Courchevel hotels of Moscow region's ex-finance minister seized

A French court has ordered the seizure of two hotels in France's Courchevel ski resort that, Russian law enforcement agencies believe, were purchased by the Moscow region's former Finance Minister Alexei Kuznetsov with criminal proceeds, Russian Prosecutor General's Office spokesperson Marina Gridneva told Interfax on Friday.

A French court has ordered the seizure of two hotels in France's Courchevel ski resort that, Russian law enforcement agencies believe, were purchased by the Moscow region's former Finance Minister Alexei Kuznetsov with criminal proceeds, Russian Prosecutor General's Office spokesperson Marina Gridneva told Interfax on Friday.

"At the request of the Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation, a French court ordered the seizure of the Crystal and Pralong hotels, located in the town of Courchevel, that were purchased by former Finance Minister of the Moscow region Kuznetsov and his accomplices with the proceeds of their crimes committed in Russia," she said.

A court in the city of Albertville ruled in favor of Russian prosecutors' request and ordered that the Crystal and Pralong hotels in Courchevel be seized as part of a Russian investigation against Kuznetsov and other members of his criminal group, Gridneva said.

"Although these properties are formally owned by French legal entities, the court agreed to the Russian side's arguments that they were purchased with the proceeds from the criminal activities of Kuznetsov and his wife, U.S. citizen Janna Bulakh, in Russia," Gridneva said.

The French court's resolutions make it clear that the hotels have been seized in order to allow a Russian court handling this case to confiscate them, should such a need arise, she said.

Gridneva told Interfax earlier that an appeals court in the French city of Lyon had agreed to extradite Kuznetsov to Russia.

In Russia, Kuznetsov faces charges of large-scale fraud, abuse of office, money laundering and large-scale embezzlement.

Investigators believe the Moscow region government, regional housing and utilities enterprises and the Mosobltrastinvest company lost more than ten billion rubles as a result of the crimes committed by Kuznetsov and his accomplices.

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