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Swiss prosecutor attacks Russia over handling of corruption case

Bernard Bertossa heads the Swiss investigation into the Mabetex affair.

(Keystone / AP Photo / Donald Stampfli)

A top Swiss prosecutor has accused Russian justice officials of double standards in their handling of a major corruption investigation centring on two Swiss firms.

Geneva's chief prosecutor, Bernard Bertossa, was reacting to an announcement from Russia on Wednesday that it was dropping a two-year-old probe into whether the Swiss firms had paid kickbacks to senior Kremlin officials in return for lucrative contracts.

In an interview published by the Russian newspaper, "Segodnya" on Friday, Bertossa said Russia had closed the case for political reasons. He said it was clear that one official implicated in the scandal, Pavel Borodin, retained close links with the Russian government.

He added that the Russian justice authorities were continuing energetically to pursue cases of financial crime against Kremlin critics, such as the media baron, Vladimir Gusinsky.

"In my view, a double standard of jurisprudence has been established: one for friends, one for opponents," Bertossa said.

He also accused Russian justice officials of being unwilling to cooperate with Switzerland.

Bertossa has been trying to uncover evidence that Kremlin officials used the Ticino-based companies, Mabetex and Mercata, as a front for channelling millions of dollars in bribes. He said on Thursday he would continue his efforts, despite the Russian decision to close the case.

swissinfo with agencies

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