Former Moscow Region Finance Minister detained in Saint Tropez following anonymous call - source

Former Moscow Region Finance Minister Alexei Kuznetsov, accused in absentia of large-scale embezzlement, has been detained in France following a call of an anonymous informer, a law enforcement source told Interfax on Monday.

Former Moscow Region Finance Minister Alexei Kuznetsov, accused in absentia of large-scale embezzlement, has been detained in France following a call of an anonymous informer, a law enforcement source told Interfax on Monday.

"Prior to the detention, an unknown person called the French branch of Interpol and said that Russian citizen Alexei Kuznetsov, wanted internationally, was living in a hotel in Saint Tropez in Cote-d'Azur, having specified a certain address, with a passport of a Scandinavian state. This could probably interest you, the anonymous informant added," the source told Interfax.

A police brigade arrived to the scene immediately, made sure the information was true and the former official was detained, the source said.

Almost simultaneously, the French authorities sent a request to their Russian colleagues, who confirmed that this citizen had indeed been put on the international wanted list and had to be detained.

The press office of the Interior Ministry reported Kuznetsov's detention on July 6. "First Deputy Chairman of the Moscow Regional government, the region's Finance Minister Alexei Kuznetsov has been detained in France at the request of the Russian law enforcement authorities," the press office said.

Several fake passports were found during the detention, the press office said. Kuznetsov was on the international wanted list along the Interpol channels since November 2012 on the suspicion of committing fraud, laundering money received illegally and misappropriation in Russia.

"Kuznetsov is suspected of committing crimes in the housing and utilities sector, as a result of which the Moscow region's budget sustained damages of 3.5 billion rubles, the press office said.

It has been reported that investigators believed that an organized group led by Kuznetsov acquired debts of municipalities totaling more than 3.5 billion rubles from public utility management companies by use of fraud and abuse of trust from November 2005 - November 2008.

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