France extradites former Russian regional finance minister

France has extradited Alexey Kuznetsov, former finance minister of Russia’s Moscow Oblast, to Russia. In Russia, the former official faces charges of fraud, embezzlement, and money laundering. Moscow has been pushing for his extradition since 2013, the BBC Russian service reports.

The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office announced on Thursday that the extradition had taken place.

“Today, accompanied by personnel from the Federal Penitentiary Service and the Russian bureau of Interpol, Kuznetsov was extradited to Russia,” the report states.

The Russian Investigative Committee added that the former official’s criminal case will be taken to court when all the required procedures have been followed.

Alexey Kuznetsov was the Finance Minister of the Moscow Province between 2000 and 2008, after which he left Russia.

He is being charged with 10 counts of fraud, nine counts of legalization of illegally acquired property, and three counts of embezzlement.

Case investigators estimate that Kuznetsov and his accomplices cost the regional Moscow government, housing and communal services and the company Mosobltransinvest in excess of 14 billion rubles ($203 million).

Kuznetsov denies all the charges, and attempted to dispute his extradition to Russia.

He was arrested by the French authorities in 2013 in the vicinity of Saint-Tropez. His extradition case was considered at courts in Aix-en-Provence, and later in Lyon.

The extradition order was signed by the French Prime Minister in November 2017. On December 28, the French Council of State rejected Kuznetsov’s appeal against the decision.

At the start of 2018, the Basmanny District Court of Moscow sentenced Kuznetsov’s ex-wife in absentia to 11 years of prison.

  France, Russia, Moscow

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