Magazine article Insight on the News

Those Funny Money Matters in Moscow

Magazine article Insight on the News

Those Funny Money Matters in Moscow

Article excerpt

Independent counsel Kenneth Starr should count himself lucky -- at least he was able to investigate various and sundry allegations of presidential wrongdoing without being sacked. His counterparts in Russia, who against great odds have been trying to get to the bottom of Kremlin corruption, have not been so fortunate.

The latest money-laundering scandal to rock Moscow, with Swiss bank accounts here, there and everywhere and hundreds of millions of dollars of apparently misappropriated foreign aid ending up coursing through the Bank of New York, has led President Boris Yeltsin to unleash a purge against prosecutors. The senior investigator, Georgy Chuglazov, and two of his colleagues in the prosecutor general's office were in the process of being removed from their jobs as news alert! went to press.

Chuglazov was fired as he was about to set off for Switzerland in connection with his ongoing probe into alleged kickbacks to the Kremlin by the Swiss construction firm Mabetex. Shortly before he was "neutralized" he declared, "We possess material on the existence of accounts of high-level government officials and their relatives in foreign banks."

The country's prosecutor general, Yuri Skuratov, who was suspended by Yeltsin in the winter, continues to maintain that the Russian president's "closest entourage" will do anything to block probes, especially into the laundering of $10 billion through the Bank of New York. Skuratov claims more than 800 top Russian officials also illegally have speculated in short-term treasury bills. …

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