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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Large-Scale Graft Case Handed Over to Court

Prosecutors have completed a four-year investigation into allegations that former top officials of the State Statistics Committee helped big companies evade taxes and have sent the case to court, the Prosecutor General's Office said Thursday.

The case was among several high-profile corruption scandals during former President Boris Yeltsin's era — but is one of the few to have made it to court.

In a stunning purge, the top leadership of the State Statistics Committee was arrested in June 1998 on charges of manipulating economic data to hide the real output of companies, thereby reducing their tax liability.

The officials were also accused of selling classified information about rival companies' performance.

Investigators said they had been looking into the case for a year before the arrests were made. At the time of the arrests, prosecutors said more than 20 people were involved in the scheme. But only seven defendants were named in the case sent to court, including former statistics chief Yury Yurkov, his deputy Valery Dalin and the head of the agency's data processing center, Boris Saakyan, according to a statement released by the prosecutor's office.

They have been charged with several counts of economic crimes, including large-scale embezzlement and bribe-taking, the statement said.

Yurkov had headed the statistics agency since 1993, and the arrests provoked fears that economic data government officials relied on to make policy over several years had been falsified.

More than $2.5 million in cash was confiscated from the defendants, the prosecutor's office said.

The case has been submitted to the Moscow military court because two of the suspects had been in the military at the time of the scandal, the statement said.

In other financial scandals of the Yeltsin era, government officials were accused of taking bribes thinly veiled as fees for an unwritten book; several Russians were linked to alleged money laundering through the Bank of New York; and top Kremlin aides have been investigated for allegedly receiving millions of dollars in kickbacks from Swiss companies in exchange for lucrative contracts to renovate Kremlin buildings.