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Rusnano Fires Swiss Lawyer

Rusnano said Wednesday that it had fired a Swiss lawyer who pleaded guilty to money laundering last year in the United States and that it was considering legal action against PricewaterhouseCoopers for recommending him.

The state corporation sacked Hans Bodmer from the board of Swiss-registered Rusnano Capital, a subsidiary, after it learned of the accusations, the company said in a statement.

Bodmer's long-running and highly public legal troubles date back to 2003, when he was indicted in the United States as part of a bribery and money-laundering investigation involving high-ranking Azeri officials and the privatization of the Azerbaijan's oil industry.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, which is organizing Rusnano Capital's structure, had recommended Bodmer, Rusnano said in a statement. According to Swiss law, only a Swiss citizen can chair a company registered there.

"Hans Bodmer had been fulfilling administrative functions related to the fund's registration since his appointment in January 2010 and didn't take part in the company's operating activity," the statement said. "Rusnano is currently considering the possibility of making a claim against PricewaterhouseCoopers for damaging the corporation's business reputation."

Rusnano's supervisory board decided to create Rusnano Capital in October, giving the international fund $1 billion to invest in nanotechnologies.

"The information in Rusnano's statement isn't precise, and we're working with Rusnano to clear up the situation," a spokeswoman for PricewaterhouseCoopers said Wednesday.

Bodmer agreed to be extradited from South Korea in 2004 to face charges in the United States, and he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder money in May 2009, according to a statement on the web site of the law firm Shearman & Sterling, which represented Bodmer.

He was accused of bribing Azeri officials as part of a scheme to profit from the privatization of Azeri state assets, allegedly masterminded by Czech-born businessman Viktor Kozeny, the statement said.

Kozeny, an Irish citizen, has been fighting U.S. extradition attempts from the Bahamas, but U.S. businessman Frederic Bourke was convicted on related bribery charges in July.

The bribery charge against Bodmer was dismissed, since foreign residents cannot be criminally prosecuted under such cases in the United States, Shearman & Sterling said.

Bodmer could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

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