Magazine article Insight on the News

And Just When Everybody Is Trying to Get Along

Magazine article Insight on the News

And Just When Everybody Is Trying to Get Along

Article excerpt

With the Bush administration trying to cozy up to Moscow -- all part of the diplomatic effort to coax the Russians to assent to the missile-defense proposal -- the last thing the White House wants to hear about is further allegations concerning money laundering of International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans via the Bank of New York (BONY).

During the second presidential debate last fall, then-candidate George W. Bush sought to embarrass Vice President Al Gore by raising the issue and accusing former Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, among others, of pocketing the IMF cash. The Russian threatened to sue. On the campaign trail, Bush pledged his administration would be far more cautious in backing international aid for Russia.

All that appears now to be forgotten, but the money-laundering scandal just won't go away. In mid-July, the Russian biweekly newspaper Novaya Gazeta published an article claiming that Anatoly Chubais -- currently head of United Energy Systems, Russia's electric utility, and a leader of the Union of Right-Wing Forces, a party allied to Russian President Vladimir Putin -- was involved in the laundering of IMF money.

Chubais was an early Putin mentor, being partly responsible for securing Putin's transfer from his job in St. Petersburg to the Kremlin when Boris Yeltsin was president.

According to documents obtained by Novaya Gazeta, in January 1996 a Chubais aide, Alfred Kokh, traveled to Barbados with Natasha Gurfinkel-Kagalovsky, a BONY senior vice president in charge of the bank's Eastern European division, and her husband, Konstantin Kagalovsky, Russia's representative to the IMF. …

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