Belarus accuses Russian high-ranking officials of fraud

Gazprom's top managers, as well as possibly high-ranking representatives of the Russian establishment, are involved in illegal activities in Belgazprombank, stated the head of the Committee of State Control (KGC) of Belarus Ivan Tertel.

On June 14, several top managers of the bank, which is 99.6% owned by Gazprom and Gazprombank, were detained on charges of tax evasion, credit fraud and creating a criminal group to withdraw funds abroad.

On Thursday, June 18, the Belarusian security forces detained the former head of the bank, Viktor Babariko, who was a candidate in the upcoming Presidential elections on August 9. Babariko as "direct organizer and head of illegal activities" was placed in the KGB jail.

"It seems that Babariko is trying to play in nobility. We, in turn, know that the puppeteers behind his activities fear that our actions will lead to us obtaining the information which confirms their involvement in illegal activities," Tertel said on air of Belarus 1 TV channel.

"These individuals are, we know, big bosses at Gazprom, and maybe higher," he added.

On June 15, Belgazprombank has been placed under interim administration by the decision of the Belarusian Central Bank. Earlier, a new acting chairman of the bank’s board was appointed. Gazprombank and Gazprom announced on June 12 that the decision was illegal.

The confessions against Babariko were given by the detained top managers of the bank, Natalia Eismont, a spokeswoman for the President of Belarus, said last week. She added that during the searches "huge sums of money, securities and gold were seized."

According to the KGC, the security forces removed $4 million in cash and more than $500,000 in securities from the bank's Minsk office. 150 paintings worth $20 million were included in the case, including Marc Chagall's Green Landscape and Chaim Soutine's "Eva," which were part of the bank's corporate collection.

According to Belarusian President Lukashenko, the inspection in Belgazprombank was carried out at his request. "I will call Interpol after the results of the investigation and say, well, analyze these documents," Lukashenko said on Sunday. " Russians, Americans will be called here, Europeans will be called here, and let them draw conclusions whether our law enforcement agencies comply with our laws," said Lukashenko.

  Belarus, Gazprom, Russia