Russia asks France to extradite former Moscow Region finance minister
MOSCOW, August 20 (RAPSI) - The Prosecutor General's Office has made an official request to France to extradite Alexei Kuznetsov, the former finance minister of the Moscow Region suspected of major fraud, Deputy Prosecutor General Alexander Zvyagintsev told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.
The fugitive official was detained on July 5 in a hotel in Gassin, not far from Saint-Tropez, and placed in custody in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur Region in southern France.
According to the investigators, from November 2005 to November 2008, a group organized by Kuznetsov deceived several housing and utility companies into selling it over 3.5 billion rubles ($115.2 million) worth of claims against the Moscow Region's municipal authorities. The group laundered and misappropriated the money. It also embezzled the property of the Mosobltransinvest company worth 7.2 billion rubles ($237 million).
Kuznetsov was placed on the federal and subsequently on the international wanted list in November 2012 on suspicion of fraud, money laundering and embezzlement. The investigators said the search for Kuznetsov gathered speed after Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin met with the French police chief in January 2013.