Finance Minister defends deputy over corruption charges

Russian Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin has defended his arrested deputy Sergey Storchak and urged a fair investigation. Storchak is accused of embezzling millions of dollars state funds.

Kudrin said he will look into the arrest as soon as he returns from a business trip to South Africa.

According to the Investigative Committee, Storchak was arrested on suspicion of belonging to a criminal group that tried to embezzle more than $US 43 million in state funds.

The investigators say the arrest occurred to prevent Storchak from tampering with evidence.

A Finance Ministry source quoted by Reuters says the investigation is related to the Sodexim company's Soviet era debts. Storchak is responsible for Russia's debt policy and oversees the $US 148 billion stabilisation fund.

Andrey Kostin, Chairman and CEO of VTB bank in an interview for Russia Today pointed out that he knows Storchak “quite well.”

“I know him as a very professional person and I very much hope it will be fair treatment. I still hope that there is some kind of probably misunderstanding. 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,” Kostin added.