Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Mystery of Andrei Kozlov

The murder of Andrei Kozlov last September has had a number of unusual aspects including his position as the number two guy at the Central Bank of Russia, his attempts to clear up corrupt practices in Russian banking, his untimely death, and subsequent prosecution and closure of the case in atypical fashion by the Russian authorities. It appears that this scenario things seem to be unraveling. The International Hearld Tribune reports the following:

"Now, however, the authorities in Austria have cast doubt on the quality of the Russian sleuthing in Kozlov's murder, which they linked to a multimillion-dollar money laundering scheme that made use of a bank in Vienna."

Futhermore:

"The New Times, an independent magazine in Moscow that first reported the story, suggested that Kozlov was killed as he tried to halt a money laundering operation run for corrupt officials in the Russian government.

In August, Kozlov had informed an Austrian bank of suspicious transfers from a bank in Russia, according to Hersztera.

As the authorities in both countries were quietly rolling up the suspected money laundering channel, Kozlov on Sept. 1 revoked the license of Diskont Bank, an obscure "pocket bank" that operates discreetly and without visible customers.

The Austrian police have not identified the bank. However, Raiffeisen Zentralbank, one of Central Europe's largest, conceded in a statement that it had received the wire transfers from Diskont Bank. The New Times, citing anonymous Russian Interior Ministry officers, said that $60 million was transferred in the final days of August last year.

After the murder of Kozlov, the Austrian state attorney forwarded evidence - including the information Kozlov had provided about money laundering - to the Russian prosecutor general.

The Austrian state attorney did not receive a response from the Russian authorities, either on the initial money laundering investigation begun by Kozlov or on the possible link to his murder, Hersztera said."


The Exile gets to the pithier possiblities:

"What's strangest in all this is the idea that Kozlov tried to meddle and shut down this scheme. Wasn't he aware that he was probably directly fucking with Putin's pension plan? Does it show that Kozlov was indeed a reformer? Or is that Russia's banking industry has competing clans working and plotting in secrecy against each other, and Kozlov was getting too powerful for his own good? Whatever the case, Frenkel's arrest - the hired killers, witness testimonies that were later retracted, the evidence and the media campaign that automatically assumed his guilt - was all part of grandiose warm-up to a show trial. It was a sick set-up orchestrated at the highest levels of government. As for Frenkel, judging by the media's reaction to this new information, it looks like he's going to hang."

Frenkel of course being the patsy originally arrested as per the International Herald Tribune, Feb 21, 2007:


"VREMYA NOVOSTEI

MORE SUSPECTS EMERGE IN KOZLOV CASE: Aleksei Frenkel, a former banker who stands accused of ordering the killing of Andrei Koslov, the former deputy head of the Russian Central Bank, may not have acted alone. According to information obtained by the newspaper, the Prosecutor General's Office has identified several more people linked to the case, including three accused of laundering tens of millions of dollars stolen from the Central Bank of Turkmenistan. A source from the prosecutor's office said that all suspects had been identified; all were bankers; and all were sure they could not be punished."

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