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Berezovsky Indicted for Massive Fraud in LogoVAZ Case

Published: October 25, 2002 (Issue # 815)



  • Boris Berezovsky
    Photo: For The St. Petersburg Times

MOSCOW - Prosecutors turned up the heat on exiled magnate Boris Berezovsky on Wednesday, indicting the former Kremlin insider and two of his business associates for "large-scale fraud" at flagship automaker AvtoVAZ.

Deputy Prosecutor General Vladimir Kolesnikov said that Berezovsky, together with Badri Patarkatsishvili and Yuly Dubov, used Berezovsky's LogoVAZ dealership in a complicated scheme to defraud AvtoVAZ out of more than 2,000 cars worth $13 million in 1994 and 1995.

Berezovsky, who has lived in London since fleeing the country two years ago, and Patarkatsishvili, who reportedly lives in Georgia, have already been charged with car theft as part of a sweeping investigation of criminal activity at Tolyatti-based AvtoVAZ. But the new, more serious charge allows prosecutors to seize Berezovsky's property and formally seek his extradition.

"We have no doubts that British law-enforcement bodies will [comply with] our request for extradition, in line with legislation and international accords," news agencies quoted Kolesnikov as saying. "All the extradition documents have been prepared."

Last month, Georgia said that it would not extradite Patarkatsishvili. Dubov, who wrote a book on Berezovsky's life upon which the hit movie "The Oligarch" is based, is reportedly in Moscow.

Kolesnikov said that arrest warrants would be officially issued this week.

In a telephone interview from London, Berezovsky laughed off the charge.

"The Prosecutor General's Office doesn't impress me anymore," he said. "I have lost count - is this the fifth or sixth crime I am charged with?"

"There is absolutely no chance [that Britain will extradite me]," he said, adding that it would be impossible to seize all of his holdings in Russia.

"They already took all I had - ORT, Ogonyok," he said. "My daughter owns a house [in Moscow]; if they take it, no problem."

"I share my Russian business with partners," he said Wednesday. "To arrest it, they will have to arrest all the businesses in Russia."

In an interview published in business daily Vedomosti last month, Berezovsky claimed to have personal assets worth $3 billion - including $1.5 billion in Russia, through stakes in Russian Aluminum, Sibneft and various media interests.

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