MOSCOW, October 17 (RAPSI) - The Tverskoy District Court of Moscow on Friday has placed Alexander Potkin (a.k.a Belov), accused of laundering money embezzled from BTA Bank, under house arrest, RAPSI reports from the courtroom.
The judge thus granted the investigator's motion, that said should the detention measure be less severe, the accused nationalist figurehead Potkin could flee from justice, collude with accomplices at large, manipulate evidence or hinder the investigation.
Potkin denies all involvement and says he doesn't understand the charges. He asked the court for a 1,5 million ruble bail ($36,000).
The investigator told the court that at the time of the arrest Potkin had documents on him that effectively tied him to the embezzlement. Even though he reportedly ate one right before the investigator, the remaining are enough to implicate him. The investigator added that the witnesses in the case are afraid of pressure from Potkin, including "physical elemination". In addition, Potkin is contantly changing residences and phone numbers.
The investigation believes that Potkin, acting on orders from Ex-head of BTA Bank Mukhtar Ablyazov, was involved in managing and laundering the money and assets embezzled from BTA Bank. According to the investigation, Ablyazov embezzled more than $6 billion from the bank.
Mukhtar Ablyazov fled to the UK after the Kazakh government acquired a stake in BTA in 2009 and the bank came under the control of its sovereign wealth fund, Samruk-Kazyna. Kazakhstan claims that Ablyazov embezzled over $6 billion.
He was detained in July 2013 near Cannes, France. Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine are all seeking the extradition of the fugitive banker. In early January 2014, a court in France’s Aix-en-Provence ruled to extradite him to Russia or Ukraine, with priority given to Russia.
On April 9, 2014, the criminal chamber of Paris’s Cour de Cassation, the court of final appeal for civil and criminal cases in France, ruled to block Ablyazov’s extradition because of an administrative error by the court. Specifically, the ex-banker had not signed the official protocol as required.