Russia presses for extradition of fugitive banker

Russia presses for extradition of fugitive banker
Russian police say they will continue to seek the extradition of the former head of the Bank of Moscow Andrei Borodin. He is wanted for a multi-billion embezzlement of city funds and has been granted asylum in the UK.

Russian law enforcement bodies will continue to demand Borodin’s extradition as he has been charged with embezzlement in absentia and put on the international wanted list,” the Interior Ministry announced on Friday.

The statement came soon after Andrei Borodin said British authorities had granted him political asylum after ruling that the case against the banker was politically motivated. Borodin blamed Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, but added that there were more unnamed Russian politicians who are seeking his downfall.

The accusations have been refuted by Dmitry Medvedev’s press secretary, Natalya Timakova, who stressed that the prosecution of Borodin was an ordinary case based solely on criminal charges.

Timakova went on to say that unfortunately the current practice of granting political asylum, especially in Great Britain, has little connection with the nature of prosecution in applicant’s home country or by Interpol. “Once you announce political persecution as loud as possible you are guaranteed to get political asylum,” the press secretary said. “We can only regret that this simple ruse worked again in the United Kingdom,” she concluded.

Andrei Borodin headed the Bank of Moscow – the commercial bank founded and supported by the Moscow city administration - from 1995 till 2011. He was also one of the close allies of Mayor Yuri Luzhkov who was city boss for almost the whole period of modern Russian history and whose wife, Yelena Baturina, was recognized as Russia’s richest woman with assets in construction, real estate and chemicals.

In September 2010 Dmitry Medvedev dismissed Luzhkov and soon after that law enforcers opened a criminal case against Borodin and another top executive of the Bank of Moscow – Dmitry Akulinin, suspecting the two men of complicity in the embezzling of over 12 billion roubles (about $400 million) from the city budget. The criminal case expanded to include the embezzlement of 6.7 billion roubles ($223 million) from the state funds.

Borodin and Akulinin fled Russia and were put on an Interpol wanted list. Borodin moved to the United Kingdom. Britain has no extradition agreement with Russia and is already hosting several wanted Russian businessmen, like the former Kremlin insider Boris Berezovsky.

Yuri Luzhkov also left Russia after losing his post and after some time the media reported that his family moved to London.