City Financial Official Pinched in Bribery Case

A senior city financial inspector has been arrested on suspicion of demanding more than 13,000 euros in bribe money to turn a blind eye to a company's financial violations, the Investigative Committee said Thursday.

Sergei Smirnov, chief inspector at the Moscow branch of the Federal Service for Financial and Budgetary Inspection, was arrested in a June 3 sting after accepting 13,600 euros in bribes, the committee said in an e-mailed statement.

Investigators say Smirnov demanded the equivalent of a $20,973 bribe from the head of a private firm in order to ignore financial violations he discovered during an audit of the company.

Smirnov was formally charged Wednesday and placed under arrest Thursday, the statement said.

"If released from custody, Smirnov could influence the course and results of the investigation," investigators said in the statement. Smirnov previously worked in the anti-organized crime department of the Moscow region police.

If convicted of accepting a large-scale bribe, he faces up to 12 years in prison.

The Federal Service for Financial and Budgetary Inspection monitors the spending of money allocated to entities from the federal budget.

Reached by telephone Thursday, Sergei Korsakov, deputy head of the branch where Smirnov works, referred all inquiries to the service's federal branch.