Banker to Be Charged in Historic Fraud Case

Investigators are close to wrapping one of one of the largest cases of purported bank fraud in the country's history, the Interior Ministry said Tuesday.

Former banker Boris Sokalsky will soon be formally charged with counterfeiting and illegal banking activities involving up to 62 billion rubles ($2.65 billion), said Irina Dudukina, a spokeswoman for the ministry's Investigative Committee.

Dudukina declined to give further details, saying the ministry would issue a statement as soon as Sokalsky was charged.

Sokalsky served as chairman of the bank Novaya Ekonomicheskaya Pozitsiya, known as NEP Bank, which was stripped of its license in the wake of money laundering charges in 2005.

Later that year, the city arbitration court declared NEP bankrupt. In a strange twist, Sokalsky took a job at exactly the same court as a low-level secretary in 2007. He was fired after his arrest in March 2007.

The purported scheme, which authorities say dates to May 2004, involved dozens of shell companies that, under the guise of charities, sent millions of rubles to accounts at NEP and Rodnik, another bank controlled by Sokalsky, Kommersant reported Tuesday.

Sokalsky's lawyer, Alexander Kotelnitsky, said that the accusations were fabricated at the behest of some of the bank's largest debtors.