TALLIN, January 24 - RAPSI. An inquiry conducted in Estonia into the alleged embezzlement of Russian budgetary funds as reported by late Hermitage Capital lawyer Sergei Magnitsky has revealed that roughly $10 million was allegedly laundered through Estonian banks. However, the Prosecutor General's Office has opted against opening a case, Prosecutor Piret Paukstys told the Eesti Paevaleht daily.

Paukstys said the investigation began last year after suspicious transactions were reported.

"The suspicious transactions occurred in 2008 when nearly $10 million was transferred through Estonian banks to the United States," the prosecutor said.
No case was opened as a result of the inquiry.

"There is no reason to open a criminal case in Estonia, as the money was transferred online from Estonia to overseas accounts belonging to foreign enterprises represented by foreign nationals."

The investigation was based on Magnitsky's claims that Russian officials had embezzled tens of billions of rubles from the budget and laundered $230 million. Official money-laundering inquiries have launched in the case in Switzerland, Latvia and Cyprus.

Last summer, Hermitage Capital sent requests to the prosecutor's offices of six countries to freeze accounts held at banks which are thought to have transferred the embezzled funds in 2008. Hermitage Capital believes that banks in Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Austria, Finland and Cyprus were involved. The Lithuanian Prosecutor General's Office launched a pretrial investigation the day after receiving Hermitage Capital's emailed request.

Prior to his death in a Moscow pre-trial detention center, the Hermitage Capital lawyer claimed that Russian tax officials had stolen $230 million from the company and laundered the funds through various European banks. Russia has refuted the accusations on numerous occasions.