MOSCOW, February 5 (RAPSI) – Yelena Kotova, Russia’s former top representative at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) who has been charged with seeking a bribe of $1.4 million, pleaded not guilty in court on Wednesday, the RAPSI legal news agency reports from the Moscow courtroom.
Igor Lebedev, a former top manager of a leading Russian bank, also denied charges against him. The court will examine evidence and question some foreign witnesses on February 12.
The Interior Ministry announced last January that Kotova and Lebedev had been charged with abuse of office and using their ties in the business community to solicit funds from a Canadian oil company.
The investigation discovered that Kotova allegedly solicited $1.425 million from representatives of a Canadian oil company in exchange for helping it get a $95 million loan from the EBRD. Lebedev allegedly acted as a negotiator between Kotova and the borrower and also laid down the conditions and guarantees of the deal.
Kotova was one of four Russian officials assigned to the EBRD who came under investigation for alleged corruption two years ago and had their diplomatic immunity revoked. She was dismissed in 2011 by Russia’s economy ministry as the country’s representative on the board of the bank, founded in 1991 to help finance Eastern Europe's transition to market democracy.
Kotova, a former World Bank and IMF official and senior manager with Russian lenders who represented Russia, Belarus and Tajikistan at the EBRD, denies all allegations against her. She said the case against her was politically motivated because it was opened at a time when she was being considered for the post of vice president at the bank.