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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Police Raid Alfa Over Sodbiznes Bankruptcy

Interior Ministry investigators on Thursday raided Alfa Bank headquarters in central Moscow in connection with an ongoing investigation into Sodbiznesbank, a bank closed down by assassinated central banker Andrei Kozlov.

Investigators said they took away documents relating to Sodbiznesbank, a former Alfa Bank client. Sources in Alfa Bank said officers had visited the accounts department and offices of senior executives.

Alfa Bank said in a statement, "We can confirm the fact that documents were removed from our head office ... connected to the account of one the clients of Alfa Bank." The bank said it was fully cooperating with the investigators.

The ministry said in a statement that the raid was connected with an ongoing investigation into the bankruptcy of Sodbiznesbank. Kozlov, the senior central banker assassinated in September 2006, shut down the second-tier bank in May 2004 under new anti-money laundering legislation.

The Interior Ministry said Tuesday that it had charged former senior Sodbiznesbank executive Denis Davydov with intentionally causing bankruptcy and abuse of power. The bank was formally declared bankrupt in September 2006. Davydov is currently head of Prado Bank.

Alexei Frenkel, a co-founder of Sodbiznesbank, has been charged with Kozlov's murder.

Police said they were not investigating Alfa Bank directly.

Analysts were split on whether the raid on such a high-profile bank was an unsettling development for investors, or simply a localized case.

"This raid is an unwelcome reminder of the bad old days," said UralSib chief strategist Chris Weafer, who until recently held the same position at Alfa Bank. "It does call into question the commitment from the government to rein in these activities."

A banking source said investors would assume that Alfa was being targeted over unresolved issues surrounding its stakes in TNK-BP and mobile operator MegaFon.

But Tom Mundy, an equities analyst at Renaissance Capital, said the raid was likely to have only a minimal impact on the market.

"The authorities have been very careful to say this is a localized issue," he said. "The market really isn't that interested."

Alfa Bank is controlled by Mikhail Fridman, the country's seventh-richest businessman, according to Forbes. The bank voiced fears to investors in June that it might be targeted by the state.

Its comments came after months of state pressure against TNK-BP over its Kovykta gas project prompted the firm to sell its stake to Gazprom. Fridman and fellow billionaires Viktor Vekselberg and Len Blavatnik, the owners of half of TNK-BP, have an option to sell their stakes this year. Gazprom has expressed interest in buying out the Russian shareholders.

Alfa Bank president Pyotr Aven and Alexei Reznikov, the head of Alfa's telecoms arm, Altimo, were among a number of business leaders accompanying President Vladimir Putin on Thursday on his trip to Indonesia, where Altimo hopes to clinch a telecoms deal.