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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Frenkel Charged in Kozlov's Murder

Prosecutors on Wednesday charged banker Alexei Frenkel with organizing the murder of Andrei Kozlov, a senior Central Bank official who sought to clean up the banking industry.

Prosecutors at the Basmanny District Court formally entered the charges against Frenkel in connection with the killing of Kozlov, who was shot at point-blank range Sept. 13 as he left a football game in Moscow, the Prosecutor General's office said in a statement.

Frenkel, who was detained last week, has vehemently denied the accusations.

"My client ... said he will cooperate with investigators to prove his innocence and to help investigators to find the actual criminals," said Frenkel's lawyer, Igor Trunov.

Kozlov oversaw a cleanup of Russia's banking sector, closing down dozens of banks -- including Frenkel's -- over the past three years for alleged money laundering and other practices.

On Friday, the Basmanny court ordered the formal arrest of a second suspect, Liana Askerova. She is reported to have identified Frenkel as the person who organized the murder.

Kommersant said Askerova, the co-owner of a Moscow restaurant, helped Frenkel find the hit men.

She has not been formally charged.

Askerova's lawyer Nikolai Klyon told Interfax on Tuesday that he and other attorneys had not been allowed to see her.

Prosecutors said seven people had been arrested in total in connection with Kozlov's murder.

Frenkel, 35, was the CEO of VIP Bank, whose license was revoked last June.

He also was a co-founder of Sodbiznesbank, whose license the Central Bank revoked in 2004, accusing it of padding its books with fictitious capital and processing ransom cash. Sodbiznesbank was the first Russian bank shut down under new money-laundering laws.

In October 2005, the owner of the defunct bank was shot dead as he was traveling in a car outside of Moscow. His wife and daughter also died.

On Tuesday, Interfax reported that three former senior executives of the St. Petersburg branch of VIP Bank had been detained on suspicion of involvement in attacks on the former head of the branch. The banker's car was bombed and his house set on fire in 2004.

(AP, MT)