Senator's Embezzlement Case Closed After Time Runs Out

A decade-old embezzlement case involving Federation Council Senator Andrei Vavilov has been closed for good because the statute of limitations has expired, an Investigative Committee spokeswoman said Friday.

Vavilov, a Penza senator whose name has surfaced in numerous high-profile graft cases over the past decade, had been investigated on suspicion of embezzling $231 million in 1997.

Citing case materials, Kommersant reported Friday that investigators had fully proved Vavilov's guilt but that, because of the statute of limitations, he would not face any charges.

The Investigative Committee spokeswoman reached by telephone Friday declined to discuss the specifics of the case but said the Kommersant report was accurate. She confirmed that the statute of limitations had expired.

In 1997, then-Deputy Finance Minister Vavilov ordered federal funds transferred to buy bonds that were then to be deposited in a Unikombank account held by MAPO, which manufactures MiG fighter jets and was renamed MiG in 1999.

The money never arrived in MAPO's account, then-Central Bank Chairman Sergei Dubinin said at the time. Instead, Dubinin said, it was diverted into other commercial accounts, including one at MFK, a Uneximbank affiliate.

Vavilov, who became a senator in 2002, faced up to 20 years behind bars if convicted on both charges. The missing millions ended up in offshore accounts in Antigua and Latvia, Kommersant reported Friday, citing case materials.

Reached by telephone, Alexander Muranov, Vavilov's lawyer, declined to comment on the expired charges.

Vavilov insisted Friday that the accusations against him were "total nonsense," RIA-Novosti reported.

A Federation Council spokesman said the chamber would not seek to expel Vavilov because investigators did not insist on it, Kommersant reported.