Swiss extradite Russian businessman accused of USD 400m shipping fraud
Switzerland has extradited a Russian businessman accused of defrauding his country of USD 400 million.1 July 2008
BERN - Switzerland has extradited a Russian businessman accused of defrauding his country of CHF 408 million (USD 400 million), the Justice Ministry said Monday.
Yuri Privalov was handed over to Russia following an 18-month legal battle that ended with his appeal against extradition being dismissed earlier this month by the European Court of Human Rights.
Russian authorities have been trying to extradite Privalov since his arrest in Zurich in December 2006.
The case is part of a larger campaign that has seen lawsuits filed in British civil courts against 29 defendants, including 26 companies.
Privalov and several co-defendants are accused of inflicting millions of dollars in damage to the state-owned shipping company OAO Sovkomflot between 2001 and 2005 by leasing out ocean freighters at below market rates.
Sovkomflot operates one of the world's largest merchant fleets, with about 60 vessels. It was merged last summer with Russia's other big shipping corporation.
As head of the shipping agency's London office, Privalov was responsible for buying and selling freighters for the fleet.
Privalov claims he is being persecuted for political reasons, and the Swiss Federal Court in Lausanne ruled in December that he could not be extradited without a guarantee that his human rights would be safeguarded.
Switzerland says it has since received the necessary guarantees from Russia to allow for Privalov's extradition.
In a statement announcing Privalov had arrived in Moscow, the Russian Prosecutor General's office said he is accused of fraud and money laundering committed as part of an organised crime group.
He allegedly laundered criminal proceeds by investing them into Russia's oil and construction industries, issuing loans and buying stock.
[AP / Expatica]