Italian authorities to investigate graft case

The Trento prosecutor's office in northern Italy has issued a warrant for the arrest of former Rosvooruzheniye chief executive officer Yevgeny Ananyev, 56. (Rosvooruzheniye was a state-run Russian company responsible for coordinating arms and combat-hardware exports - Ed.)

Ananyev, as well as Russian citizen Olga Beltsova, 37 and Italian citizen Giulio Rizzo are charged with money-laundering operations; the three persons were apparently bribed during the signing of a contract for the sale of Russia's Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 Fulcrum air-superiority fighters to Peru.

Beltsova, who has a little baby, has now been placed under house arrest. Ananyev has gone into hiding; and we don't know his whereabouts; meanwhile Rizzo is staying in prison, Col. Attilio Iodice, spokesman for the Trentino Alto Adige autonomous region's financial guard, told RIA Novosti.

RIA Novosti received some documents from top municipal financial-guard officers June 3; such documents note that the Italian tax police have frozen the three persons' bank accounts at Italian banks in Rome, Milan, Genoa and some other cities during operation Matreshka.

Operation Matreshka was the result of protracted work involving Swiss and Italian investigation divisions. The relevant criminal proceedings were instituted in 2001 by Swiss law-enforcement agencies, which froze the accounts of several Peruvian politicians and military officers at Zurich banks.

All those people were linked with Torres Montesinos, who had signed a contract with Rosvooruzheniye for the purchase of three MiG-29 aircraft worth $117 million in 1998 on behalf of the Peruvian Government. Former KGB general and former Rosvooruzheniye CEO Ananyev acted as Montesinos' partner.

Investigators have established that Montesinos and Ananyev received illegal "commission" to the tune of $18.4 million, what with the Peruvian citizen getting nearly $11 million. Ananyev was entitled to the remaining sum total.

Ananyev deposited about $5 million at the Lugano-based Adamas bank soon afterward. Ananyev had no trouble opening accounts at that bank because he had served as president of Russia's MAPO-Bank at that time. Small tranches were subsequently remitted to Italy and deposited on the accounts of Ananyev's girlfriend Beltsova. According to the Italian prosecutor's office, financial consultant Rizzo handled the money after that.

In September 2001 Italian law-enforcement officers searched Ananyev and a Russian eye specialist, who was accompanying him, in Milan's Malpensa airport, subsequently finding hand-written documents, which dealt with financial aspects of the MiG-29 graft case.

In March 2004 the Zurich prosecutor's office provided the Trento prosecutor's office with detailed information pertaining to specific violations on the part of Montesinos and Ananyev. Prosecutors in Peru also received similar information.

Acting on orders from the Trento prosecutor's office, the financial guard's tax-police service tracked numerous bank transfers involving these people. Italian authorities subsequently obtained ample evidence of money-laundering operations in Italy.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team