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Moscow court finds Berezovsky guilty of Aeroflot fraud

The Moscow Savyolovsky Court has found tycoon Boris Berezovsky guilty of embezzling over 214 million rubles from flagship air carrier Aeroflot and sentenced him to six years’ imprisonment in absentia.

„The court found that Berezovsky embezzled the money from Aeroflot through a fraudulent scheme,” the presiding judge said. The sum concerned is around $9 million at today’s exchange rates. The court sentenced Berezovsky to six years in prison for embezzling millions of dollars from Aeroflot and upheld the airline's suit ordering that the tycoon repay the sum. The charge of laundering more than 16 million rubles (about $0.6 million) was dismissed.

Russia has issued multiple arrest warrants for Berezovsky’s arrest in his absence and requested that the UK extradite him on many occasions, which London has refused to do. Berezovsky has been granted political asylum in the United Kingdom and, reportedly, citizenship. He denies, however, that he possesses UK citizenship. „Following the guilty verdict against Berezovsky, we have stronger chances of having him extradited. We could request his extradition in the near future,” said Alexander Kublyakov, state prosecutor in the case against the tycoon.

The businessman is also accused of plotting to stage a coup in Russia, as well as embezzling $13 million from a leading Russian bank. These two cases were opened in the spring and summer of 2007, respectively. Berezovsky has repeatedly labeled his trials-in-absentia a „farce.” Eleven criminal probes have so far been launched in Russia against Berezovsky, a one-time close associate of the late Boris Yeltsin. (