Swiss authorities block 20 bank accounts associated with YUKOS affair

Acting on the basis of a request for assistance by the general procurator of the Russian Federation, Swiss authorities have frozen the bank accounts of 20 Russian citizens implicated in the ongoing investigation of the YUKOS affair. 'Mrs. Khodorkovsky, Lebedev, Nevzlin, Dubov, Brudno, Temirko and others, have more than 6.2 billion Swiss francs in personal accounts with 5 Swiss banks, which amounts to some USD 5 billion,' said Natalia Veshniakova, head of the information service of the general procurator's office. She noted that the action did not involve assets, stocks or other bonds, but rather 'actual deposits made by physical persons, in one way or another implicated in the massive theft of government funds.'

'We are convinced that the joint action taken by the law enforcement agencies of Russia and Switzerland testifies to the fact that the investigation is proceeding in the right direction. It is important to note that the procurator's office is not involved in a reassessment of the results of privatization,' said Veshniakova. 'Investigators are examining the activities of actual persons who worked for YUKOS. They are suspected and accused of the theft of government funds totaling billions of dollars.'

Veshniakova said that the general procurator's office addressed a formal request to the courts that the relevant accounts be blocked. 'This action was taken in strict compliance with the procedural legislation of Russia and Switzerland,' she said. She noted that the Swiss authorities were currently 'resolving all questions associated with the bringing to justice of all persons whose accounts were blocked for the laundering of funds illegally transferred to Swiss territory. The Russian procurator's office will provide its colleagues with all the necessary legal assistance' noted Veshniakova.

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