22 Sep 2009 15:15

Investigators can charge Berezovsky with creation of criminal group

MOSCOW. Sept 22 (Interfax) - The Investigations Committee of the Russian Prosecutor's Office said investigators have grounds to charge Boris Berezovsky with creating a criminal community.

"The preliminary investigators showed that Berezovsky deliberately created a criminal community made up of people close to him for the purpose of committing grave crimes in the sphere of the economy in the territory of Russia and outside it and led this criminal community from 1991-2001," Vladimir Markin, an official with the Investigations Committee, told Interfax.

Markin said the investigators working on the criminal case against Berezovsky, who is charged with fraud, money laundering, assisting foreign currency removal, and abuse of office "have grounds to change and amend the charges" against Berezovsky.

Markin said that Berezovsky "personally and through people close to him created a chain of commercial enterprises, which used the criminal community for the commission of systematic transnational crimes, namely, stealing property and its legalization, under the guise of ordinary financial and economic activities."

Among these companies were commercial organizations created both on the territory of Russia and on the territory of several foreign countries, including Luxembourg, Cyprus, Switzerland, the Virgil Islands, Gibraltar, and Isle of Man, Markin said.

Among the crimes the criminal community led by Berezovsky is accused of, Markin mentioned the embezzlement of money received by stealing the property of OAO Avtovaz in 1994-2001, embezzlement of some 215 million rubles from OAO Aeroflot in 1996-1997 and embezzlement of over 79.5 billion non-denominated rubles from AKB SBS-AGRO in 1997.

"Berezovsky is charged with committing crimes enshrined by Article 210 of the Russian Criminal Code (the creation of a criminal community (criminal organization) for the commission of grave crimes and heading such a community (organization) combined with abuse of office," Markin said.