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Former Kremlin Official Charged With Luxury Watches Fraud, Media Reports

Blake Buettner / Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

An active Russian security official and former Kremlin staffer has been reportedly charged with embezzling more than 20 million rubles ($300,000) from a luxury watch pawnbroker.

Mikhail Gorbatov, a Federal Security Service (FSB) colonel and the presidential administration’s former chief of monitoring and inspection, faces up to two years in prison, the Kommersant business daily reported.

Gorbatov and two accomplices are suspected of extorting $300,000 from a high-end watch pawnshop owner, the report said Monday, citing case materials.

The unnamed victim reportedly pressed charges after being blackmailed into giving the suspects four luxury watches — including two Harry Winston and one De Witt and Bovet watches — as collateral.

Unlike accomplices Arno Khodzhoyan and Vladimir Korobkov, Gorbatov did not appeal the charges against him.

Kommersant said Gorbatov was fired from the presidential administration’s monitoring and inspection department – where he oversaw the implementation of presidential pardons and political asylum cases – after his arrest. FSB still lists him as an active colonel, the publication reported.

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