Russian prosecutors charge banker with organizing murder of Central Bank official

Russian prosecutors on Wednesday charged a bank officer with organizing the murder of a senior Central Bank official who sought to clean up the country's banking industry.

Prosecutors at Moscow's Basmanny District Court formally entered the charges against Alexei Frenkel in connection with the killing of Andrei Kozlov, who was shot at point-blank range on Sept. 13 as he left a soccer game in Moscow, the Prosecutor General's office said in a statement.

Frenkel, who was detained last week, has vehemently denied the accusations.

"My client ... said he will cooperate with investigators to prove his innocence and to help investigators to find the actual criminals," defense lawyer Igor Trunov told The Associated Press.

Kozlov oversaw a cleanup of Russia's banking sector, closing down dozens of banks including Frenkel's over the past three years for alleged money laundering and other practices. Analysts have speculated Kozlov's shooting was ordered by criminals under pressure from his reform efforts.

The killing shocked the foreign investor community and served as a reminder of persistent lawlessness in Russia, reports AP.

On Friday, the Basmanny Court ordered the formal arrest of a second suspect, Liana Askerova. According to Russian news reports, she identified Frenkel as the person who organized the murder.

She has not been formally charged.

Prosecutors said seven people have been arrested in total in connection with Kozlov's murder.