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Switzerland helping Russia in Aeroflot corruption case

The Russian prosecutor general, Nikolai Volkov, will receive files in Switzerland. Keystone / Edi Engeler

Swiss officials are helping a Russian special investigator, Nikolai Volkov, probe allegations that the Russian business tycoon, Boris Berezovski may have laundered stolen money through two Swiss companies.

The purpose of Volkov’s visit is to take possession of a hoard of potentially incriminating documents, which could lead to criminal charges against Berezovski.

The tycoon is suspected of embezzling $700 million (SFr1.6 billion) from Russia’s national carrier, Aeroflot, and laundering the money through two Swiss financial services firms he helped create, Forus and Andava.

A spokesman for the Swiss federal prosecutor’s office, Jürg Blaser, told swissinfo Volkov would stay until Friday to receive the files and meet representatives from the prosecutor’s office and Swiss police.

“He will initially receive 200 files of original documents in connection with the Andava-Forus case. The rest – about 400 to 500 more folders – will be sent over at a later date once we have copied them,” Blaser said.

Russian media reported that a special transport aircraft might have to be sent to deliver the first batch of potentially explosive documents, weighing 600 kilogrammes. But Blaser declined to confirm this “for security reasons”.

The Swiss federal court on Monday rejected an attempt by Berezovski to block the release of documents and assets allegedly implicating him in the Aeroflot embezzlement case.

Two similar actions by former Aeroflot officials were also rebuffed by the court. On Wednesday, it threw out a bid to block legal assistance by a former commercial director of Aeroflot, Alexander Krasnenker, a day after it rejected an appeal by a former vice president of Aeroflot, Nikolai Glouchkov.

Berezovski is one of the founders of Forus and sat on Andava’s supervisory board until 1997.
The two companies have admitted doing business with Aeroflot but have denied all wrongdoing.

Last week, Berezovski announced his resignation from the Russian parliament, losing his immunity from prosecution

by Fiona Fleck

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR