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14 Jan, 2008 17:03

Bank of New York stands trial in Russia

The Bank of New York finally responded to a lawsuit filed last May, claiming more than $US 22 billions in unpaid export duties, and involving accusations of money laundering. The first official hearing of the money-laundering case against the Bank was pos

The long running legal stand off between the Bank of New York and Russian Federal authorities entered a new phase at the Moscow arbitration court on Monday.

For first time lawyers from the Russian customs service have come face to face with their counterparts from the bank. But the hearing was postponed shortly after it opened – on a technicality – with the customs service claiming the bank is trying to delay the hearing.

The two parties have been in a protracted dispute for a number of years. Until now the legal maneuvering has taken place in the United States.

The Russian customs service claims a money laundering  scheme operated by the Bank between 1996-1999 has cost the government up to $US 22 billions in unpaid export duties. In 2005 the bank agreed to pay $US 30 million to resolve a US probe into conspiracy, and observers believe this will strengthen the customs service hand in this case.

Lawyers believe the sum that the customs service can get from the Bank of New York will be much less than that claimed.

The next hearing of the case will take place next Monday but lawyers are preparing for the suit to carry on for months if not years.