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Russian hydropower boss linked to fraud

Aug. 9, 2013 at 7:03 AM

MOSCOW, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- The Russian Interior Ministry announced it was investigating an incident of "large-scale fraud" at the state's hydroelectric company RusHydro.

The ministry said it opened a criminal investigation into the actions of RusHydro chief Vitaly Totrov, accused of embezzling more than $24.2 million.

The Interior Ministry said Totrov used his office to commit fraud through the operations at a hydroelectric plant near the border with Georgia in 2011.

"A criminal case into large-scale fraud has been opened against Vitaly Totrov, general director of the Zaramagskiye hydropower plant," a ministry statement published Thursday by state news agency RIA Novosti said.

RusHydro denied the allegations. A spokeswoman for the company said what the ministry considers fraudulent activity was an "absolute legitimate source of financing."

The Interior Ministry launched a similar inquiry in February, accusing the company of signing false contracts valued at $33.2 million with subsidiaries.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said RusHydro's top management "should be fighting with [their] teeth to recover these funds."

The Interior Ministry said it seized RusHydro's accounting documents in the most recent investigation.

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