7 Nov 2019 20:27

Vienna court to decide on Friday whether ex-Russian Culture Ministry official Boris Mazo may be released on bail

MOSCOW/VIENNA. Nov 7 (Interfax) - Vienna's Land Court for Penal Cases will decide on Friday whether Boris Mazo, ex-Russian Culture Ministry official, should remain in custody or be released on bail pending trial on Spain's request for his extradition to the country.

"Currently, the Russian citizen is in custody. The court will decide tomorrow evening whether he should remain under arrest until there is a final judgment on his extradition to Spain or be released, if possible, on bail," a court spokeswoman told Interfax on Thursday.

The court will consider the request for Mazo's extradition to Spain under general rules, in accordance with the applicable law, she said.

The Spanish police revealed earlier that the former director of the Russian Culture Ministry's asset management and investment policy department had been detained in Austria under an arrest warrant issued by a Marbella court. The Vienna prosecutor's office later confirmed the information to Interfax.

Mazo's ex-wife and son were also detained, it said.

The European law enforcement authorities believe that the Russians could have participated in money laundering schemes involving purchases of some expensive real estate properties in Marbella. The money could have had criminal origins in Russia, they said.

It could be a mansion in Spain worth more than four million euro that made law enforcement authorities look into the Mazo family's transactions, an informed source told Interfax.

In Russia, Mazo was arrested in absentia and put on an international wanted list in a criminal probe into an embezzlement of at least 450 million rubles of public funds that the government had allocated for the construction of a group of buildings for Russia's State Hermitage Museum. Former deputy culture minister Grigory Pirumov is also a defendant in the case.

Russian investigators also believe that Mazo, Pirumov and other accomplices have laundered approximately 800 million rubles allocated for construction works at the Hermitage Museum.

In 2017, Mazo and Pirumov were convicted in the so-called "restorers' case" for embezzling about 164 million rubles when concluding contracts for restoration works on cultural sites. Mazo was given a real jail term but released in courtroom as he had served his term while in custody.