Britain Arrests Russian Tycoon on Fraud Charges

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Sunday, June 1, 2003
Bruce Zagaris
On March 25, 2003, the British police announced they had arrested Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky on an extradition warrant arising from charges brought by the Russian Government. According to a police statement, Mr. Berezovsky was arrested on March 24, 2003 with Yuli Dubov, a former chief executive of the Logovaz car company, on charges of fraud brought by Russia. The Russian Government has alleged that between January 1, 1994 and December 31, 1995, they defrauded the administration of the Samara region of 60 billion rubles (or about $18 million at the average exchanges rate for that period) while serving as directors of Logovaz. On march 25, 2003, Mr Berezovsky, 57, and Mr. Dubov, 54, were released and ordered to appear in court on April 2, 2003. In November 2002, Russia requested Mr. Berezovsky’s extradition, one year after he arrived in Britain, requesting permanent residence and two years after he left Russia. Berezovsky has claimed the fraud charges were an effort by Russian President Vladimir V. Putin to silence him. The Russian extradition request for Berezovsky will be another test for the ability of Russia to extradite another Russian tycoon. Until now Russia has not had much success in these cases. On March 25, 2003, Britain’s Home Office secretary, David Blunkett, declined to say whether his decision to arrest Berezovsky on the Russian extradition warrant was influenced by efforts to improve the strain in British-Russian relations due to disagreements over the Iraq war.