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Russian police uncover $1.1 billion money-laundering operation

MOSCOW, July 8 (UPI) -- Russian police said Monday they uncovered a money-laundering scheme in which more than 400 people were involved in transferring $1.1 billion out of the country.

Several commercial banks and about 100 Russian and foreign companies -- some of which were so-called "one-day companies" -- were used to funnel the money abroad, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

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The money was used for real estate purchases in Cyprus and the Baltic states.

In more than five years of operations, the criminal organization earned a 2 percent profit on the transfers, amounting to about $17.3 million, police said.

Police arrested seven people considered to be leaders of the organization, including a 42-year-old man thought to be the head of the operation, RIA Novosti. The man's name was not reported.

During the investigation, police confiscated more than $30 million in a total of 85 searches.

One-day companies -- companies created to exist as little as a few hours -- were used to transfer the money, officials said.

Of the 3.9 million companies in Russia, just 2 million are real, the Central Bank said. Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said one-day companies prevent up to $30 billion from going into the government's tax revenues each year.

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