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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Asks Greece to Extradite Man Accused of Embezzlement




ATHENS, Greece -- Greek authorities Monday began formal review of a Russian extradition request for a jewelry merchant accused of swindling a fortune in gems and precious metals from a Russian government consortium.


But the suspect, Andrei Kozlenok, plans to fight the extradition and seeks to face the charges in Belgium, media reports said. The battle could keep him in custody in Greece for months.


Another complication is a recent amnesty granted Yevgeny Kozlov, the former head of Russian's Committee on Precious Metals and Gems, who was suspected of embezzlement and violating rules on hard currency deals, said Russia's prosecutor-general, Yury Shuratov.


Shuratov said Kozlenok is charged with playing a key role in the embezzlement of more than $183 million in gold, diamonds and silver after making a fraudulent jewelry production contract with the Russian committee on metals and gems on behalf of a San Francisco-based company, Golden ADA Inc.


Kozlenok, who has been wanted by Russian authorities for four years, was arrested last week after arriving in Athens on a flight from Brussels, Belgium.


The Russian investigator handling the case, Ruslan Tamayev, said a letter seeking Kozlyonok's extradition was sent to Greek authorities Friday, Interfax reported.


In 1995, the Russian government filed a $150 million lawsuit in San Francisco alleging that Golden ADA never paid for gems and precious metals it received from the Russian consortium in 1993 and 1994.


The Russian government claims Golden ADA sold the metals and gems without permission and used the money to bankroll a buying spree that included property, yachts, luxury cars and a mansion. Some of the property was seized by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.


Kozlenok allegedly used threats and other strong arm tactics to wrest control of the company from the original owners in 1994. He later fled the United States and went into hiding.