Ex-Russian energy minister and others accused of defrauding state of US$110 million

Russian prosecutors on Friday detailed their case against a former nuclear energy minister who was extradited to Russia last year from Switzerland, despite a rival U.S extradition request, accusing him and others of defrauding the state of US$110 million (Ђ88 million).

Yevgeny Adamov has been charged with fraud and abuse of power, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. No date has been set for his trial.

Adamov was arrested May 2, 2005, on a U.S. warrant in the Swiss capital, Bern. U.S. justice officials accused him of diverting up to US$9 million (Ђ7 million) intended to improve Russian nuclear security into private projects. He faces up to 60 years in prison on charges of conspiracy to transfer stolen money and securities, conspiracy to defraud the United States, money laundering and tax evasion.

But Russia filed its own extradition request and said the former minister should face trial here a move observers say was motivated by fears of Russian nuclear secrets falling into U.S hands. Adamov was dismissed from his post in March 2001 after three years in the post.

Adamov was flown to the Russian capital on Dec. 30 after a Swiss court ruled that he should be extradited to Russia and has been held in custody since in a Moscow jail.

The Prosecutor-General's office said in a statement that the investigation into Adamov was complete and it had forwarded the case materials to his defense lawyers for them to study ahead of the trial.

It said that similar fraud charges had been laid against three other individuals: Vyacheslav Pismenny, a former director of the Troitsk Institute of Innovation and Fusion Research, Revmir Fraishtut, general director of nuclear materials exporter Tekhsnabexport, and Alexander Chernov, president of U.S-Russian company Globe Nuclear Services and Supply GNSS Limited.

The prosecutors' statement said that Chernov was on an international wanted list.

"In the investigators' view, these people inflicted losses of 3 billion rubles (US$110 million) on the Russian budget, enterprises and organizations," it said.

Moscow's efforts to prevent Adamov's extradition to the United States followed expressions of concern in Russia that the ex-minister has access to state secrets.

Adamov, 66, worked on sales of nuclear technology to Iran during his tenure as minister, reports AP.

O.Ch.