Enjoying ad-free content?
Since July 1, 2024, we have disabled all ads to improve your reading experience.
This commitment costs us $10,000 a month. Your support can help us fill the gap.
Support us
Our journalism is banned in Russia. We need your help to keep providing you with the truth.

Fugitive Ex-Official Faces $135M Embezzlement Charges

The former top finance official for the Moscow region has been arrested in absentia for embezzling 3.8 billion rubles ($135 million) from the regional administration, putting the region on the verge of bankruptcy.

Alexei Kuznetsov, who left the country in 2008 and is currently on an international wanted list, is accused of fraud and money laundering, Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said Thursday.

Kuznetsov's former deputy Valery Nosov and businessmen Dmitry Kotlyarenko and Vladislav Telepnyov were also charged. A conviction carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence.

Nosov and Kotlyarenko are currently in pretrial detention, while Telepnyov is free.

Investigators say the four stole the money from the region's utilities companies, sending them fake bills and pocketing the payments.

Kuznetsov has denied wrongdoing, telling Vedomosti in 2009 that the case was fabricated by business enemies whom he did not name. He said he had left the country for fear of being denied a fair trial.

The Investigative Committee said in a statement that it has asked foreign law enforcement agencies to help find Kuznetsov. The businessman's current whereabouts is unknown, but he holds U.S. citizenship and was earlier reported to be living in the United States.

Officials have said Kuznetsov's group could have pocketed assets worth a combined 30 billion rubles. Some assets, mostly real estate, were returned to the state last year, the Interior Ministry said in October.

The case has damaged the reputation of Moscow region's veteran governor, Boris Gromov. Media reports have suggested that the Kremlin intends to use the scandal as pretext to remove him.

A reporter with Forbes Russia, Anna Sokolova, published a book on the Moscow region's financial woes earlier this year. Most of its print run of 5,000 copies was briefly impounded by regional police prior to publication in April, but later released.

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more