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Deputy Finance Minister faces corruption charges

Deputy Finance Minister Sergey Storchak will be charged with attempted embezzlement by the end of the week. That's according to the Prosecutor General's office.

Storchak was detained on 15 November on suspicion of belonging to a criminal group. He remains in detention.

Vladimir Markin from the Prosecutor General's office said Storchak is suspected of belonging to a gang “planning to embezzle more than $US 43 million from the state budget.” He said the the planned theft was to be made “under the guise of covering expenditures by the company Sodexim.”

“If he were to remain free, Storchak might try to escape justice, intimidate witnesses and destroy evidence,” Markin said.

Storchak was Russia's top Paris Club debt negotiator. He was detained along with the chairman of Moscow's Interregional Investment Bank and the head of Sodexim – the company that used to handle the Soviet Union's external debt.

Storchak was also closely involved in negotiations over other countries' debts to the Soviet Union.

Kudrin urges fair investigation
Kudrin urges fair investigation

Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin, a close associate of Storchak, said he struggled to understand the accusations against Storchak. His opinion seems to be shared by Russia's business community.

In an interview with Russia Today, Chairman and CEO of VTB bank Andrey Kostin said he knew Storchan “as a very professional person” who will be fairly treated.

“I still hope there is some kind of misunderstanding,” Kostin said.

I mean his role in whatever crime that happened is probably not one that can be considered because he is one of the leading professionals in the field of external debt," he said.

Under the law, a charge must be formally made within 10 days of detention. This would authorities until the end of the week to file charges.