Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to convince Russians and the international community that he is serious about fighting corruption and driving the “oligarchs” out of the corridors of power are likely to be complicated by a store which broke over the weekend in Europe. Several newspapers, including Switzerland’s Tribune de Geneve and Italy’s La Repubblica, reported that Geneva magistrate Laurent Kasper Anserment had ordered searches to be carried out in, and documents to be seized from, a number of Swiss banks in connection with the alleged misappropriation of the US$4.8 billion “stabilization credit” which the International Monetary Fund sent to Moscow in July 1998. One of the papers quoted a letter written by Anserment as saying that part or all of the stabilization credit is suspected of having been diverted to various banks, including the Bank of Sydney, National Westminster of London and Credit Suisse, and a bit later to the Bank of New York (BONY). More than US$2 billion allegedly passed through the Bank of Sydney and National Westminster, while more than US$1 billion is said to have made its way to BONY. Before reaching these destinations, the IMF funds reportedly passed from the New York Federal Reserve Bank to Republic National Bank to Ost-West Handelsbank AG, a German branch of Russia’s Central Bank, to Creditantstaltlbankverein, a Swiss bank controlled by Ost-West Handelsbank. The potentially most explosive allegation in the story is that Mikhail Kasyanov, at the time a deputy finance minister, authorized the IMF credit’s tortuous movements. Kasyanov is now prime minister (La Republica, July 16). A Russian newspaper today cast doubt on the story, claiming, among other things, that Anserment, who previously worked as a prosecutor, was “censured” for “serious violations of the law,” including leaking confidential information (Segodnya, July 17).
MISCONCEPTIONS ON THE BALTIC STATES’ NATO MEMBERSHIP.