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Swiss prosecutors "have proof" of top Kremlin aide's guilt
Agence France Presse © 2000

Agence France Presse via NewsEdge Corporation : MOSCOW, May 26 (AFP) - Prosecutors in Switzerland have enough proof to convict Pavel Borodin, a top aide and confidant of former Russian president Boris Yeltsin, of money laundering, a Swiss examining magistrate said Friday.

"We don't issue international arrest warrants without sufficient reason. When Borodin sees the case I have assembled against him, his confidence will plummet," said Daniel Devaud in an interview with Russia's Kommersant daily.

The magistrate added that he would be widening his list of suspects in the fraud case by early June, but ruled out any action against Yeltsin.

"I want Borodin. And a number of others. But not Yeltsin. I don't intend to charge him with anything," he said.

Swiss prosecutors have issued an international arrest warrant for Borodin on money laundering charges, but the Kremlin official has refused to give himself up. Russia has no extradition treaty with Switzerland.

He formerly oversaw some 600 billion dollars (650 billion euros) in Russian and overseas property owned by the Russian state, and is now the secretary of the Russian-Belarus union created last year.

Separately, Borodin is also under investigation for allegedly having taken kickbacks from the Swiss construction firm Mabetex and helping to open illegal credit card accounts for Yeltsin and his daughters.

Yeltsin was granted full immunity from prosecution on the day of his retirement December 31.

Swiss prosecutors plan to ask Russia to supply documents related to their investigation into Borodin, Deputy Prosecutor General Vasily Kolmogorov said on Thursday after his return from Switzerland.

Kolmogorov met his Swiss counterpart Felix Benziger and other prosecutors during a three-day visit this week to discuss cooperation in criminal cases in both countries.

However, Kommersant, owned by well-connected tycoon Boris Berezovsky, reported that Russian authorities were determined to stamp out the Mabetex inquiry this summer.

Observers say that the May 17 confirmation of acting prosecutor general Vladimir Ustinov in his post signalled there was little political will to investigate high-level corruption cases.

Ustinov is reportedly close to Berezovsky, who has been investigated in Russia and Switzerland in a corruption and money laundering case involving the state airline Aeroflot.