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Russia Opens Criminal Probe Into Bank Of Moscow


Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov (left) with his wife, Yelena Baturina (file photo)

Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov (left) with his wife, Yelena Baturina (file photo)

Reports from Moscow say Russian law-enforcement officials have opened a criminal investigation into a top Russian bank in which the Moscow city government has a significant stake.

The "Kommersant" business daily says the probe into the Bank of Moscow is linked to a $415 million loan the bank issued to a little-known firm in 2009.

The report says the company then went on to purchase a plot of land from Yelena Baturina, the wife of the now-deposed mayor of Moscow, Yury Luzhkov, at what investigators think was an inflated price.

According to "Forbes" magazine, Baturina has risen to become Russia's richest woman as a result of Moscow real estate contracts awarded to her Inteko construction firm. But the company has been riddled with debt since the 2009 financial crisis.

The news comes amid a possible acquisition bid for Bank of Moscow by another Russian lender, VTB, in what the "Financial Times" describes as "the start of a redistribution of assets in the capital following the ousting" of Luzhkov.

compiled from media and agency reports
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