Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 204

Ruslan Tamaev, the chief investigator from the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office in the so-called Mabetex case, said yesterday that alleged copies of bank documents showing that former President Boris Yeltsin and Kremlin property manager Pavel Borodin had accounts in Switzerland’s Banco del Gottardo were forgeries. Xerox copies of the putative documents were published a year ago in the weekly newspaper Versiya, when both Yeltsin and Borodin were still in their posts, and purported to show the signatures of both men. The author of the accompanying article, Oleg Lurye, quoted unnamed former officials of the bank as saying that at least US$11 million had passed through accounts belonging to Yeltsin, Borodin and Tatyana Dyachenko, Yeltsin’s daughter, and that the money had come from two affiliated Swiss construction-engineering firms, Mabetex and Mercata Trading, in “gratitude” for lucrative contracts to refurbish Russian government buildings. According to Tamaev, he asked Swiss prosecutors to question the heads of Banco del Gottardo. Claudio Generali, chairman of the bank’s board, apparently said that the accounts mentioned in the documents published by Versiya never existed. Tamaev did not mention whether the Swiss prosecutors had asked Generali about the allegations that Dyachenko had an account in Banco del Gottardo. In any case, a newspaper yesterday speculated that Generali’s statement could mean an end to the Mabetex case (Kommersant, October 31; see also the Monitor, November 19, 1999, October 10, 2000).

Yet while Tamaev’s announcement may have undermined some of the charges made in the press connected to the Mabetex case, it did not address the letter written in July of this year from Swiss magistrate Daniel Devaud to Russian Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov, which detailed charges of money laundering against fourteen people, including Borodin. According to that letter, Mercata Trading concluded contracts with the Kremlin property management office worth US$492 million, out of which payments worth US$65.52 million were made to various offshore bank accounts belonging to various companies and other entities. Of these payments, the letter alleged, US$25 million went to Borodin and his relatives. According to the letter, which was leaked to the press the past September, a US$4.155 million payment was made into an account in Banco del Gottardo belonging to Winsford Investment Ltd., a company owned by Mercata Trading chief Viktor Stolpovskikh (see the Monitor, September 14).

According to charges made in the press last year, Mabetex provided Yeltsin, his two daughters and then presidential bodyguard Aleksandr Korzhakov with more than US$1 million in “pocket money” for a 1994 trip to Budapest, Hungary, and made funds available to Yeltsin and his daughters via credit cards. In his new book, “Midnight Diaries,” and in recent interviews, Yeltsin categorically denied ever having received bribes or holding foreign bank accounts (see the Monitor, October 10).