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Moscow policemen given jail terms in foreign cars scam

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MOSCOW, June 7 (RIA Novosti) - A group of police officers in Moscow have been sentenced to lengthy jail terms for their role in a scheme to register foreign cars smuggled into Russia, prosecutors said Wednesday.

A Moscow court handed down sentences of between four and a half to five and a half years in prison to eight officers for acting as part of an organized group that illegally registered cars from Europe - many of which were stolen - over a period of four years.

"For several years, from 1998 to 2002... officials and their accomplices regularly registered expensive foreign-made cars with no customs clearance - i.e., smuggled - and on a number of occasions stolen in Europe that had fake IDs and engine numbers," prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said the cars had been registered in the names of Moscow residents who knew nothing of the scam but whose passports were either "leased" for a period of time or lost by owners. After that, the cars could be legally used in Russia.

"Investigators have collected irrefutable proof on 22 cases of such car registration, which resulted, due to a failure to pay mandatory customs payments, in the state incurring losses to the value of more than 15 million rubles [$562,000]," the Moscow prosecutor's office said.

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