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16 Jan, 2019 14:52

Russian prosecutors claim corrupt official secretly owns record $150 million worth of property

Russian prosecutors claim corrupt official secretly owns record $150 million worth of property

The Russian general prosecutor’s office claimed that a Moscow region official, who is being investigated for embezzlement, is secretly a record-breaking multimillionaire. His attorneys claim the report is nothing but a smear.

The prosecutors intend to ask a court to seize and confiscate the property of Aleksandr Shestun, which it estimates is worth 10 billion rubles ($150 million), they said on Wednesday. The wealth allegedly owned by him through a complex network of dupes and intermediaries, includes 565 land plots, 111 houses and apartments, and 22 cars, according to the spokesman for the office, Aleksandr Kurennoy.

The Russian anti-corruption law allows seizing the property of officials, who cannot prove legal ownership. If confirmed and authorized by a court, Shestun would break the record in terms of how much gets confiscated. The current record – or rather anti-record, considering its nature – is held by Dmitry Zakharchenko, a disgraced interior ministry official, whose family last year was stripped of 9 billion ruble ($135 million) worth of property, the origin of which they could not explain.

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Shestun’s defense team denies the claims of the prosecutors, saying the defendant is quite surprised to learn that he is a multimillionaire. “I would call it a smear campaign, absolutely illegal and biased,” one of his attorneys told RT Russian. The team says their client owns a single house, a single car, and a bank account worth about $15,000.

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The official used to be the head of one of Moscow region’s municipalities. Last year he was arrested and accused of abusing the office to embezzle municipal property. Shortly before his arrest Shestun published several videos, asking Russian President Vladimir Putin for protection and claiming that the governor of Moscow region and some other senior Russian officials were threatening him. He says the case against him was fabricated to prevent his re-election.

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