That old hand-laundry slogan could hang over the chief teller’s wicket at the Bank of New York, or over the prime minister’s office in Moscow. Russians may not understand marketing, but they seem to have a grip on turnover.

The New York Times, USA Today and other papers report that investigators believe at least $4.2 billion and as much as $15 billion in Russian money was laundered through accounts at the Bank of New York. The funds allegedly came in part from crime figure Semyon Mogilevich and from once powerful but now failed Bank Menatep, controlled by Yukos Oil boss Mikhail Khodorovsky. Money loaned by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank may have passed through the Bank of New York accounts. Among those under suspicion is Konstantin Kagalovsky, once Russia’s representative at the IMF and an employee of both Menatep and Yukos Oil. Kagalovsky is married to a Bank of New York vice president.

In reacting to the moneylaundering reports Russian leaders split along familiar lines. The Kremlin–meaning President Boris Yeltsin and the “Family” of relatives and power-brokers that supports him–put on a bold face and a stone wall. Finance Minister Mikhail Kasanov said: “I have no information indicating that Russia has anything to do with this problem, so there is no need for the government to interfere.”

The Kremlin’s political opponents–meaning in particular the new coalition of Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov–tried to turn the affair to political advantage. The office of the prosecutor general, a pro-Luzhkov and anti-Kremlin enclave in the government, publicly offered to assist Western investigators and “ordered” the Federal Security Service to seek information from American authorities. Media outlets under Luzhkov’s control linked alleged laundry-meister Mogilevich to companies in the domain of Boris Berezovsky, top oligarch and head of the Kremlin Family. Newspapers controlled by Berezovsky connected different dots to link Mogilevich to companies in the domain of Luzhkov and the Moscow city government. The pro-Berezovsky media might have done more, but for a time last week the Moscow city fire department closed down one leading property, the daily Kommersant, for code violations.