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14 Sep, 2010 15:23

Long way home: Swiss authorities return money to Aeroflot

Switzerland has returned assets worth more than $52 million to Russian national flag-carrier Aeroflot.

This came after a court found the assets were stolen by self-exiled tycoon Boris Berezovsky more than a decade ago.

Berezovsky and former senior Aeroflot executives were found to have colluded with a former Swiss airline executive in defrauding Aeroflot.

The criminal case dates back to the 1990s. Money went through the Swiss-based company Andava, co-founded by Berezovsky, to service the airliner's hard-currency proceeds.

Russia appealed to Swiss authorities in 1999. More than ten searches were held during the investigation, as accounts totaling more than $48 million were frozen in Swiss banks. After all the judicial proceedings finished, a federal judge ruled on 7 July 2010 that the frozen assets had to be returned to the Russian company.

However, by the time Berezovsky was found guilty by Russian and Swiss courts, he had been granted political asylum in the UK, where he now lives.

Russia's Prosecutor's Office said the case outcome represents a breakthrough in international co-operation.