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Current, former Russian finance officials suspected of embezzlement


MOSCOW, February 12 (RIA Novosti) - A current and a former Russian deputy finance minister are suspected of masterminding the embezzlement of state funds on a large scale, a special investigations committee said on Thursday.

"The investigation has established that Sergei Storchak, a Russian deputy finance minister, and Vadim Volkov, a former deputy finance minister, who held the post in 1999-2004, masterminded the embezzlement of a large amount of government funds," spokesman Vladimir Markin said.

"It may be said without exaggeration that the best finance and economy experts, including the incumbent and former deputy finance ministers, were involved in a plan in recent years to embezzle large amounts of state funds," Alexander Bastrykin, the head of the Investigation Committee at the Prosecutor's Office, said earlier in the day.

He said more than 900 million rubles ($25.6 million at current exchange rates) in state funds had been embezzled.

"Among the people who have been put on trial are staff with the Interior Ministry and Customs service, public prosecution officers, municipality officials and high-ranking government officials," Bastrykin said.

He said the probe into the so-called Storchak case would soon be completed with all expert conclusions available.

Storchak, who oversaw foreign debt talks at the ministry and was a key figure in Russia's talks with the Paris Club, was detained in November 2007 and accused of attempting to embezzle $43 million from the state.

Storchak was released in October 2008 from custody on a pledge not to leave the country. He has received steadfast support from Finance Minster Alexei Kudrin.

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