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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Tax Officials Seize Kristall Documents

Tax police on Friday seized documents from the Kristall vodka distillery in Moscow as part of an investigation into the company, officials said.

Hours later, a man claiming to be the company's director arrived accompanied by armed guards in an attempt to assert his claim, reports said.

Tax officials took documents in connection with an audit conducted earlier this year that uncovered financial wrongdoing, including underreporting of profits, Interfax reported, without providing further details.

Kristall makes some of Russia's best-known vodkas, including the Stolichnaya brand.

Some time after the tax police entered the building, about 15 armed men came to the distillery building and also entered, news reports said.

Alexander Romanov, who said he is the Kristall director, stated on NTV television that the men were private security guards helping him assert his claim to the distillery.

Interfax reported Romanov was elected general director of Kristall in May, but the Moscow arbitration court last month ruled the decision invalid.

Tax police have become increasingly visible recently, taking part in several high-profile raids.

Cases have been launched against several major companies this summer, including prosecutors attempting to overturn the 1997 privatization of metallurgical giant Norilsk Nickel and a tax probe of major oil company LUKoil.

On Friday, the Moscow arbitration court rejected many of the charges that had been brought against LUKoil by the tax police, said Itar-Tass.

Another company targeted by tax police has been carmaker AvtoVAZ, which was charged in July with tax evasion. But prosecutors dropped the charges Thursday, saying there were insufficient grounds to continue the case.

Still, tax police said Friday an investigation into the company would continue. In a statement, they said that over the course of the earlier probe, "other factors were discovered that require an audit of the company's financial and business activities ? as well as inspections of AvtoVAZ's whole dealership network, including abroad."