- Title: RUSSIA: Russian court approves arrest in the muder of central bank deputy.
- Date: 16th January 2007
- Summary: (BN08) MOSCOW, RUSSIA (JANUARY 15,2007) (REUTERS) EXTERIOR OF MOSCOW'S BASMANNY COURT
- Embargoed: 31st January 2007 12:00
- Topics: Economic News
- Reuters ID: LVA9P3LO3QIE1540QR8A9SN964X4
- Story Text: A Russian court on Monday (January 15) formally approved the arrest of a former private bank boss who prosecutors suspect of ordering the 2006 assassination of deputy central banker Andrei Kozlov.
Alexei Frenkel -- head of a private bank which Kozlov shut down three months before he was shot in a Moscow parking lot -- is expected to be formally charged at another court hearing on Wednesday (January 17).
As Moscow's Basmanny court resumed on Monday, Frenkel's lawyer, Igor Trunov, told reporters he had been denied access to see his client after Friday's court appearance.
"Unfortunately I have not been able to see my client over the last 72 hours, but we have now gathered evidence that shows there is no need to keep (Alexei Frenkel) him in detention," said Igor Trunov.
The suspect, detained in the early hours of Thursday morning (January 11), has not been charged. Hearings were adjourned on Friday to give the defence more time to prepare its arguments.
"Unfortunately I did not manage to meet the prosecutor (in the case), either. I hope I will be able to see my client in the temporary detention centre today to set up a joint position. We have also sent a request through the prosecutor's office to check Alexei Frenkel's physical condition, and to investigate allegations that he has been beaten while in detention. This allegation has been mentioned by him (Frenkel) in the papers submitted in the case," added Trunov.
Trunov later told reporters outside the court he would appeal the court's decision to detain Frenkel.
"We think the court decision is baseless, and we will appeal it within three days at Moscow's City court. There is no reason for the case as no real evidence was presented to court. We have heard only baseless charges that he (Frenkel) plans to disappear, and he plans to continue his criminal activities; so this is why we plan to appeal," he said.
Kozlov, who led a crusade against money laundering in Russia's secretive banking system, was shot in September after playing in a soccer game between central bank officials and bankers.
It was one of the highest profile assassinations under President Vladimir Putin, raising fears for Russia's stability and memories of a wave of contract killings in the 1990s.
Russia's police and prosecutors have a poor record on catching those responsible for big contract killings.
No one has been convicted for the murder last year of investigative journalist and Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskya, or the killing in 2004 of U.S. journalist Paul Klebnikov.
Police are holding a total of seven people over Kozlov's murder. They include the suspected hitmen.
Kozlov, a father of three, was well respected for his fight against financial crime in Russia's banking system, where prosecutors say hundreds of tiny "pocket" banks are used to launder billions of dollars.
The industry has been trying to clean up its act, attract foreign capital and distance itself from its violent origins in the 1990s.
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-laundering regulations.
Russian media said Frenkel was also linked to another small private bank, Sodbiznesbank, which Kozlov took control of in 2004 after it was accused of laundering ransom money from hostage-taking.
The former owner of Sodbiznesbank was shot dead in 2005 along with his wife, a child and a nun in central Moscow.
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