31 Jul 2019 18:21

Court convicts in absentia U.S. accomplice of Moscow region's ex-finance minister in gross embezzlement case

MOSCOW. July 31 (Interfax) - U.S. citizen Dmitry Kotlyarenko, who is an accomplice of the former deputy prime minister of the Moscow region's government and the former finance minister of the region, Alexei Kuznetsov, and who is charged with embezzling about 12 billion rubles of public funds, has been sentenced in absentia to 11 years' imprisonment in Russia, the press service of the Russian Investigative Committee said.

"The court found the evidence collected by the Russian Investigative Committee sufficient for the sentencing in-absentia of U.S. citizen Dmitry Kotlyarenko. He is found guilty of embezzlement (Part 4 Article 159 of the Russian Criminal Code) and money laundering (Part 3 Article 174.1 of the Russian Criminal Code)," the press service said in a statement seen by Interfax on Wednesday.

The court has delivered the final sentence of 11 years' imprisonment, the statement said.

Despite the evidence of Kotlyarenko's guilt presented, the relevant U.S. authorities have previously declined to extradite him to Russia due to the lack of a relevant agreement by the two countries, the statement said.

"Investigators and the court established that between 2005 and 2008 Kotlyarenko joined an organized criminal group led by former deputy prime minister of the Moscow region's government Alexei Kuznetsov. Kotlyarenko defrauded utility companies of their right to claim the debts from Moscow regional municipalities, and embezzled the property of the Moscow Regional Investment Trust Company in this period," it said.

The damages caused by the defendants' illegal activity amount to approximately 11.8 billion rubles, the statement said.

"The stolen funds were legalized by concluding false deals involving controlled accomplices, including Zhanna Bulakh and various legal entities, whose bank accounts were opened at the Moscow Mortgage Bank (MZB), which was also controlled by Kuznetsov, Valery Nosov, and Bulakh," it said.

After striking fictitious deals, the stolen funds were withdrawn to the bank accounts of the non-resident companies, which are registered in the offshore zone in Cyprus, the statement said.

"Three defendants; namely, Valery Nosov, Vladislav Telepnyov, and Yelena Kuznetsova have already been convicted. Bulakh was found guilty in absentia of similar charges. The court is hearing the criminal case against Kuznetsov, who was extradited from France," the Russian Investigative Committee said.