Berezovski was closely associated with both the companies.

The decision could lead to charges being brought against Berezovski in Russia. Russian prosecutors suspect him of embezzling $700 million (SFr1.16 billion) from the airline, Aeroflot.

His resignation from parliament last week stripped him of immunity from prosecution. An investigation against him was suspended last year, but has not been closed.

Berezovski had urged the court to block Switzerland’s legal assistance to Russia on the grounds that the Russian investigation breached human rights. He also claimed Aeroflot did not suffer any damage.

The judges rejected his arguments. They ruled that although the human rights situation in Russia was not perfect, Berezovski had not put forward any evidence to suggest the investigation went against the European Convention on Human Rights.

They also said he could not realistically claim to be the target of a political vendetta by the Russian government.

The Federal Court recently rejected appeals against Switzerland’s legal assistance with Russia by two Swiss-based companies involved in the affair, Andava and Forus.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR