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Top Energy Official Suspected of Taking $38K Bribe

The heat has only just been turned on in the chilly apartments of the Russian capital and already a senior official at the Moscow United Energy Company has been arrested on suspicion of eliciting bribes.

The first deputy director of a branch of MUEC, the Gazprom-owned company that provides heating and hot water to Moscow and surrounding towns, has been arrested for extorting 1.2 million rubles ($37,600) from the general director of a construction company, a police representative told RIA Novosti Monday.

N. Kotkov, whose first name has not been given by authorities, allegedly demanded the money in exchange for drawing up the documents needed to connect a medical complex to the main heating system.

The complex belongs to the state-financed Otolaryngology Clinical Center of the Federal Biomedical Agency and is planned as the only medical institution in the country to perform a range of high-tech operations in ear, nose and throat medicine, Interfax reported.

The official confessed shortly after being arrested on Leningradsky Prospekt last Wednesday when caught in the act of receiving a 1 million ruble payment and is now being held in pretrial detention. He faces a prison sentence of up to seven years if convicted on commercial bribery charges.

"Currently, efforts are being made to establish additional episodes of unlawful activity by the prisoner. In addition, the involvement of other MUEC officials in corruption-related crimes is being investigated," the police representative said.

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