RUSSIA: Russian businessman Alexei Frenke appears in court accused of ordering the murder of central bank deputy head Andrei KozlovRecord ID: 318896
- Title: RUSSIA: Russian businessman Alexei Frenke appears in court accused of ordering the murder of central bank deputy head Andrei Kozlov
- Date: 13th January 2007
- Summary: MEDIA OUTSIDE COURT
- Reuters ID: LVAEZTIL86RDUTU14IZXEXBXVQF0
- Duration: 00:00:07
- Story Text: The Russian businessman who prosecutors say ordered the murder of central bank deputy head Andrei Kozlov protested his innocence on Friday (January 12) as he was led away after a brief court hearing.
A judge at Moscow's Basmanny court ordered that Alexei Frenkel -- head of a private bank that Kozlov shut down three months before he was shot in a Moscow parking lot -- be held for another 72 hours pending another hearing.
A woman who was arrested two days ago as part of the investigation into Kozlov's shooting was also appearing in the same court.
"During a closed session of the Basmanny court, the decision was made to approve the request from the General Prosecutor's office to hold Liana Askerova in detention," said Moscow City court spokeswoman Anna Usachova on Friday.
Police detained Askerova as part of the investigation into Kozlov's murder. It was unclear what she was suspected of or what connection, if any, she had to Frenkel.
As prison guards led him away after his first appearance in court Frenkel, dressed in a shirt and coat, shouted out to the crowd of journalists waiting in the corridor: "I am not guilty!"
The suspect, detained in the early hours of Thursday morning, has not been charged. The hearing was to ask a judge to formally approve his arrest. Frenkel was brought into court surrounded by armed police and prison guards.
The judge agreed to a defence request for an adjournment to give them more time to prepare, Frenkel's lawyer Igor Trunov told reporters.
"The hearings have been postponed for 72 hours and our demand was satisfied. We have been given time to gather evidence that there is no need to keep (Alexei Frenkel) in detention and all charges are just unfounded and and triumphant noises (from prosecutors) and are pretty meaningless. The next hearing will take place, after we gather all evidence, on January 15 at 0900," said Trunov.
Kozlov, who led a crusade against money laundering in Russia's secretive banking system, was shot in Moscow in September after playing in a soccer game between central bank officials and bankers.
The killing, one of the highest profile assassinations of an official under President Vladimir Putin, raised concerns about stability and brought back memories of the murky contract killings of the 1990s.
Kozlov, a father of three, was well respected in financial circles at home and abroad for the fight against financial crime in Russia's banking system, where prosecutors say hundreds of tiny "pocket" banks are used to launder billions of dollars.
Frenkel, who was born in 1971, is the former CEO of VIP Bank. The Russian central bank, where Kozlov headed banking supervision, withdrew VIP Bank's licence in June 2006 for violating anti-money laundering regulations.
Russian media also reported that Frenkel was linked to another small private bank, Sodbiznesbank.
In 2004, Kozlov took control of Sodbiznesbank after it was accused of laundering ransom money from hostage-taking, sparking a mini-banking crisis as rumours spread that other banks were in a similar position.
The former owner of Sodbiznesbank was shot dead in 2005 along with his wife, a child and a nun in a shooting in central Moscow.
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