2nd VTB Banker Dead

A banker at state-run VTB was found dead in his apartment after apparently suffering a gunshot wound to the head from a pellet gun.

Alexander Funin, 43, became the second VTB manager in less than a month to turn up dead in mysterious circumstances, when his wife discovered his body Sunday in their apartment on Ulitsa Paustovskogo, near the Bittsevsky Park metro station in southwest Moscow.

The couple celebrated their daughter's birthday at home the previous evening, national media reported.

Interfax identified Funin as a "main specialist" at VTB, though a spokesman for the bank Wednesday would neither confirm Funin's position nor comment on the case until investigators wrapped up their inquiry.

A spokesman for the Moscow branch of the Investigative Committee confirmed that investigators were looking into the death and said no criminal case had been opened. He declined to give any further details.

But an Investigative Committee source told Interfax that a pellet gun registered to Funin was found next to his body and that investigators believe his death could have been a suicide linked to a domestic argument.

"Right before the tragedy a quarrel began between [Funin] and his wife," the source told Interfax.

The Investigative Committee spokesman said no criminal case had been opened in connection with Funin's death, which came just weeks after the bizarre death of Oleg Zhukovsky, a VTB managing director who was discovered Dec. 6 in the pool at his dacha in the Odintsovo district of the Moscow region.

Investigators found a suicide note at the scene, but the fact that Zhukovsky's arms and legs had been tied up indicated he might have been murdered. A murder investigation has been opened.

Zhukovsky headed up VTB's lending operations with the timber industry. His close involvement with the industry, which is worth an estimated $10 billion to $15 billion annually, has led to speculation that his death might be connected with VTB's activities in the sector.