Spain remands Ukrainian ex-finance minister in custody

5th March 2015, Comments 0 comments

A Spanish court on Thursday remanded in custody Ukraine's former finance minister Yuri Kolobov pending his extradition to Kiev where he is wanted for alleged fraud and theft of public funds.

Police detained Kolobov, who served under ousted president Viktor Yanukovych, on Wednesday in Altea, a hilltop village on the Mediterranean coast in the province of Alicante.

Kolobov, 41, is the first minister from Yanukovych's former pro-Kremlin adminstration to be detained.

Ukrainian authorities have 40 days to present documents to back their extradition request.

Ukrainian prosecutors accuse Kolobov, along with Yanukovych and former prime minister Mykola Azarov, of misappropriation of over 220 million hryvnia ($8.5 million, 7.6 million euros) in public funds.

Kolobov, a former deputy head of Ukraine's central bank, was appointed finance minister in 2012 by Yanukovych, who was toppled in February 2014.

After Yanukovych's government fell, Kolobov's whereabouts were unknown although Spanish police said he is thought to have been living in hiding in Alicante with his family and several bodyguards since August.

Yanukovych fled to Russia after months of protests in Kiev against his decision to back away from an EU association deal and instead seek close ties with Ukraine's former master Moscow.

The current pro-Western leaders accuse Yanukovych and a coterie of relatives and close allies of accumulating huge wealth by robbing state coffers and plundering national assets through corrupt deals but he denies the allegations.

© 2015 AFP

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