Russia: $1.1 Billion Money-Laundering Scheme Uncovered

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The Interior Ministry has detained a group of seven individuals believed to be responsible for laundering more than $1.1 billion over five years using several commercial banks and over 100 Russian and foreign firms.

In a statement released Monday, the ministry said investigators had conducted 85 searches that revealed an operation involving 400 people.

No additional information regarding the individuals, firms or banks in question was given, and the ministry had no further comment when reached by phone.

The only available detail was that the group was headed by a 42-year-old native of the town of Mytishchi in the Moscow region.

The video accompanying the statement showed the office of an unidentified bank with several metal safes full of cash totaling $30 million, registration papers for multiple legal entities and more than 500 stamps.

Money laundering was recently identified as one of the main problems facing the Russian economy by the Central Bank’s former chairman, Sergei Ignatyev, who said that more than half of the $49 billion in illegal capital flight last year was controlled “by one well-organized group of individuals,” a group which he declined to name.

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