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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Following the Money Trail

The money-laundering trail associated with Diskont leads through a quiet side street in Moscow to Vienna, and from there, to Latvia and some 50 accounts around the world, the Austrian Interior Ministry said.

Raiffeisen was tipped off by a telephone call on Aug. 30 from the president of a Russian bank, warning that a large sum paid into Diskont's correspondent account at Raiffeisen should be blocked and sent back on suspicion of money laundering, according to a report on the ministry's web site.

Raiffeisen spokesman Andreas Ecker-Nakamura declined to name the Russian bank that provided the tip, but said it was a "respectable" partner that Raiffeisen worked with often in Russia.

The head of the Central Bank's watchdog had been in telephone contact with both Austrian investigators and with Raiffeisen just before Kozlov's murder, the Austrian ministry's report said.

Russian investigators did not give their Austrian counterparts any explanation about the money's origin or about the background of Kozlov's assassination, the report said, but only stated that Diskont Bank's managers were being investigated over possible tax evasion and money laundering.

An Austrian investigation found that the account had contained more than $44 million that day, paid through 34 transfers. By the time the money was frozen, only $3 million and 2,600 euros could be recovered. It was found that the account had been used for transactions worth $112 million in the last four days leading up to the Aug. 30 seizure -- money that had been transferred through 189 transactions to 50 offshore companies with addresses and bank accounts all over the globe.

Austrian investigators said most of the suspect funds had been to accounts in Latvia, and Latvian police confirmed Wednesday that they had opened a criminal investigation into transfers originating with Diskont. Spokeswoman Ieva Reksna declined to elaborate, citing the ongoing investigation.

In Moscow, standing near the former headquarters of Diskont on the leafy side street of Ulitsa Marshala Malinovskogo, it seems astounding that so many billions of rubles could have passed through such a shabby and nondescript office. The freeze-dried coffee on the windowsill is cheap, and through the window the floors look badly worn.

Neighbor Svetlana Nemtsova, 73, said she would not be that surprised if the office had been used for money laundering. For more than 16 years she was the bank's next-door neighbor, and often sat on a bench that faced its front door. "I only saw a handful of people ever go in or out of there," she said. "They probably stole what they could and got out."