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Home News Switzerland probing Russian former vice minister for embezzlement

Switzerland probing Russian former vice minister for embezzlement

Published on 06/08/2015

Swiss authorities have been investigating a former Russian deputy agriculture minister suspected of embezzling some one billion rubles ($15.5 million, 14.3 million euros) in public funds, Switzerland's attorney general said Thursday.

In an email to AFP, the office of Switzerland’s top prosecutor confirmed reports it opened a probe against the former Russian politician — who it did not identify but who media named as Alexej Baschanow — in 2013 after a Swiss bank sounded the alarm over an account where some of the money had been placed.

The money had been siphoned from the state-owned Rosagroleasing company, which leases agricultural machinery and has itself been embroiled in a financial scandal in Russia, the attorney general’s office said.

According to a report by the Tages-Anzeiger and Der Bund dailies, Russian investigators suspect the former politician of using forged documents to request the cash to buy a sunflower oil production plant, which turned out not to exist.

The suspect reportedly distributed the money across several accounts, including in Switzerland.

The attorney general’s office said it had limited its investigation to analysing the accounts and businesses controlled by him and his family members in the wealthy Alpine country.

It had passed on its findings to Russian authorities, who had asked that Switzerland freeze the man’s accounts and hand over all documents related to them — something the suspect had opposed in court.

Switzerland’s top court had finally rejected his complaint in February this year, allowing Swiss authorities to hand over some of the requested information, the attorney general’s office said.

A request from Russian prosecutors for all the banking data linked to the case was being examined, it added.

Swiss authorities have meanwhile asked for assistance from Moscow in separate criminal investigations against two “senior representatives” of Rosagroleasing, it said.