Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 136

The Mabetex case is apparently not the only Russian target of a Swiss criminal investigation. Swiss police at the beginning of this month raided several firms in Lausanne in connection with an investigation into suspected fraud and moneylaundering. While the Swiss have thus far not identified the firms, Russian media have named them as Andava and Forus Service, which the tycoon Boris Berezovsky allegedly set up in 1994, literally the day after a 49 percent stake in the state airline Aeroflot was privatized. The activities of the two firms and Aeroflot have been the subject of a Russian criminal investigation launched last year by Prosecutor General Yuri Skuratov. According to Russian press accounts, Berezovsky used the firms to “manage” US$250 million in the airline’s foreign revenues without receiving permission from Russia’s Central Bank to do so.

A Russian newspaper reported today that the recent raids on Andava and Forus Service in Lausanne were carried out on July 1 in the presence of Swiss Federal Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, and that documents were confiscated. Del Ponte is said to have ordered last week unnamed banks in Lausanne and Geneva to reveal all accounts belonging to Berezovsky and others involved in the Aeroflot case. Andava’s director, William Ferrero, was quoted as saying that Aeroflot officials had always assured the firm that it had Central Bank permission to transfer the airlines’ revenues (Izvestia, July 15).

Last December, the monthly magazine “Lyudi” published what it claimed were fragments of telephone conversations between Berezovsky, then Central Bank Chairman Sergei Dubinin and Nikolai Glushkov, a Berezovsky ally in Aeroflot’s management. In the alleged phone conversations, which took place well after Andava had started handling Aeroflot’s revenues, Berezovsky pushed Dubinin to expedite the issue of a Central Bank license for the firm (see the Monitor, February 12).