7 Nov 2019 19:34

Vienna prosecutor's office confirms ex-Russian Culture Ministry official Boris Mazo's detention at Spain's request

MOSCOW/VIENNA. Nov 7 (Interfax) - Austrian law enforcement agents detained Boris Mazo, former head of a department at the Russian Culture Ministry at the request of Spain on Thursday, and now a local court will decide whether it should place him in custody, Nina Bussek, spokeswoman for the Vienna prosecutor's office, told Interfax.`

"I confirm the detention of the Russian at the request of Spain," Bussek said on Thursday.

The court is to decide on remanding Mazo in custody, she said, without elaborating on when to expect a court hearing on this matter.

The Spanish police said earlier that Boris Mazo, former director of the Russian Culture Ministry's department for asset management and investment policy, was detained in Austria under an arrest warrant issued by a court in Marbella, Spain.

Mazo's ex-wife and son have also been 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 dealings, 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.