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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Swiss Freeze Berezovsky Bank Accounts




Nearly $70 million held in Swiss bank accounts belonging to Kremlin insider Boris Berezovsky and his circle have been frozen by Swiss authorities to aid a Russian investigation into alleged high-level corruption and money laundering, the Swiss news magazine Facts has reported, citing unnamed sources.


Dominique Reymond, a spokesman for the Swiss Federal Prosecutor, confirmed that bank accounts had been frozen to aid a Russian investigation but refused to say whether they were Berezovsky's.


"We froze some bank accounts in relation to a request for judiciary assistance from the office of the chief prosecutor of the Russian Federation, which was addressed to our office on May 5, 1999," Reymond said, answering written questions by e-mail.


The former Swiss federal prosecutor, Carla del Ponte, had aggressively assisted Russian prosecutors' investigations, searching the offices of Andava, a Lausanne-based firm linked to Berezovsky and suspected of laundering money skimmed from Aeroflot's foreign earnings.


She also ordered a search of the Lugano premises of Kremlin contractor Mabetex, looking for evidence Kremlin officials took bribes in return for contracts to renovate government buildings.


Berezovsky representatives could not be reached for comment on the Facts report, which appeared this week. He denies the allegations, saying they are politically motivated.


Both Facts and a Geneva daily, Le Temps, reported that Swiss authorities had denied a police request to deny Berezovsky a visa in July. Prosecutor's spokesman Reymond declined to comment on the report.


Also Thursday, the Moscow daily Moskovsky Komsomolets published excerpts from a videotape purportedly made in 1996 by employees of Atoll, a private security firm suspected by prosecutors of spying on Yeltsin and his family on Berezovsky's behalf.


Atoll employees boast of their talents in killing, in a video that M-K suggests was directed at attracting Berezovsky's approving attention.


Berezovsky denies ties to Atoll.


The authenticity of the tape could not be verified independently on Thursday.


"We started looking for a money bag," Atoll head Sergei Sokolov is quoted as saying, explaining how he met Berezovsky. An associate "hooked us up with an entrepreneur who needed guards. That was how we met Boris Abramovich [Berezovsky]. It was 1992. He was interested. He said, 'I have business for you.'"