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French Court Orders Russian Official Extradited to Face Fraud Claims

© RIA NovostiA picture of Alexei Kuznetsov on Interpol website
A picture of Alexei Kuznetsov on Interpol website - Sputnik International
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A French court on Thursday ordered the extradition to Russia of a former official accused of involvement in Moscow Region’s selective default in 2008, the Investigative Committee said.

PARIS, January 16 (RIA Novosti) – A French court on Thursday ordered the extradition to Russia of a former official accused of involvement in Moscow Region’s selective default in 2008, the Investigative Committee said.

Russian investigators are ready to charge Alexei Kuznetsov, the former finance minister of Moscow Region, with more than 150 counts of fraud resulting in total losses of 11 billion rubles ($330 million).

Kuznetsov’s defense team argued in court that he is being persecuted in Russia for political reasons. His lawyer Gregoire Rincourt said that he would file an appeal against the ruling later on Thursday.

The official was detained on July 5, 2013, in the southern French city of Saint Tropez. The Russian Interior Ministry said that he had several fake passports on him at the time of his detention.

His wife, New York real estate mogul and socialite Janna Bullock, has also been put on the international wanted list on suspicion of being Kuznetsov’s accomplice.

Moscow Region’s credit rating was downgraded to SD (selective default) by Standard & Poor agency in late 2008. An Audit Chamber check in 2010 spoke only of ineffective management of funds, not deliberate machinations, but investigators eventually opened fraud cases against four suspects, including Kuznetsov.

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