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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Executive Accused of Bribing FSB Chief

The Prosecutor General's Office said Tuesday that it has arrested Vyacheslav Aminov, an obscure businessman linked by Russian media to former President Boris Yeltsin's inner circle, on a charge of trying to bribe the head of the FSB.

The arrest comes as prosecutors are pursuing criminal investigations into several other members of the Yeltsin circle, including recently sacked Railways Minister Nikolai Aksyonenko and officials of the Swiss-based Andava company, which has been linked to Boris Berezovsky.

Aminov, who the media calls an adviser to presidential chief of staff Alexander Voloshin and a close associate of Berezovsky's, was detained Dec. 19 for allegedly offering a bribe of $50,000 to Federal Security Service head Nikolai Patrushev. The Kommersant newspaper said Aminov was lobbying Patrushev for a high-ranking post in the Interior Ministry.

FSB investigators searched Aminov's apartment in downtown Moscow and his dacha outside the city and confiscated jewelry and antiques worth several million dollars as well as a collection of compromising video recordings of prominent government officials, according to local media reports.

Aminov was held for 10 days before being released on condition that he not leave the city, Interfax reported.

A Prosecutor General's Office spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday that Aminov had been detained and criminal proceedings have been started against him. She declined to give details.

"Investigators in charge of the Aminov case don't share information with the press service," she said by telephone.

The FSB press service refused to comment Tuesday.

Recent press reports have linked Aminov to a scandal at the Atoll private security agency in 1999 that saw its top executives charged with illegally eavesdropping on Yeltsin's daughter, Tatyana Dyachenko, and senior government officials. The reports said Atoll was co-owned by Aminov and Berezovsky, who is now living in self-imposed exile in Europe.

Aminov appears to be no stranger to controversy. He was fired in 1997 from the Interprivatizatsiya small business fund, where he worked as commercial director, after he refused to repay a $1 million loan, a fund executive said on condition of anonymity Tuesday. She said Aminov's associates threatened fund officials when they pursued the loan.

Aminov was at one time the head of Prominvest, an Interprivatizatsiya investment vehicle that was shut down in 1997, she said.

Meanwhile, the Prosecutor General's Office said it uncovered about 8,000 cases of bribery in 2001, an increase of 14 percent from the previous year, Interfax reported. The prosecutor's office said up to half of all illegally obtained revenues are spent on bribing government officials.