Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 157

Other revelations concerning alleged high-level Russian corruption surfaced yesterday. The newspaper Kommersant cited a report this week in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, that Swiss prosecutors, while investigating alleged money laundering involving Mabetex (the Swiss firm which had won lucrative Kremlin renovation contracts), had located thirty-two accounts in Switzerland’s Banco del Gottardo held by twenty-three members of Yeltsin’s inner circle.

The alleged list of such accounts has been the focus of widespread attention in the Russian media. According to some reports, Swiss chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte earlier this year handed the list over to then Russian Prosecutor Yuri Skuratov. This week, however, Corriere della Sera provided what it said were some of the names on the list: Yeltsin, his daughters Tatyana Dyachenko and Yelena Okulov, Kremlin property manager Pavel Borodin (the only official previously named as an account holder), Anatoly Chubais and former Presidential Security Service chief Aleksandr Korzhakov.

Del Ponte, who has been accused by some Swiss officials of interfering in Russian internal affairs with her anticorruption probes, was recently named to take over from Louise Arbour as chief prosecutor of the United Nations war crimes tribunal. Del Ponte may have decided to “slam the door” and leak the list of Russian bank account holders because she does not believe the Russian-related moneylaundering cases she has been investigating will be prosecuted (Kommersant, August 26). Corriere della Sera also reported that Mabetex’s head had provided Yeltsin and his two daughters with US$1 million in spending money for a 1994 trip to Budapest (see the Monitor, August 26). In an interview published yesterday, Skuratov reportedly accused the Kremlin of trying to shut down investigations into corruption (Agence France Presse, August 26).

The Kremlin press service issued a statement yesterday saying that neither Yeltsin nor his children had ever opened foreign bank accounts. It noted that the Yeltsin family had–as required by law–declared its revenues and had furthermore published those declarations in the press several times. Given the “aggravation of the electoral battle,” the press service added, it is necessary to pay close attention to the sources of information. Likewise, Anatoly Chubais categorically dismissed the Corriere della Sera claim that he has an account in Banco del Gottardo. “The information cited by the newspaper is a lie from beginning to end. I never had nor have accounts abroad, neither in the years I worked in the government and the presidential administration, nor at the present time,” he said in a statement released to the press. Chubais said that he would ask the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office and Swiss law enforcement to provide an “official explanation” concerning the Italian paper’s publication of “slanderous falsehoods” about him. Pavel Borodin, meanwhile, called media reports that he had accounts in Banco del Gottardo and other Swiss banks “lunacy,” adding that they were ordered by “certain political forces” for “mercenary ends” (Russian agencies, August 26).