Archive for Saturday, September 3, 2005

Russian diplomat arrested by FBI

U.N. official accused of conspiring to launder money

September 3, 2005


— A Russian diplomat who chairs a powerful U.N. budget committee was charged in an indictment unsealed Friday with money laundering conspiracy, accused of conspiring to help hide hundreds of thousands of dollars in payouts from companies seeking U.N. contracts.

The FBI arrested Vladimir Kuznetsov, 48, on Thursday, less than a month after arresting another Russian U.N. official over alleged money laundering.

U.N. deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe said Kuznetsov had not been under U.N. investigation.

According to the grand jury indictment, Kuznetsov established an offshore company in 2000 to hide criminal proceeds he received from an unidentified U.N. procurement officer who had taken secret payments from foreign companies seeking contracts to provide goods and services to the United Nations.

Prosecutors said in a statement that the procurement officer in return gave the companies confidential U.N. information about the contracts. When the procurement officer told Kuznetsov about the scheme, Kuznetsov agreed to accept a share of the proceeds rather than report the conduct, prosecutors said.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan waived Kuznetsov's diplomatic immunity at the request of U.S. authorities, U.N. associate spokesman Farhan Haq said.

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton praised Annan "for his personal and very prompt decision," and declined to comment further.

A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said his government was awaiting more information from U.S. law enforcement agencies and the U.N. Secretariat before making any statements, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.


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