Former Federal Security Service officer detained on suspicion of fraud

Interior Ministry officials have detained Telman Alasgarov, deputy head of the All-Russian Public Fund for Assistance to Interior Ministry Veterans, and former Federal Security Service officer Andrei Ponkin on suspicion of fraud, the Interior Ministry told Interfax.

"Telman Alasgarov and Andrei Ponkin are suspected of extortion in the amount of $1.5 million," the agency said.

The sources have told Interfax that Ponkin was an aide to businessman Boris Berezovsky, who now lives in London.

According to the Interior Ministry's Department for Economic Safety and Corruption Prevention, the said persons offered a former board chairman of one of Stavropol's banks assistance with the closure of a criminal case involving the stealing of securities from the bank's charter capital and promised to ensure him a positive decision by Deposit Insurance Agency (DIA) inspectors.

"The suspects said the money would go to officials from the DIA, the Finance Ministry, and officials from the Interior Ministry's Main Department for the Stavropol Territory," the agency said.

This information was not confirmed during the investigation, the source said.

The detention was made in a Moscow restaurant while the suspects were receiving 1.5 million rubles as the first portion of the money.

"Officials from the Interior Ministry's Main Investigations Department have opened a criminal case on the basis of evidence of the crime enshrined by Criminal Code Article 30, Part 3 and Article 159, Part 4 (fraud)," the Interior Ministry said.

Operatives continue investigating the suspects' illegal activities and corruption relations.

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