Centre Franco-Russe d’Intelligence Economique et Stratégique

04 mars 2008

Russian denies ordering murder of top banker

MOSCOW, March 3 (Reuters) - The Russian businessman accused of ordering the murder of Andrei Kozlov, a top central banker who was shot dead in 2006, pleaded not guilty on Monday.

Alexei Frenkel, the former head of a small Russian bank, is accused of hiring cab drivers to murder Kozlov, who led a clampdown on money-laundering and revoked the licenses of dozens of banks, including Frenkel's.

"This is slander. The prosecution does not have the right to pour these slops on me in public. I am not guilty and have nothing to do with this crime," Frenkel told the court.

Kozlov, 41, was gunned down in September 2006 after he left an amateur soccer match of bankers at a stadium in Moscow.

The murder of Kozlov, one of the highest profile killings of President Vladimir Putin's presidency, brought back memories of the turbulent 1990s when contract killings were common.

Months before his murder, Kozlov had revoked the license of VIP-Bank, where Frenkel was chief executive.

"Discontent is not a motive for killing someone from the top ranks of the Central Bank," said Frenkel's lawyer, Viktor Parshutkin, upon delivering the not-guilty plea.

Prosecutor Gulchekhra Ibragimova said two gunmen who carried out the murder each received $8,500 from Frenkel, while their driver was paid $3,000. All three men were cab drivers from Ukraine.

Liana Askerova, a former boxing promoter and restaurateur charged with helping Frenkel organise the murder, took $80,000 for her services, Ibragimova said.

The next hearing is scheduled for Tuesday. (Writing by Simon Shuster; Editing by Elizabeth Piper)

Posté par CFRIES à 18:55 - Crime & Sécurité - Permalien [#]