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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Metal Exporter Detained

A prominent Russian businessman has been detained by police on charges of bribing customs officials to speed up shipment abroad of precious metals to the West, a spokesman for his company said Friday.

Yury Vainberg, an employee of Solev Management, said by telephone that the chairman, Lev Vainberg, had been arrested by an anti-organized-crime unit Wednesday. The two Vainbergs are not related.

Itar-Tass reported late Friday that police had levelled charges of bribing an official against Lev Vainberg, who is also president of the Association of Joint Ventures, a group of oil concerns.

The association's leadership appealed to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to release Lev Vainberg. A copy of the appeal received by The Moscow Times accused the government of passivity "against a background of a war of annihilation unleashed by criminal elements against domestic businessmen."

Yury Vainberg said that police had searched Lev Vainberg's apartment and dacha in the hope of finding evidence that he had made bribes to customs officials in order to avoid delaying export of a container of scrap metal that contained gold. The spokesman rejected the accusations against the Solev's chairman.

An Interior Ministry official involved in the investigation confirmed that Vainberg had been detained but refused to state the reason.

"Tomorrow we must charge him officially or release him," said the official, Leonid Titarov.

Solev has permission from the government to export scrap metal containing precious metals to Western plants, Yury Vainberg said.

The newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta said Solev had already exported 194 tons of scrap metal from which 225.6 kilograms of gold, 8,334 of silver, 20.6 of platinum and 112.7 of palladium had been extracted.