Kozlov Case Sent to Court

The case against banker Alexei Frenkel and others accused of organizing the killing of Central Bank first deputy chairman Andrei Kozlov was sent to court Thursday, the Prosecutor General's Office said in a statement.

A lawyer for Frenkel, Viktor Parshutkin, said his client had been placed in a punishment cell for 15 days on Thursday and that no reason had been given, Kommersant reported on its web site. Parshutkin said it was done to tire Frenkel before an initial court hearing, which would take place about in about two weeks -- preventing him from preparing for the proceedings.

Meanwhile, a top central banker responsible for fighting money laundering said Thursday that the amount of murky transactions in the banking sector had fallen in the last two years after the bank waged a war on bad banks.

Viktor Melnikov, a Central Bank deputy chairman, said suspicious cash withdrawals fell by 8 percent in 2007 while the amount of cash in circulation rose by one-third.

"For the first time, the amount of suspicious cash withdrawals has fallen," Melnikov said.

The figure still amounted to over 1 trillion rubles, or about 3 percent of the estimated 2007 gross domestic product, he added.

Kozlov, who led the campaign against bad banks, was murdered in September 2006. Melnikov is the country's only senior central banker who has guards and drives in an armored car.