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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Swiss Prosecutor Demands Borodin's Extradition

LONDON - A top Swiss prosecutor called Thursday for the extradition to Switzerland of a former Russian presidential aide arrested in New York on charges of involvement in a Russian money laundering scam.

Bernard Bertossa, Geneva's chief prosecutor whose international warrant led to the arrest of Pavel Borodin at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport, said the Russian was wanted in Switzerland for involvement in laundering $25 million.

"I was officially informed by the U.S. authorities about Borodin's arrest this [Thursday] morning. He was arrested on our international arrest warrant. We will be asking the United States to extradite Borodin to Switzerland," Bertossa said by telephone.

Borodin, the former head of the Kremlin's huge property empire, was at the center of a series of allegations of bribe-taking involving Swiss firms which dogged the final years in office of former President Boris Yeltsin.

A Swiss investigating magistrate indicted five people and issued the warrant for alleged money laundering against Borodin a year ago after a probe into alleged bribe-taking by government officials from Swiss construction firms Mabetex and Mercata.

Bertossa declined to say what implications Borodin's arrest would have on the Swiss probe.

He also declined to say whether Borodin's arrest may further another Swiss probe into possible Swiss involvement in a $7 billion Russian laundering scheme involving the Bank of New York in which a former bank executive and her husband have pleaded guilty in a U.S. court.

Suspicions that massive Western aid to Russia was diverted had been used by the U.S. President-elect George Bush's Republican Party to criticize the outgoing administration of Bill Clinton.

A Swiss investigating magistrate last January formally asked the United States for judicial help with the Swiss probe into Bank of New York but has said that repeated Swiss requests to U.S. officials to hand over documents had gone unanswered.

The Swiss probe into the firms centered on the alleged payment of millions of dollars in kickbacks to Kremlin officials to secure lucrative contracts to refurbish Russian public buildings.

Bertossa said the charges against Borodin centered on alleged involvement in laundering $25 million in a wider money laundering scheme which the prosecutor said was worth "many tens of millions of dollars."

In Moscow, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov protested against Borodin's arrest and demanded his immediate release.

A ministry statement said that U.S. Ambassador James Collins had been summoned to the ministry to hear the protest.

"The Russian side demands the immediate and unconditional release of Borodin," the ministry statement said.

Bertossa said Switzerland had 40 days to formally demand Borodin's extradition from the United States.

Borodin has strenuously denied any wrongdoing and Russian prosecutors dropped their investigations last year.

Itar-Tass reported that Borodin was detained at the airport on Wednesday and would by questioned by a New York court later Thursday.

Interfax said he had been invited to the United States to attend Bush's inauguration on Saturday.

Borodin, moved from his Kremlin post after Vladimir Putin came to office last year, is currently head of a special body overseeing efforts to form a Russian-Belarussian union.