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14 Dec, 2007 09:17

Finance Minister visits deputy in jail

Russia's Finance Minister Aleksey Kudrin has met his deputy Sergey Storchak, for the first time since Storchak was arrested on November 15 over embezzlement charges.

The two met without lawyers in a Moscow prison, where Storchak is being held, and reportedly discussed the competence of the Finance Ministry.

The Finance Ministry press secretary says the meeting lasted two hours and officials discussed issues related to the competence of the finance ministry.

Earlier Kudrin offered to vouch personally for Storchak's proper conduct if released. He said his deputy possessed knowledge vital for the ministry's work but, until Thursday, he had not been allowed to visit him.

Sergey Storchak, Russia's foreign debt negotiator, who also oversaw a budget stabilisation fund, was arrested nearly a month ago in relation to a failed attempt to recover a debt owed by Algeria. He is accused of attempting to embezzle more than $US 40 million from the state. Several other men are also said to have been involved.

He faces up to 10 years in jail if convicted.